Spring has sprung in Wisconsin, which means MUD! Yesterday we got a ton of rain, and the horse pastures are deeply mudded in their favorite spots. Sigh. We roll our round bales out into the pastures, so we watch the weather report to know when conditions are going to allow us to do that. We rolled fresh bales right before the rain came, and we are very glad we did, as it is complete MUCK by the gates now. It is cold again, though 40's and 50's isn't bad for WI. I'm grateful that we aren't seeing snowflakes!
I am so anxious to start getting into my gardens. We have expanded my herb garden, and the fences are going up as soon as weather and soil allow. My blue potatoes from Heirloom Solutions (http://www.heirloomsolutions.com) have arrived and as soon as the garden dries just a little I can get them safely in the ground! I hope for a good crop. I also have tons of seedlings on my kitchen counters, taking in the lovely southern exposure, but completely taking over the area. I am putting in a couple cold frames and hopefully will start to get those moved outside soon. My winter sowing areas are not quite awakening yet, but I think that should be pretty soon, and I have quite a few plants to start in my winter sowing areas. To top it off, we are picking up five willow saplings this weekend, to plant down in our wet areas in our pastures. The plan is that the horses will have shade from the trees as they get bigger. The area isn't used by the horses, as it is a strip with deep wet, almost a marshy type area. But the areas they do use will be eventually shaded by the trees, which is good as their pastures are bare of trees at this point.
I have all my dehydrators stored carefully and will be glad to get my herbs drying when they mature. At this point, almost all are still sleeping or awaiting planting. I did see that my garlic is coming up, and so are the chives, so I know that spring is coming. I plan to use garlic scapes in my low-carb cooking for added flavor, which thankfully will also encourage the garlic cloves to grow much larger. I did see the catnip coming up, and the motherwort. I have way too much motherwort as it grows wild here, so I am trying to thin that down a little. That is certainly going to be a battle. On the upside on another wildcrafting herb out here, the lamb's ear is coming up as well, and since those leaves are better when harvested young, I will be getting out and taking some of that and getting those inside to dry. I have quite the collection of glass jars to store my dried herbs so my pantry can be well stocked. The dandelions haven't shown up yet, but that will be the next wildcrafting experience. I am arguing with myself about making dandelion wine again, as it is a great deal of work, but it is so hard to think about letting a harvest go to waste. I want to be sure to leave some for the bees, but making dandelion jelly is certainly worthwhile as well!
Our nights are still cold, and the rainy spring days keep us inside more than we would like. Rainy days are good days for working on the henhouse spring cleaning, as at least that is under shelter, but there is only so much that can be done in there. So, in addition to all the continuous remodeling on our 130-year-old farmhouse, we have started a new hobby - ceramics! Honestly, I have always been inspired as my grandmother was a hugely skilled artisan in ceramics. Hubby and I started going to an area ceramics studio this winter, basically to get out of the house and do something new. And it has become quite a passion! We love the creativity, and all the many options available, as well as that there is SO much to learn! We were just recently blessed with a kiln and some supplies from a dear friend who used to have her own ceramics business. The more we delve into it, the more we find! It has been so much fun to work alongside each other, consider all the options, and experiment. We have so much to learn! I ran the kiln for the first time this week and it was so exciting. The hard part was waiting for everything to cool overnight so we could open the kiln and see how things turned out! It was great! Now we are experimenting with glazes on the bisque we fired and the wait is now to have enough ready to fire!!! I will share photos as we get more done.
Here is the nutshell. Keep learning, keep active. There are so many interesting things in life, so many different varieties of nearly everything in life. I know I have a lot of eclectic interests and tend to jump from one to another, but it keeps my mind active. And a lot of it makes its way into my writing work. Whether in an article for a client, in my own books, in the ideas that I have stored away for future works, or just into my own blog posts, all experiences come to light. Whatever catches your interest, go investigate it. I am going to a Herbs 101 class at an apothecary shop this weekend as well, to expand my knowledge as I get my herb garden into full growth (we were given fencing from friends who took down a pool several years ago, and I have dreamed of using it to make my own enclosed herb garden. Well, we are putting it all in now, and the garden will be 12 feet by 24 feet, so HUGE!!!!). When something catches your interest, don't hesitate to jump in a little, take a second look. The more I learn about something, the more I discover there is to learn! I think it adds quite the spice to life and hopefully, will keep my heart young!
God bless to all. Enjoy each and every season!
"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11