A Springtime Tour of the Homestead
Gardening,  Homesteading

A Springtime Tour of the Homestead

It’s Memorial Day, the time of year we tend to declare as the start of summer.  But me?  I’m still trying to enjoy the spring for what it is.  It’s been chaotic and stressful, but beautiful too.  I could bemoan our situation and all that has been happening around here, but I can’t help but to remember the men and women who died serving our country so that I can live this crazy, chaotic, stressful, beautiful life.  We’d like to take a moment to thank all of those brave men and women who have served or are serving our country, to remember those who have fallen in the line of duty, and to thank the families of those who have served throughout history.  We wouldn’t be where we are without your sacrifices.

This spring isn’t what I thought it would be.  I thought we’d have the yard cleaned up and projects completed.  I thought it would be different.  But despite all of the things that have “gone wrong” so far this spring, the changes that are happening are all pushing us in the right direction.  Initially, I had hoped to have more pictures of our garden for you, but I haven’t been able to do as much work in there so far as I would have liked.  And I would have loved to have had pictures of baby or young chicks to share with you, but that’s just currently not in the cards.  Oh well.  Soon enough, I guess!

We spent the first portion of our weekend scraping dirt and moving gravel around the yard.   Have you ever had a project that you needed to work on, but before you could actually work on the project, you needed to fix, clean, or take other steps seemingly unrelated to your project first?  That’s what the gravel/skid steer project was like.  Lots to do before we can work on some of the other stuff with the whole fire situation and the “problems” that presents us with.  We added new gravel to the area of the yard in front of the granary, scraped down the path leading up to the garden shed and added gravel (we were having a lot of problems with run-off and being able to open the door properly at certain times of the year).  The large garden gate was difficult if not impossible to open at times, so we scraped a path leading up to the gate and filled that with gravel as well.  All of the work with the skid steer ended up tearing up the yard and making some ruts, but in the long-run, this will help us have less issues with doors and help make working and driving in our yard much easier.  It also helps define what areas people are allowed to drive on in our yard since many people never seem sure.

My intention for this weekend was to finish planting the garden and move the chickens again, but once again, it just didn’t go according to my plans.  I’ve started broadforking one of the new beds I’m working to prepare, but I was unable to finish.  Thankfully, we still have some time left before all of this needs to get completed, and we’ll get it done in time.  I’m so grateful we didn’t lose all of our chickens during the fire!  Just a couple more weeks until we get the new chicks.  There’s lots to prepare, so I hope we can stay on top of things!

The peas are growing well, and soon I will be able to start trellising them up our garden fence!  The tomatoes are starting to thrive after their transplanting.  It took a little longer than I would have liked, but with the unseasonably hot weather, they struggled a bit in the heat in those first couple of days after moving.  The lettuce is growing, and before I know it, I’ll be harvesting enough for a salad… so long as it doesn’t stay this hot!  (It will bolt before it’s big enough to harvest if the heat doesn’t back off.)  The red cabbage is doing well, and the radishes are about ready to be thinned.  I’m waiting to transplant my green cabbage. (As I said, things aren’t going according to plan here!)

In the basement I have all of my melons, cukes, and some of my pumpkins started.  I’m waiting on a cleared off tray from the cabbage to start another block tray of pumpkin seeds.  (Praying all goes well this week, we should be able to move forward.)  My potato seeds are patiently waiting for me to get planting!  The lavender is doing well, but still growing slowly.  And my pepper plants are in a similar situation.  I’m sure soon enough we’ll be seeing plenty of growth though.  No matter what happens, even if all of our gardening efforts fail for the year, this is by far the most “ahead of the game” I’ve been when it came to planning out a garden.  If nothing else, I will have learned so much for starting our gardens in the future.  But I hope we will actually have a harvest 🙂

My biggest “complaint” with not being able to work on any of the gardening stuff is that everything is growing like crazy.  I really can’t complain, except for the fact that I’m struggling keeping the grass at bay.  Long-term, we hope to have more and more perrenial food plants growing around the yard and less lawn, but while we work on making those transitions, the grass is getting out of control!  I guess we should get a goat.  (Don’t tell Scott I said that!)


The flower beds went crazy in just a matter of a month.  I wish I would have taken pictures at the beginning of the month because they went from nearly empty to just itching to bloom.  The blossoms on the fruit trees don’t last long enough, but if they didn’t eventually loose there beautiful petals, we wouldn’t be blessed with the abundance of tasty, juicy fruit that follows.

The “Secret Garden” is beginning to fill out with plants and grasses.  The stream is actually dry again, so it would be a great opportunity to try and dig it out, but it will have to wait.  I’m so glad we have large trees in the yard… plenty of shade and several great trees perfect for having swings in them.

There’s another little garden area near our house.  The beauty of the front portion of our property lies largely in the abundance of perennial plants, both flowers and food, that came with the house.  With very little work, there is already food growing.  Without having to spend money, we have lush beauty everywhere!  (If only these darn biting flies would go away!)  I love that I can have a garden without needing to do any gardening!

Another project Scott started to undertake with the skid steer was to create a large pile of debris we have from the barn disassembly project, and he was able to pull down a little entryway at the base of the barn, creating another “doorway” into the bottom of the barn.  He also spent time moving wood chips from our pile of free wood chips, dropping them near the base of our fruit trees.  We’ll start to spread them out soon, but being able to use the bucket of the skid steer saved us a LOT of time.

As I was doing some easy yard work this week, I discovered at least 3 small mulberry trees throughout the yard that I hope to transplant to the berry patch/pie slice before the year is out.  I am pleased to see that one of our fig trees is actually growing a fig (already a pretty decent size), and that the root stock we purchased this year seems to be alive.  We were concerned it may have dried out, but it looks like it just might be okay!


The kids have been enjoying the spring weather.  This weekend has been unseasonably hot.  So much so that we actually turned the air conditioner on.  The kids spent as much time as we would allow sitting on the stairs watching Dad use the skid steer.  And little E sneaks outside every chance he gets.  He never forgets his rain boots though!

Our lilacs opened up over the weekend, and I’m hoping that maybe later today I’ll get a chance to make some lilac jelly and lilac syrup.  I have been waiting anxiously all week for the lilacs to open, and now the yard smells absolutely amazing!

Lilac buds almost ready to blossom.

I’m always interested in seeing what spring looks like in other parts of the country.  Our trip to New Orleans in fall was really intriguing because it was incredibly different from what we see up here during that time of year.  If you want to check out what the gardens are looking like in another part of the country, you can check out my friend Kathi’s post where she gives you a tour of her spring gardens down in the state of Oklahoma.  In zone 7b, she’s always starting her gardens earlier than I am and harvesting much sooner.  While it is technically still spring, I’m pretty sure she’s already working on her summer garden.  For those of you who may not know what I mean, technically speaking, a gardener may have 3 “gardens” throughout the growing season.  Crops that like cooler weather can be grown in both early spring and late summer for a “fall” garden.  The bulk of the food grown is often considered a summer garden.

I’d love to know what you’ve got growing this year.  Let me know what your favorite thing to grow is each year!  It can be a flower, vegetable, or fruit… it could be livestock too.  I know I’m pretty anxious to start over with chickens!



  • lakesidemom

    I love, love, love the pictures of your seedlings. They make me so happy! And thank you for sharing my recipe for Lilac Syrup! (What a nice surprise to see that!) Please let me know how it turns out. It’s yummy for sweeting warm tea, cocktails (well, so I’m told; I’m not a cocktail-kinda gal), Lilac Lemonade (YUM!), sparkling lilac water, and even in baking. You can even use it to sweeten fruit salad and keep the fruit from going brown. 🙂 Thanks for sharing a peek into your spring. Now I’m gonna go check out Kathi’s!


    I enjoyed your photos of your spring garden; thank you. I am in a 7b zone in the eastern US. Having visited the pastoral southern WI and northern IL, it is a beautiful area. So sorry about your losses with the fire; glad you are perservering. Visiting from Kathi at Oak Hill.

  • dashmiller

    I love the picture of the red head in diaper and boots! Soo cute! We are starting over with chickens too because of a bobcat attack. How scary about the fire! I am an urban farmer so our worries are a lot different, but a lot the same too. We are in Texas so our gardens are growing crazy right now. My favorite thing to grow is tomatoes! There is nothing like the taste of vine ripe tomatoes! We are entering our hotter than Hell time when everything struggles and needs shade. Then in Fall we get another short growing season.Howdy from Bloom Where You’re Planted!

    • Spring Lake Homestead

      Thanks! I love that picture too 🙂
      I heard about the bobcat attack… that must have been so terrifying and unexpected!
      I get what you mean about the differences between what you do and what we do. If we hadn’t moved here, we’d be urban homesteaders for certain!
      I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the differences in gardening seasons for people all over. I mean, it’s winter in some places, it’s your hot season, so you essentially get two growing seasons, and some places get a significantly shorter growing season than what I get!
      Thanks for stopping by!

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