Our family's journey to the heart of a handmade life

The state of things

The state of things

Things are picking up around here.

We have a beehive! Bees are arriving in early May!

Two baby chicks sleeping in their food bowl. They did this regularly.
There are 14 chicks in our front porch. 10 are one month old, 4 are one week old.
We lost Rizzo over the winter. She was one of what we called the Old Guard, the first 6 chickens we bought back in 2011. We also lost 5 chicks from the first new batch, and 1 from the second, which was the hardest. I tried desperately to keep her alive- giving her water with a little dropper, fortified with trace minerals and a bit of raw apple cider vinegar. She drank reluctantly, and became increasingly lethargic. I then switched to feeding her a bit of milk kefir, hoping to give her some much needed calories. But I guess it wasn’t enough, and she died. Homesteading is hard, man. Not for the faint of heart.
I started a bunch of seeds last weekend, and many have already sprouted. However, I somehow managed to lose my heat mat and haven’t been able to buy a new one yet, so I fear many of the more finicky seeds won’t germinate (cucumbers, tomatos, and peppers). I have to see if I have enough time to try starting them again (with a mat) or if it’s too late and I should just purchase transplants in May. The growing season is quite short up here in Maine, so if you don’t start early, you lose. I wonder what homesteaders did back in the day, before the creation of heat mats and grow lights and the internet, when you simply saved your seed from last year and started them in a sunny window. Did they have trouble with things like tomatoes and cucumbers if it wasn’t warm enough? Or has the internet led us to believe (like so much) that things are far more complicated than they really are?
This weekend, we will have a brand new lawn tractor, 210 cubic feet of soil, and 90 concrete blocks. So, weather permitting, this weekend we will finally be able to mow the land, mulch the leaves, start our compost pile, build the raised beds and plant the spring garden (lettuce, peas, carrots, kale, cabbage, radish, and probably other things that I can’t remember right now). Most people relax on the weekend, but that’s our busiest time! 
We were totally going to get a dairy cow this year, but figured it would be piling waaaay too much on our plates. So we’re sticking with the huge garden, bees, extra laying hens and 50 meat birds. Next year, dairy cow and pigs. This year, trying to figure it all out and not let anything else die.
I’m still adjusting to life with two littles and a big house. To say I haven’t found my rhythm yet is a massive understatement; I don’t even know what song I’m playing anymore. Each day is a new chance to flounder and stress out, to raise my voice too much and leave another project unfinished. I’ll get it, I know. I keep writing my lists, planning things that will never get done, but hey, I tried! I sometimes look back on the day and wonder what on earth I accomplished, what exactly prevented me from doing what I needed to? Then I remember that I kept two little humans alive and (usually) happy. The house is clean, just a bit cluttered. We ate real food that didn’t come from a box, even if it was just scrambled eggs and an unseemly amount of cashews. Everything else is secondary, everything else has time. Childhood is fleeting. 

The last of the snow still holding on for dear life.
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Do you homestead? What are your spring plans?