Winter Awakenings, Spring Sprouts

There’s a morning ruckus that serenades the silence of the rising sun here at the homestead. At the first sliver of light, Tom turkey sings louder than the rooster. His gobble is glorious, and he keeps it consistent all day long. Personally, I love it. It’s like the hobby farm fight song that echoes through the land. It reminds me that we’re doing something important here, something worthwhile, purposeful.

The hunk on the other hand, finds it maddening at times. I’m in the garden prepping for spring while he’s up at the house transplanting shrubs or pulling weeds, all the while Tom turkey relentlessly putts, purrs, cackles, yelps and gobbles. Soon my sweet hunk has tolerated all he can take of the racket, and without warning unleashes the most boisterous, obnoxious, ridiculously thunderous Tom turkey mockery he can possibly muster,


So. So. Loud. Surely his booming man-voice echoes across the expanse of farmland that surrounds, and I picture roaring tractors coming to an abrupt halt in the middle of the fields, bewildered farmers cut off the engine and attentively listen, flocks of snow-geese erupt into fear-driven flight, fisherman on the back bay search aimlessly to identify the mysterious, wiley cry bouncing off the water’s ripple, our neighbors down the way slam the windows shut and lock their doors in terror, certainly a madman is afoot. I on the other hand, roll my eyes, smile knowingly and dig a little deeper into the earth, feeling grateful for the weirdness that is my life.

We harvested all but a few of our turkeys in the fall and we lost many of our hens and roosters after Hurricane Matthew blew through. That storm was no joke. It downed 10 or so trees in the poultry pasture, damaged coops and runs, flood waters ravaged the space and even drowned our first ever baby chick to be born on the homestead. It was quite shocking and obviously it scared the ever-loving bejeezus out of our entire flock, traumatizing them to the point that they refused to return to their coops at night. If you know anything about the domesticated chicken, then you are well aware of the fact that they are simply no match for hungry predators. If they’re roaming about in the belly of the forest come sundown, they are going to be digested in the belly of a beast come sunrise. So needless to say, our flock took a pretty big hit before the long winter months rolled in, making the world extraordinarily quiet around here for a spell.

At first, I was feeling a little down about the lack of hobby farm happenings around here, but then I decided to embrace the goodness, to relish this downtime and to focus on other significant and worthy aspects of life for a tic or two. After all, less feathered friends to fuss over means less money spent on feed. Less feed means less poop. Less poop means less time spent in the cold cleaning out coops. It ended up being a surprisingly welcome reprieve this winter.

Just a few turkeys, a few chickens, books to read, words to write, bread to bake, dreams to dream, family to love. I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few months reflecting on life, counting blessings, remembering how important it is to carry peace down every path we venture upon. I think having less responsibility this winter was paramount in helping me work through some of the negativity I’ve been carrying with me for a while. The political funk that surrounds, the loss of a loved one in the fall, the health challenges one of my dearest loves faced before the holidays… You know, just icky life happenings that are bound to creep into our existence at some point or another. Those circumstances take a toll on one’s outlook on life. We sort of loose our footing for a minute. I believe I’m mostly rooted in optimism and love. I try to roll with the punches and just embrace the knowing that if I wake up breathing and the sun does rise, then there is a garden of hope and happiness that needs tending. I suppose that I just needed time to find my breath again. To find my space on the mat again, not to just go through the motions, but to truly breathe in the unyielding abundance and beauty and spiritual, soulful mind-body-universe connection that my yoga practice has granted to me over the last 25 years or so. These last couple months, I’ve been able to do just that. It has been a season of healing and such a blessing.

And now it’s time for work. Now it’s time once again to shift my focus and embrace the newness of yet another season. I’m so ready and so invested and so refreshed. Newness is on the horizon. We have cleaned out the garden, worked the compost into the soil, spread weed mat between the beds and covered it up with pine straw to create a soft walking and work path. We’re planning an orchard to take the place of the old chicken pasture. Since the storm knocked out so many trees, there’s an abundance of light and openness in that space now. We’re seeking out the best of the best fruit bearing trees and feeling thankful that although we had a rough go of it as the result of the storm, it actually presented us with this wonderful opportunity for future harvests. Hundreds of my seeds are already sprouting and growing stronger with every passing day. The hunk set aside posts for the greenhouse we’re building and all of the coops and runs have been reinforced and repaired. Last weekend we picked up 5 new hens to add to the flock, all of which are laying the most beautiful eggs each morning. Our 25 or so meat birds will arrive at the homestead this week, or next. We are designing a few really cool “quail tractors” to house some of the 70+ developing quail embryos my dear friend is currently cooking in her incubator. Next week my poultry loving gal pal and I will head a few miles down the road, across the border into North Carolina to stock up on feed from a local mill. I’ve built a couple of worm composting systems over the past couple weeks and remember those bees I swore I’d have last spring? Well, looks like it might actually be happening for us this spring instead! So many irons in the fire, so much excitement, so much gratitude.

Spring is right around the corner and well… The Wildwood Homestead is ready.


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