It’s feeling like Spring

I am so thankful that I no longer live in Little Siberia (Minnesota). Earlier this week, Minnesota was shutting down under the threat of 20 inches of snow. Meanwhile, on the farm, the chickens were enjoying 70° weather…and the pond builder and I were almost uncomfortably warm in Fort Worth, Texas. Punxsutawney Phil may have predicted six more weeks of winter but his accuracy is less than 40%.

Pond Building Progress. Well not much has occurred. We need to be home when the temperatures are up and the weather is dry to start sealing a few spots and coating the floor of the pond. We also need to draw some diagrams of what the equipment house will look like. I would like to repurpose the roof panels of our greenhouse into two of the walls. It might look kind of like some of the Japanese breeder houses on two of the walls:

We have found a ProfiDrum 65/40 in the United States. It’s in California somewhere and we will arrange for shipping to the farm in March. The ProfiDrum filter systems are made in the Netherlands and the next boat across the Atlantic is weeks away. We are getting a model that will fit nicely in our equipment house. There was an option to buy a competitor brand but the pond builder wanted the ones we had always used. Someone in the koi world also pointed out the proven quality and customer service of ProfiDrum.

Pond Landscaping has moved along the last few weeks. We now have eight maples planted around the future pond. Three are the red bark Sango Kaku, two are slow growing Bloodgood, and three are the larger Emporer 1 Japanese maples. One of my koi friends recommended a nursery nearby that has a wide selection of Japanese maples. While I was there I picked up some mugo pines and kings gold cypresses for the hillside between the pond and garage. The pond builder is getting better at planting trees – he’s gotten the hang of using the back hoe attachment on our tractor.

Future Pond Inhabitant flew in yesterday. A few months ago a koi dealer messaged me and said ‘a customer had purchased a sanke, but something was wrong with the his pond and he can’t take delivery – do you want this Marudo 52 cm female sanke?’ Hmmmm – these questions often occur when you least expect it and you can’t sit too long making a decision. It was a busy week at work, I’m getting ready for our monthly trek to Minnesota, and I said okay. I have never had much luck with the sanke variety. I have two Matsue sanke koi that seem to be developing nicely and now this one, at 20.5 inches will join the koi family. I’m hoping for happy changes over the next two to three years. The new koi flew via Southwest and arrived in great shape.

The chickens are never too impressed by the koi. They are always on the hunt for treats, eating freshly sown grass seeds and trying to get into the house. All ten hens are now laying eggs. I am always thinking about what to do with all of the eggs. Fresh eggs can last for months if properly stored. in fact, grocery store eggs can be as old as two months. The farmer has 30 days to get an egg into a carton…and the processing facility has 30 days to ship out the eggs once the eggs are in the carton. Today I remembered that pasta uses a lot of eggs – one egg for every 100 grams of flour…and you can freeze the fresh pasta that you make.

Chicken people have been reporting on social media that the chicken feed formula has changed, resulting in fewer eggs during our egg shortages. Supposedly it’s been debunked but we switched chicken feed about the time the story was circulating, and coincidentally, our hens started laying eggs. We also supplement their diet with random vegetables, cooked pasta, fruit, cooked chicken (!), and even sausages. They need a lot of protein to lay eggs.

The vegetable garden is doing well so far. I have started filling the raised beds with garden soil and cleaning up in general. I direct sowed a few cool weather crops and have seen little leaves peeking out of the soil. It’s always so promising and in about 6 months, I’m pretty tired of gardening. I have been starting seeds and spent the day repotting the initial seedlings. It’s difficult for me to not plant everything at once but I’m working on being more disciplined about successive plantings.

Berries and fruit trees are starting to flower with the warmer temperatures. I have some tree covers coming in for the fruit trees with the hope that we will have more than 3 pieces of fruit this season. The deer seem to get to the fruit right before I do. Insects and fungi will be dealt with chemicals often this year.

While I played with seedlings, the pond builder was taking out the few Bradford Pear trees left on or near our property. In North Carolina, we have a Bradford Tree bounty program where you can get up to five native trees for the Bradford Pear trees you remove. We’re not interested in the freebies, just getting rid of the trees. They are flowering right now, so very easy to spot. We had four on the edges of our property . Most of them were burned this afternoon.

Another sure sign of spring is the return of wild turkeys. I really don’t know if they go somewhere during the winter but they are back, walking the hay fields. Wild turkey season is from April 8 through May 6th for the bearded males. We will be seeing the turkeys out in the field until April 7th and they magically disappear into the woods until the end of the hunting season.

We are curious to see if the turkeys will check out the hens. They were not too far from the coop this morning and stopped to look from afar but went on their way. It’s probably a good thing they aren’t friendly since they could be carrying some weird poultry diseases.

UPS has been rather sketchy lately. I have had two packages stuck for almost two weeks locally. Last weekend, a customer service representative told me that they had so many packages, they arbitrarily decided to not deliver mine. Then the delivery date seem to wander. Another phone call yesterday and they promised delivery Monday. A local employee in the processing center sent an email and said they had “found” my packages on a back shelf, and reconfirmed a Monday delivery. Well UPS shows up this afternoon with my raised garden beds from COSTCO and my wine. I was tempted to open a bottle in celebration.

The two new bottles of wine (on the right) are from the Koi Pond Cellars, winery/vineyard in Washington. They also have a very nice koi business, Children of the Sun Koi. A local koi couple shared a bottle of their 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon which bears THEIR koi on the label. Haven’t tried any of the bottles yet but maybe I’ll have a little party when our pond finally opens???

Spring comes with longer days, pollen, wasps and more activities to challenge my green thumb. The work continues and we are never bored on the farm.