Homestead Life

Preparing for Spring on the Homestead

You might be interested in my article 20 Warning Signs You’re a Seed Junkie.

Coming Soon ~Spring on The Homestead

Spring seems so far away with all the snow and ice outside my window. It’s 16 F but the sun is shining and my flock is braving the cold to soak up some rays today. I think they’re looking forward to spring too. Technically, spring starts in less than a month and there are so many things that need to be done. So I really can’t just sit and daydream about soft breezes and green leaves.

Maybe just one more variety of lettuce...then I'll stop.
Maybe just one more variety of lettuce…then I’ll stop.

Gearing Up for Gardening

I went through all of my leftover seed packets this winter and made a shopping list. The orders came in and are all organized. This week I plan to clean up my seed starting area in the basement, purchase a new timer for the lights, and jot down the dates I need to start seeds on my calendar. I’ll need to start my onions from seed soon, and leeks too. Last year I shared an in depth post on How to Start Seedlings Indoors, in case you need a free refresher.

When the snow melts, I’ve got quite a mess to clean up in the garden. Last fall was so busy I never got the garden cleaned up and ready for winter. So that will be a big part of my late winter and early spring chores. I’m hoping to move all of the composted manure into the garden too. Whew…I’m getting tired just thinking about it!

My young tom turkeys are strutting their stuff!
I plan to raise more turkeys for meat this year.


Turkey & Duck Tractors

I’m hoping to have turkeys and ducks for meat this year and I’ll need new enclosures for them. They will need a higher protein feed than the layers and I’d like to try something I read about on this blog…The Valhalla Project. It looks like a pretty simple way to construct extra enclosures for the meat animals for summer. I’ll update you later this year on that project.

Turkey eggs for hatching!
Turkey eggs for hatching!


Firing Up the Incubators ~ Again!

Well, this doesn’t just happen in the spring around our homestead. I’ve hatched in autumn and winter too. In fact, I have 14 fuzzballs bopping around a brooder box in the guest room as I write. But now the hatching frenzy starts in earnest! I have a dozen turkey eggs that are going in the incubator today, with more to follow as the turkey hens continue to lay. I don’t know if these eggs are fertile, my breeding trio is untested. So I ordered a few broad breasted turkeys, just to be on the safe side.

I’ll probably hatch more chicks and ducklings this spring too. I’d like to have ducks for the freezer this summer and my laying hens are getting a little bit geriatric…so they’ll need to be replaced before long. If you are considering adding some baby poultry this spring, here are the basics for hatching and brooding chicks successfully.

Young Cornish X chicken.
Young Cornish X chicken.


Ordering Ducklings & Chicks

With all the action going on in our incubators, you might be wondering why on earth I would need to order any day old poultry. Well, I probably don’t need to order any. However, I want to order some meat chicks and I’m adding Khaki Campbells ducks to our flock this year too. I’ve read such great things about their egg production that I really want to try them out. They aren’t very good for meat, so I’ll keep some Pekins for meat production.

The ducklings will arrive on March 11th and my next order will be due the same day, if I order through our local feed store. So I have a little time to plan ahead and think about what other breeds of poultry I might want to add to our flock this year. This is a rather dangerous timeline…it gives me time to drool over all the descriptions of chicken breeds!

Planning ahead for spring is the best part of winter on my homestead! What plans are you ‘hatching’ for spring? Will you hatch or order chicks or other poultry? Do you plan to have a garden this year? Feel free to share in the comments!


18 Comments on “Preparing for Spring on the Homestead

  1. I got out my seed starting greenhouse yesterday and will be starting my tomatoes and peppers today. I will start, cukes, squash, zucchini, pumpkins and other fast growers in a few weeks. I also did not get my garden cleaned last fall, but I use a raised box/bed system that has individual watering systems for each one so my clean-up is fairly easy. The corn stubble takes the longest.

    1. Sounds like you’re going to be busy, Jeff. 🙂 A seed starting greenhouse sounds great. I start my seeds inside and harden them off in a little greenhouse, but it doesn’t stay warm enough for the little sprouts until the end of April, maybe.

      I’ve got everything ready so I can start the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants on the first day of spring…woo hoo! Well, everything is ready except that the seed starting heat mats are keeping the baby poultry warm right now. 😉 Perhaps I need more seed mats.

      Good luck with your clean up and seed starting! Stop by and let us all know how it grows 🙂

  2. Wow…. looking forward to spring…the sun, green growing things and more is so enjoyable… and then we are reminded of all of the chores to do for it. sigh. 🙂 You’re right though, and that is part of spring… it is such an exciting time…. and it is important to lay a good foundation for the growing season. 🙂

  3. Are your Cornish X chickens for meat? I have been looking at some in a catalog for that purpose. We have chickens for eggs, but I have not tried raising specifically for meat.

    1. Hi Emily,
      Yes, the Cornish X are bred for meat production. It’s much faster to raise them than heritage chickens…although heritage chickens are very tasty. 🙂

  4. Hi Shelagh,
    I have a post about planing onions from seed vs the sets…

    I hope you find it helpful!

    If you are moving in a year, it is probably a good a good idea to put your energy into sprucing up your place so it will sell quickly. Then you can really concentrate on chickens once you are settled into the new place.

    There is so much to do when you are getting a new homestead ready that time will fly and you’ll have chickens before you know it! 🙂 Best wishes with the move!

  5. I am so excited for Spring too. I think I might need to get some lights set up to start my seedlings properly. I was thinking about getting chickens, but I am worried that if we move in a year to our acreage that it will be a lot of clean up (we live in the city). I doubt anyone in our town would want to buy a place with a chicken coop in the back, but I guess you never know.
    What are you planting this year? I have never plants onions from seed, but I am going to try it. Any tips?

  6. Sounds fun! I have 80 or so birds right now, 18 of them being ducks and ordering more for May. I’ve never tried hatching eggs, but if I have a hen go broody this spring, I’m going to see if she will hatch. This is my first year with heritage breeds, so we’ll see how it goes. I am working towards being self sufficient in every aspect, my flock included. I would like to raise turkeys for meat as well and guinea fowl, mostly for insect control, but that will have to wait for another year.
    Thanks for sharing your plans, its always fun to hear what other people do on their farms!

    1. Hi Stephanie,
      Wow…lots of birds! It’s so much fun to raise the different breeds, and I really do enjoy the heritage chickens. 🙂 Let me know how you like yours! I’ve been putting off guinea fowl, because I have neighbors who wouldn’t appreciate them. That will have to wait until we live in a more remote location…someday. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your plans for the year! I hope you have a broody hen!

  7. Wow,you must have a big piece of property (or acres) for all those birds. I guess you would call me a backyard hobbyist. We are planning on building our coop inside our shed. It will be in the back corner with the door going out into a run behind the shed. It will be good protection for them, easy for me to get to, and no constructing another building on our small piece of property. I have found someone locally that raises chicks and can get them when I’m ready. Pretty excited.

    1. Hi Terry,
      We actually have just a smidge over one acre. I’ve had close to 100 birds at a time, but that was really a bit much 😉
      Sounds like you have a great plan for your coop and chickies! I’m looking forward to hearing more about your new additions! Best wishes!

  8. Aaagh! You make me want to get started on all my spring planning but I promised myself I’d finish my (rather complicated) taxes first!

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