Compost Gold
Compost Gold

Well, we finally had a warm enough day to get the barn mucked out from the winter.  We do a good cleaning when it starts to get cold in the fall.  From there on out throughout the winter we just keep adding shavings as needed to keep a clean surface for the chickens.  Over the years we have found that leaving the shaving and chicken manure  in the coop over the winter actually creates a little heat for the birds.  I'm guessing that even though it is cold there is a little composting going on with the various layers of materials.

Since most of our compost is made up of what we clean out of the barn and those things are seasonal we keep several piles going at a time.  Each year there is a new pile created and we work on about a 5 year cycle.  That means that we have five piles going at once.  We have a spot on the property where the piles are lined up along the woods road.  It is pretty easy to tell which is the new pile because it is the lightest in color.  These in the picture are ready to be turned.

This and last years compost piles
This and last years compost piles

During the winter the piles just sit and do their thing because there is no bucket on the tractor we cannot turn them but once we take the snow plow off and put the bucket back on we turn the piles on a regular basis.  Early in the winter when we get our first few snowfalls the piles melt really quickly and you can see the steam rising out of them.  We know they are doing their thing.

Unfortunately for us we do not have a lot of green material to go into the pile.  It is mostly shavings and manure which means that it does not break down as fast as it might.  There is usually plenty that is ready to go from several years back when the spring comes and I want to put some around the fruit trees and again in the fall when I put it on the garden as it is put to bed for the winter.

I did take advantage of last Sunday afternoon to can some beans and pea soup.  We had one of our hams for Easter so I used the bone and some of the leftover meat to make a pea soup.  It is so convenient to have soup on the shelf if you need a quick lunch or dinner.  I know on days when I'm working but my hubby is off he likes to have soup for his lunch.

Besides the pea soup I also canned some black beans and ranch beans.  The black beans were just plain and we use them for tortilla soup, nachos and any thing else that they work for including salads.  The ranch beans are pinto beans with spices in them.  Chili powder, cumin, etc which makes them great as a side dish to almost any meat from the barbeque.  In fact I think we will have some tonight with the steak we are planning on having.  Yes, we splurged and bought some beef from a local farmer.  It is the one thing that we do not raise but enjoy once in awhile.

Here is a sneak peek at my seedlings.  I got then started about 10 days later than I would have liked to but we had a family funeral and time just got away.  These are the broccoli and cabbage.

Broccoli and Cabbage seedling
Broccoli and Cabbage seedling

I'll thin them in a few days.  These should be able to go out into the garden as soon as I can work the soil a little.  They don't mind cool weather.  I'm hoping that I can harvest before it gets too warm then I'll be able to plant something else in their place.

I have started several types of peppers so I need to get out and get the greenhouse set up for them.  Hopefully there will be a pepper harvest on the homestead this year.  We use a lot of pickled jalapenos and I am looking forward to canning our own.

Here is one more sign of spring here in Maine.  The lady bugs are in the house. So far it has only been a few but some years there are so many that you have to vacuum them up.

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Happy Spring everyone.