It might have been too much for our winter-wizened systems, after two days in a row of warmth and sun. So today we\’re back to clouds and chill, and I stayed indoors and walked from window to window, and made a list of the tasks awaiting me, such as weeding.
This is the best time of year for weeding. The weather is cool, the weeds are small, the dirt is soft, and you are aching to be outside anyway. And for every weed you pull in March, you save pulling six in July (in the heat, and when you\’ve got a full-grown garden to deal with). So I should weed the back garden and the front beds and the front walk as soon as possible.
I should also get rid of the hay mulch around the lavenders and the roses, and figure out what to do with that perfectly good hay–maybe pile it on the rhubarb bed. I should cut down the stems of the apple mint and the lemon balm, and put them somewhere. I should clean out the fish pond, but first I need to find out how to do this without disturbing the hibernating frogs (if I wait too long those frogs will be spawning, so time is of the essence here).
The biggest job will be to finish filling the raised beds in the vegetable garden. It is really heavy work, carting dirt in a tub across the yard, and I\’d like to hire a guy with a front-end loader to do it in a couple of hours. But guys with front-end loaders work according to mysterious and unpredictable schedules, and the job needs to be done as soon as the piles of dirt defrost, or I\’ll miss planting time for the spring crops. I\’d hate to make a deal with a guy, and then have him not show up at the critical moment, so I\’m dithering about that decision.
After the beds are filled, I\’ll need to empty the compost bins and pour their contents into the beds. And once the bins are empty it will be time to clean out the chicken house and put the old bedding in the bins, in preparation for next fall.
Speaking of chickens, my three Buff Orpingtons, though only two years old, are hardly laying. One of them, in fact, lays soft-shelled eggs that break in the nest and make a mess (yes, my hens have access to calcium supplementation). Fond as I am of them, it really makes sense to have the three Buffies slaughtered and replace them with chicks that will start laying next fall.
This brings me to the dilemma of what breed of chicken to choose. The \”heritage\” breeds I have right now–Buff Orpingtons, Rhode Island Reds, and a single Barred Rock–are calm, friendly and picturesque. But as layers they don\’t hold a candle to the \”sex-link\” hybrids. These are modern genetic inventions that yield white roosters and red hens. And the hens are veritable laying machines, producing giant brown eggs, unperturbed by winter blizzards and summer droughts.
Only real chicken aficionados raise the heritage breeds. Those more interested in production and efficiency go for the sex-links. I need to decide where I stand in the world of poultry.
Needless to say, the dog poop cleanup will take several more days, until the snow is entirely gone. The ersatz wattle fence I put up last year needs some major maintenance. A couple of long-neglected ornamental trees need pruning, and the beds in front of the house will need their annual application of mulch.
At this point in my spring list, I start envying the woodchuck, who can shut his eyes to the coming avalanche, and burrow back into the earth for another nap.