Although it’s not really warm and the sun’s not shining, the snow’s pretty much gone now. Even the plow berms have sunk to pitiful depths and the daylilies and daffodils are popping up, even through the remaining snow. Today, it’s in the mid-fifties and we’re comfortable working outside without a coat. I even went out to visit the chicken coop (for the first time since knee surgery!) in my T shirt! You can see all of the backyard lawn, even though it’s still brown. But brown’s better than dirty white.

The daylilies are starting to come up, now the snow’s melted.

Will’s been working like crazy on restoring our old manure spreader. The floor had gotten so thin from decades of wear and a lot of the steel parts had rusted badly. The combination made it break down often while he was spreading manure last fall. Now, it’s getting a total (almost) rebuild; a new pressure treated floor, additional welded heavy iron rails, and lots of beefing up, where needed. We still have to cut all that ugly plastic baling twine off the beaters, which fling the poop. As the plastic doesn’t biodegrade like sisal twine, you have to remove it at least twice a year. It lurks in the manure piles, left over from feeding big round bales all winter long. But it doesn’t quickly rot, as does sisal twine. It seems like there is no perfect solution.

Will’s busy restoring our very used, old manure spreader.

I’m continuing to transplant millions (it seems!) of tomato seedlings. As the heat is now on in the greenhouse, the filled flats are going out there. I’m still transplanting in alphabetical order so I can (hopefully) find various varieties, come planting time. Will carries the flats out for me as I’m still trying to heal up that knee. It is getting better and better, so I’m very happy.

I’ve been hurrying to transplant hundreds of tomato seedlings, which are now in the greenhouse.

— Jackie


  1. Hello, Jackie: Here in zone 9 I started germinating tomato seeds in my unheated greenhouse (I use warming mats) back in January. That and peppers seem to take so long to germinate. I used a OMRI potting soil, so here in May wondered why my one inch plants didn’t seem to be growing. Didn’t think it was the safe potting soil. Then realized that we’re no longer in drought conditions; that the last 3 years in January we’d had spring very early until summer. This year we’ve had tons of rain and snow months. So no early and daily sunshine to heat the greenhouse and help plants to grow big. I noticed probably a mouse was eating my starts in the greenhouse, (first time ever), so put my one inch tall starts out today, May 1, to maybe avoid the varmint. I know you have tons of starts. I’ve found it is prudent to germinate a lot because there are so many events that can happen to them, even after being planted outside. In the world’s state, it will never be easy to grow and feed ourselves. Conditions constantly change. You must be diligent always for self-reliance.

  2. SPRING! isn’t it wonderful! even though ,NOW it quickly doubles, triples the gardening duties. wouldn’t have it any other way. so happy you’re up and about, t-shirt weather! transplanting.(just don’t over due)

    • I’m trying hard not to over do. This time of the year, though, it’s real hard as spring kind of smacks you in the face, saying “winter’s coming”.

  3. As a kid growing up, my folks would say “Storm’s coming”, and we would put inside things that would need protecting. I see today’s situation–with the economy, mental strife, weather patterns–and think “Storm’s coming”! It is wise to prepare for whatever is looming, be it international threats or local.
    Garden is popping up; potatoes, beets, peas and I have transplanted the cabbage, seed onions and cauliflower. Soon I can put out my tomatoes. The wind is crazy this year in central Iowa, another 40-mph gusty day.
    Happy to hear you’re getting around some and will keep improving. Atta girl! And wow, Will! Dictionary should show picture of him next to Handyman definition.

    • I’m so fortunate to have such a handy guy! Fixing you own stuff saves tons of cash and also makes you feel that much more free.

      • I pray for ya’ll, including Will. It’s so important he stay healthy for your independence. My husband is so handy, like Will, with heavy equipment, car motors, engines. He’s a welder, mechanic, general contractor, and so smart. I don’t know how people homestead without that knowledge. We’re Blessed beyond measure.

    • I’m so glad to be able to get around more and more, with less and less pain (on most days!).

  4. Wow, that’s a BUNCH of tomatoes! Here in Georgia we’ve been planting out tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and yesterday the beans and corn popped up. Next week the squash and watermelons will be seeded and the sweet potatoes planted. There’s still broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower coming from the garden but the last carrots and leeks were pulled last week.

    That’s wonderful that Will has the expertise to fix stuff like that. A big tip of my garden hat to him! And I’m glad to hear that your knee continues to improve.

    • Wow! It’s so much fun to hear from others who live in vastly different climates than ours. I just walked in my garden for the first time this year and thought THAT was great. And, here you are in full gardening mode. How cool!

  5. So, so glad you are getting better. I was worried that you had a setback when you didn’t post for so long. Take care and be good.

  6. Jackie, your tomatoes look great!!! Our spring sprung back in February here in the Gulf Coast Region of Texas. My tomatoes and potatoes have been in the ground since the last week of February. We’ve had a great spring with cool days and nights and rain. We’re in a drought. We’ve been eating spinach, beet greens, kale, squash, green beans and green onions out of the garden. My tomato plants are about 4 to 5 feet tall with a lot of green tomatoes. I can’t wait for that first ripe one.

    • I’m SO jealous!! Good for you, and may the rain fall gently upon your garden.

  7. I live for your homestead pictures. Your pictures and blog are a cool drink of water on a hot day and keeps me going on. And dreaming of my little plants sprouting up.
    It seems it rains, turns cold or cool and sun for an hour and then more rain. BUT everything is greening up in the fields and the big equipment from the nearby farms are out in full planting. I only have 2 acres, but I have hundreds of acres of farmland around me, so I get to see the planting and harvesting from my front porch. Our Canadian geese arrived this week on the small lake, so that is a sure sign.

    • We’ve been getting geese, ducks and swans flying in, along with many migratory birds. It finally feels like spring is really here.

      • That’s where they were going when I saw them far above our house!!
        Regards from far north California, zone 9

  8. I wish spring was closer to sprung here in the Copper River Basin, Alaska! We have about a foot and a half of snow on the garden and I have snow piles that are still six feet high where I piled it with the tractor bucket around the buildings. I tried to dig my way into the hoop houses but too much snow has iced up and I can’t access these with the tractor. I’m figuring on moving tomato’s and peppers to the green house in ten days or two weeks so I can put the tomatoes in seven gallon grow bags and the peppers in four or five gallon pots. I would move them now but I don’t want to spend too much on propane and my wood stove in the green house only holds a fire for three or four hours and I’m afraid I will sleep too long and we will loose them all because we are still getting into the teens some nights. We did stay slightly above freezing last night for the first time this year so there is hope. Glad you are healing and have help!

    • I know what you mean about worrying you may sleep through fire building. I worry that our propane heater may go out when it’s cold. Luckily, we’ve been staying above freezing and that’s SO nice. We still have a few plow berms around, but they’re going down quickly now. Happy Spring!

  9. Isn’t is WONDERFUL to have a “Will”!
    My husband is great at fixing most anything as well. It amazes me.
    Those daylillies are going to be so beautiful.
    As are those nice tomatoes!

    • I am so happy to have a handy husband! I can grow almost anything and he can fix darned near anything. So, we make a pretty homesteady team.

  10. Hint on the round bales…… When we put them out….. we tip them up on end, cut that dreaded twine and remove it. We then put a hay ring around the bale. This way I don’t end up with that dreaded plastic being ingested by the animals………..

    • You don’t live where it’s -35 or -50 in the winter. When we feed, it’s a quick, check the cows, dump the hay, run water and get back to where it’s warm. The cows don’t eat the twine, or at least none of ours have, nor have any of our neighbors’ cows. Plastic bags now…..bad news.

      • Thanks for details in case we ever raise livestock. I wouldn’t mind hearing much more about raising livestock, and your orchard.

  11. Baling twine and wire seem to be a thing of the past. Straw bales we purchase (from a farmer, not a big box) have plastic “twine” these days. I am hoarding my gunny sacks too – I’ve not seen them for a long, long time.
    I suspect cutting plastic off the beaters is similar to removing hair (curse of having a head of hair)/raveled rug parts from a vacuum brush/beater. Necessary evil that takes time and patience.
    I must say my garden soil looks pretty darn good these days. Compost/leaves have improved the not so great soil at this house. Prior house had rich, black soil. As we didn’t sell the prior house right away, we took the opportunity bring soil and plants to the new house. It took a lot of care to get the plants established but we did it.
    The W-2 job will require purchase of some plants, others I can direct seed. But the income from the W-2 job has allowed us to be debt free as well as adding to savings. Retirement is tough these days so after watching other family members and friends make it on SS when I was young, we’ve always lived below our means. It is okay to have to spend to be prepared if you have the income to do so. One has to do what is best for his/her/our selves. Every little bit counts.

    • Yes, it does, Selena. I think we’re both as retired as we’ll get. Maybe when our health fails seriously, we may have to rethink that, but we both love what we do. Our work on the homestead is our hobby and we get a lot of enjoyment out of it all. Usually. lol

      • My passion, I think, is to be in your position on a homestead, raising our own food, even hunting/fishing. I keep asking myself, am I sure? We’re 66 and I hear how hard that life is. At times it brings me to tears, especially when we’re out on a drive in the wilderness, when I feel this dream and passion like a compulsion!! Like something driving my heart, except I pray for my husband, because the bottom line is him. I could not do it without my husband, and without God.

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