It was -20F this clear and sunny morning without the windchill, and with little wind, it was actually not bad being outside. The chickens were clucking and cooing inside the coop when I brought them their fresh water, and I swear they were telling me to hurry up and give them their oats and corn. Too bad all the eggs I collected were already frozen. I'm surprised some of the hens are still laying.
I spent the day comparing seed prices. It feels good to plan this year's garden. I even sent off an order to Woodstock Nursery for three Haralson apple trees and one Chestnut crabapple tree. I hesitated to try this nursery because I favor standard rootstocks over semi-dwarf and dwarf rootstocks for this area, but it is a Wisconsin nursery so there is a good chance the trees will grow here even if they are on semi-dwarf rootstock. We'll see. If I like how the trees grow, I'll buy from Woodstock again. I'm also working on a tree order for my favorite tree nursery, St. Lawrence Nursery, for more trees from them, as well. I'm thinking about getting their pear tree package, two Golden Russet apple trees, two Westfield-Seek-No-Further apple trees, and one grafted plum tree each of Toka, Waneta, and Pipestone. The idea is to dig up the trees currently in the orchard section (what's left of them), put them in pots to grow in a sheltered spot close to the house so they hopefully can recover from the deer damage they have sustained, and later be replanted. The new trees will take their place, and this time I have the fencing to surround each tree so the deer can't get at them. I would like to make a single order, but it's easier for me financially to buy a little at a time, i.e., an order per month; ordering this way doesn't stress the budget as much. I figure that I should have everything I want ordered by planting time. I'll be watching for a grafting class to be offered that I can attend so if the trees I dig up from the orchard section are not salvageable, maybe I can use the rootstock to graft on new scion wood.
I've been thinking about what I want to plant for the market garden. It's my hunch that this year will be another cool year. I know, I know -- we were lucky that this past growing season went into October without a hard freeze, but that is not the usual weather for this locale. I'm betting on another year with off-season frosts so I'm going to plant heavily with root crops, peas, and greens. I'm also going to try planting grains to use for animal feed because the cost of feed is skyrocketing. I'll plant barley, oats, mangels, dent corn, and maybe some wheat. Dad is going to show Mary and I how to use the tractor, so I'll practice by turning over some more of the old pasture behind the farm house that we want to reclaim from the woods for that planting. I have already tried growing grains and they have grown well for me, but I have not harvested the grains -- just turned them under as cover crops for soil enrichment. I will need to find some way to store the grains, but it will be great to grow my own animal feed.
Even when it's cold, there is always lots to do to keep busy.
Till next time, be safe and well!