You can always tell when spring is just around the corner…
The horses start shedding…
Seed catalogs start arriving in the mail…
The days become warmer…
While it’s easy to sit back and start enjoying the warmer days, with warmer days means whipping the homestead back into shape, if you haven’t started already.
The truth is, work is never ever finished on the homestead.
Even when winter or fall creeps in to replace the warm seasons, there’s still a project list that’s a mile long and just as soon as you cross some things off, more things are added.
Here’s some early spring tasks for the homestead that you should be doing in March and April if you want a smooth start.
Table of Contents
Brief Overview of What You Should Be Doing During March and April:
Since the weather is still kind of cool and the soil might be too wet or too hard still, you’re kind of limited by what you can do.
For the most part though, plan on doing the following:
· Start fixing fences or putting up new fences- It’s best to do this when the ground is still kind of soft but you don’t want it too dry or wet either.
· Tilling or planting is great to do as the soil becomes a little more manageable- More on that later.
· Also, now is a great time to start walking your pastures and picking up rocks while taking note on what areas need to be reseeded, re-fenced, repaired, and any poisonous plants that need taken care of.
Let’s break it down a little more though.
Prepare the Garden
Start your cold tolerant plants directly in the garden, but give your more sensitive plants a better chance by starting them indoors in your germination kits or greenhouses.
If you have a compost pile that’s been growing over the last few seasons, right now is a good time to add some extra amendments and then add the compost to your garden after everything has been mixed as thoroughly as possible.
While we’re working with soil, now is a good time to start tilling the soil- but only when it’s firm and dry enough.
Take Care of Your Pastures
I highly suggest rotational grazing for a variety of reasons (which I’ll cover another time), but one of the biggest perks is the ability to give your pastures a break from all of the animals.
Because let’s face it…
Animals can be hard on the land and the fences.
So while you’re out doing your inspection, look for things like things like:
· Areas that need to be reseeded.
· Fences that needed mended or even fences that need to be put up.
· Rocks or boulders that need to be removed before you can bring the heavy equipment in.
When you’ve completed all of that, then you’ll be ready to spread any manure and amendments and till it all into the soil without worrying about rocks or other obstacles breaking or damaging the equipment.
Just make sure it’s not too muddy to do so, or you risk getting your equipment stuck in the mud- which is never fun.
Now, I know your pastures and fields might start looking awfully tempting to turn your stock onto them, but don’t do it yet.
Instead, keep them in one area you have separated off from the rest of the pastures that is hopefully close to your barn or feed shed.
I call this the sacrifice paddock, because it’s the pasture or paddock that usually takes the brunt of all of your animals during the colder months.
The perks of this is that it keeps all of your animals in one area so they’re easier to feed and it also cuts back on damage to the land that can occur when you let animals wander about on wet and muddy grounds.
The drawbacks is all of that mud and manure builds up quickly and needs managed frequently…
With that said, keep feeding and supplementing your stock until the ground gets dryer and mud isn’t as much as an issue anymore.
By the way, you’ll be cleaning this paddock out when the animals are moved later on, so brace yourself for that fun.
Take Care of The Orchard
We can’t forget about the orchard, especially if you’re hoping for a yummy harvest later on.
To get a head start on a successful year, start out by pruning anything that looks dead, diseased, or really anything that would slow down the growth of your trees.
Dispose of any pruned limbs by taking them to the burn pile.
If you have the time to watch over your burn pile like a hawk, now is a good time to start it so it doesn’t build up too crazy heights that will be more difficult to manage later on.
If you intend to start new trees, go ahead and do that now too.
For pesticides, I recommend choosing an oil based one for your orchard.
This will allow it to stick better to your trees and help cut down on frequent sprayings.
The extra time it takes to re-apply sprays can be spent better elsewhere…
Don’t Forget About Your Bees
That is if you have them…
The weather isn’t quite warm enough for plants to start producing enough nectar to support your swarm, so continue feeding them because they’re still depending on you.
You can also start opening the hive up to inspect the bees and also check out the overall structure of the hives.
During your inspection you should be looking for anything that is damaged or needs replacing.
Also, don’t forget to medicate your hive.
Determine what medications are needed and get that sorted out.
Some vets may know what you need while others are clueless.
I was able to find this neat resource for vets who are interested in bee medicine, so maybe you can direct them to it if you need help?
Right now is when new swarms and hives start showing up if you’ve ordered them, go ahead and get them installed and setup now.
Tend To Your Barns, Coops, and Sheds
I’m sure you’re accustomed to swimming in mud and manure by now, but don’t slack off just yet because of the warmer weather.
Keep it down to manageable levels for the animals and yourself (hopefully you have a tractor or bobcat to make it easier and faster).
You’ll thank me later when you’re not slipping and falling all over the place, and your washer might last longer too.
Prepping your birthing kits and first aid kits too, since this is prime time for most animals to start dropping their babies.
The last thing you want is to be without something when you need it most.
This is the perfect time to get your brooder box setup too, since the post office will be calling you about your new chicks (if you ordered them online).
Definitely check out those Ohio brooder boxes if you haven’t already (I love them!)
Finally, tally up your feed sheet for all of the animals, but don’t forget about the new members of the family- pick up your milk replacer, chick feed, etc.
Other Odds and Ends
I like to take care of my burn pile right around this time too since it’s not too wet or too dry.
Maintenance tasks for the vehicles including the tractors and other heavy equipment are either scheduled or performed now.
This is also the time I start spring cleaning my house too.
Wrapping It All Up
These are the early spring tasks for the homestead that I like to get out of the way before it starts to get too warm.
What are some things you do around your homestead to prepare for the warmer months?
Did I forget anything?