Friday, March 21

Storms, Sprouts and Shavings

I officially have pepper sprouts in the basement under the warm grow lights and I could not be more pleased. Just to have something green and alive on this 38 degree day gives me such hope for the coming season and that it will, eventually, get here.

Currently I have peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, broccoli and cauliflower started and I have yet to see anything green from any of the trays, except for peppers. I did find a few blades of grass growing in one of the trays which a chalk up to some mystery seeds hitching a ride in my seed starting mixture. I let them grow for a few days just so I could have something else green and alive.

This years chicks will be here tomorrow. I am not sure what kind I am getting yet and I wish I could say that it was because I am reviewing every little trait and statistic from many breeds before I make a wise and informed decision. However, the reality is that I am just waiting to see what the Tractor Supply happens to have in stock when I get there tomorrow.

The chick area is set up and I have made some modifications. In past years I have used the metal tank to house the chicks which works fine until they are bigger and then space is at a premium. Last year I went with the extra big make-into-any-shape-you-want baby gate but I put it right on the cement floor with shavings. The shavings went everywhere as the little chicks played and the whole room was a mess. And, when they were big enough, they flew up and perched on the baby gate railing, jumped out and ate my tomato seedlings.

This year I took 2 big plastic pallets and put them against the back wall of the seed room, and into one corner. I put the baby gate up on the edge of the pallets and secured it so it would not get knocked off. Then I put down several thick layers of cardboard and I made sure it went up the sides to keep the shavings contained.

The only thing that is still needed is a top of some sort. I want something light but durable and don't want it to be one big top. I want at least two separate sections to lift up. I am not sure if the top is just going to sit there or if I will make it attached to something along the back wall and I will lift it up like a cold frame top to access the chicks. I am not going to worry about it right now since the little chicks will be staying put in the fenced area for at least a few weeks. Plenty of time for me to figure something out.

I might be keeping those chicks in the basement until they start laying eggs if the weather does not start changing. This picture was taken after 'Vulcan' finally made its way out of western NY. It was hard to tell how much snow we actually got since the wind was blowing it around and creating huge drifts. In some places the yard was bare and you could see the dead grass glazed over with a layer of ice. But in other places, there were drifts of up to 4 feet. On average, we got about 2 feet of snowfall.
I went outside today in the cold trying to pretend it was spring. I had the kids in snow pants and boots to keep warm and they had a ball running around the yard, shaking off the cabin fever. I tried to rake out some garden beds but the leaves were frozen to the ground. We trimmed a few bushes but by that time my heart was just not in it. It is still winter, whether I want it here or not, and the only thing we did that resulted in any accomplishment was to pick up the tons of fallen sticks and tree limbs that littered the yard. I am just happy that the kids think picking up sticks is a fun way to spend an hour.
Tomorrow I will pretend it is spring again when I go to get my chicks and I will sit inside planning out garden and landscape projects, making lists of parts needed, because that is what I do. I make lists and curse the weather and stress over my lack of tomato sprouts. Welcome to a new season: "The season between winter and spring where everything is mud, mud and sometimes frozen mud."

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