Spring has finally sprung in Central Illinois! I am sure that across many states, we all certainly experienced the LONGEST winter ever! Even though the calendar marked that spring had arrived, Mother Nature apparently did not agree.
With that strong feminine mind of her own, she played a great number of tricks on those of us counting down the days until we could get our fingers dirty. Not only was the work of tilling gardens, planting seeds, transplanting greenhouse plants, and mowing the yard calling my name, but also the remnants of the fall yard work that didn't get done was looking over my shoulder. Along with having fallen tree branches from winter storms to deal with, we also gave ourselves (my daughter and me) the extra job of raising new chicks and cleaning out an adjacent "get used to me" pen next to the older ladies of my flock.
The work never ends for a homesteader, no matter how big or how small the homestead is. There is always work to get done and being behind schedule, which I usually avoid, makes the work all the harder. However, there is no other work that gives me such joy than the tasks of spring gardening.
As I sit out on my deck typing this, I am surrounded by the smells of my 30 year old lilac bush that has never failed to fill my senses with a calming aroma. I hear the waterfall of my koi pond that my daughter opened last week and the sounds of frisky toads calling a mate. I look over my shoulder and see the beautiful apple blossoms that shade my chicken run and I can hear the birds call to each other with a symphony of sounds.
I see mama robins sitting on their nests upon the gutter outside my bedroom and I see daddy robins bring a few scraps of what is probably an unfortunate worm whose life was cut short. I feel the warm sun on my shoulders that are still wet from the shower that scrubbed away the dirt from my body after tilling my garden, building a rabbit proof fence around my green bean seeds, and planting my favorite delicata squash. Now the countdown begins until harvest in 60-120 days.
Although I wait for the growth of things just planted, I have been able to enjoy many things from my yard that have yet to fail me. Dandelions blooms have been fried and soaked in almond oil to make a lotion bar for my soon-to-be dried out gardener's hands. Lettuce and spinach from my cold frame, planted back in the fall, have filled my omelets and salad bowls to the brim. Chives and foraged ramps from a neighboring woodsy area have brought taste and smells to home-cooked meals.
Asparagus has been popping up every day to be grilled with mozzarella cheese, garlic and olive oil or simply eaten cooked with butter and garlic salt. And last, but not least, my rhubarb has brought me the annual pleasure of a 50-year-old family recipe that reminds me of days gone by when my husband was alive and asking for the rhubarb puff that his Aunt Phyllis used to make. Life is so good in the springtime and the cold, boring winter doldrums are nowhere to be found.
Well, I have rested for long enough and need to return to the tasks of a rural homesteader. I have clothes to bring in from the line, a bed to make, eggs to gather, seeds to plant, weeds to pull, fish to feed, an outdoor fire to build for our supper of burned hotdogs and asparagus, and a newly opened pool to be cleaned. I hear my neighbor mowing for the second time this week, so I might need to rev up the mower, too.
Someday, soon, I might find the time to take a nap in my hammock, but before I go, let me share that wonderful recipe for rhubarb puff so that maybe you might harvest your bounty and make as a treat for your family! Happy Spring to my Capper's Farmer friends!
Photos property of Lori DeYoung.
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