Trees are sprouting and booming
as brooks babble
This week the landscape has changed again as the snow has melted. The runoff has transformed the dry creek beds in the ravines into lovely babbling brooks. This evening Sarah and I heard the first chorus of spring peepers marking the arrival of spring. With spring here we have a lot to do, we have chickens to get ready for, gardens to plan, our trees are sprouting, and we have trees to clear. Let’s get started!
Trees are sprouting
A few weeks ago we mentioned planting out our apple tree seeds, which are doing quite well. At the same time, we planted some cherry pits and mimosa seeds. This week the mimosa’s finally made an appearance! So far we only have ~40% germination on them but given I was expecting 0% this is great news!
But why would we stop at just having apple and mimosa trees? This week we planted out all the rest of the tree seeds we have been storing all winter. We now have trays of apple, mimosa, cherry, peach, pear, paw-paw, and persimmons planted. Then we went ahead and ordered more trees and shrubs!
We now have strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, asparagus, blueberries, hardy kiwi, and more apple trees on the way. I even ordered some thornless honey locust seeds, which arrived earlier this week.
Honey locust is a medium-sized tree that is native to Missouri and has lots of useful properties, it grows fast, is a nitrogen fixer, and is a rot-resistant hardwood. However, it is covered in the deadliest tree spikes you will ever see! We got its thornless cousin so we can try and replace it in our local landscape and still get all the cool benefits. The planting instructions have also brought me some joy and reminded me of a beloved Dr. Who character: “Cover the seeds in boiling water and let soak for 24 hours. If seeds don’t imbibe a sulfuric acid treatment may be necessary”. When I read that I couldn’t help but think of this guy.
Trees are booming
Sadly, in order to have room for all these new trees and plants, we have to say goodbye to the current residents. Let me tell you they don’t go quietly. But this weekend I fired up my chainsaw and started knocking them down all the same. Below are pictures of the orchard and future outdoor kitchen sites after the chainsawing was done.
After a few hours of work, I had knocked down enough trees to triple the size of our orchard, clear our outdoor kitchen site, and make some more progress on opening up our view. Unfortunately, that is when a particularly troublesome pine tree decided to pinch my chainsaw’s bar so badly that the chain gets bound in it. Thankfully it happened as the tree fell off a cliff so at least I was able to get my chainsaw back! The troublesome tree and its final resting place can be seen in these pictures.
The worst part is that removing the tree did not even open up the view that much! Oh well, I will just have to fix the chainsaw and try again another day!
Chicken brooder build
With spring here it is also time to get ready for the chicks we have coming in just over a week. Last year we brooded our chickens in the house. Never again! It was stinky, dusty, and unpleasant. So this year we decided we would have to build a brood box.
In preparation for our brood box, I actually bought a book called “Polyface Designs” by Joel Salatin, a professional farmer. The book includes plans for what he calls a mini brooder, which sounded perfect! Well, it turns out Joel’s mini brooder is an 8’x8′ structure meant to hold 200 chicks… So I took his designs and minified the mini brooder to a 4’x4′ structure that will hold no more than 50 chicks.
With some help from our neighbor, Forest, and our local missionaries we got it most of the way done. By the end of the day, we even got the roof built, but not correctly, so I’ll have to make some small tweaks to it this week to polish it off. But, if the chicks showed up tomorrow we could technically house them!
Once I finish off the build I’ll do a more detailed post with some plans for this small-scale chicken brooder. Thanks, everyone!