As The Days Get Longer

Magnolia stellata buds swelling and a sure sign of spring!

Magnolia stellata
buds swelling and a sure sign of spring!

As the days get longer, the lists of things to do gets longer right along with it. While we’re having our morning coffee, we add or subtract the tasks that indicate to us that spring is here. Pepper seeds, onions and leek seeds, all the eggplant that needs to be sown, done. Workshop cleaned out and reorganized, done. Greenhouse furnace checked, done. Cross them off the list ( yippee! love crossing things out! ) But the list will grow, and the page will turn to make more room for all those reminders of what chore is next. People will often ask us “when is it time to start sowing seeds ? Or when should you start uncovering plants? When will you shear the sheep?” We wish we had an absolute answer to these questions, but often the answers depend on a variety of factors. The weather, for one. Every year is different, this one in particular, being colder and with the terrific snow accumulation, it will impact when certain things get done. We have an overview of all the things that need to be tackled from now and throughout the entire growing season, for both the nursery and for the farm, and this is where the lists come in. All the notebooks and lists from years past are hauled out and we begin looking at when we did these very same chores during previous seasons. We look back because we keep track of almost everything, not just when we tackled the task and the exact date, but also what the weather was like ( from day to day ), how much snow was on the ground, who lambed first and when, when did we shear last year, when did we tap trees, what varieties of seeds did we grow and how did they pan out ( these notebooks follow us through the entire season), when did we begin transplanting and when did things go in the ground,? All this information helps us to make decisions about this year’s chore list. It reminds us of what worked, what didn’t, and why certain variables affected the outcome. We never look at our past lists and say ” oh, we start sowing leek seeds on March 10th.” Believe it or not, we rarely find that the dates are the same, but the old notebooks provide a guideline and are full of helpful information. My grandfather kept a little spiral notebook in the barn, in it he recorded all the events, occurrences, and changes that happened on his own small farm. He milked cows, so breeding dates, calving dates, milk output, grain intake ( grain prices!), etc., were all recorded in this little barn diary. I found it after he passed away, when we started using the barn for raising beef cows. This keeping tract of year to year events was ( is) an important tool for storing knowledge and information. We find it to be very handy still. Do most gardeners or farmers or homesteaders write lists and keep notebooks from year to year? I’m curious. What’s your method for transitioning into spring and tending to all the chores it requires?

6 comments on “As The Days Get Longer

    • Too funny! and sadly…..so true, yes here we are with another snow day. We have written the ‘spring’ list, but the chores we actually get to cross off are few and far between. Folks are going to have to have some big spring celebration parties in their gardens, once we finally get there! I plan on attending all of them!

  1. I am a note taker and collecter of ideas etc so now I am trying to organize it all in one 3 ring binder. I am finding my garden schematics from garden in Ma b4 I moved to Maine and my first garden here that eventually was left to go to seed and now my present gardens and the dates I bought from different places miss Hedgehog Hill Farm. Interesting to see what I still have and what I would like to try again.Looking forward to to the search this year. Oh dear there isn’t lifetime enough but what fun the journey.

    • I do love pouring over those old notes and reflecting on specific things that may have happened those years. It has been especially helpful with keeping track of lambing, which ewe had what and who she was bred to. Yes, Molly…the plain fact is……..so many things to do in life and a lifetime just doesn’t seem to have the room for all. We’ll do our best! Hope toy are enjoying the day!

    • Hi Sally,
      Yes those little bits of writings, even in the way of simple barn notes……which for my grandfather, a man of few words , included only the specifics. Unlike my own note keeping, which may reflect my mood or my response to the weather or a new blooming flower, his was much more utilitarian and frank. More like…….” March 11, 1945 , Princess has bull calf, 10 lbs. all well” . This is pretty much it, no real emotion shared.

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