Even though I live in Northern California, and by all accounts we have mild winters, every year right around now I start to go a little stir crazy. I know Spring is on the horizon, but this year it’s been especially wet, grey and rainy, I feel like winter is never going to end. But then, in the blink of an eye, sunlight hours get a little bit longer, the air gets a little bit warmer, and our vineyards turn dayglow yellow with the mustard flower bloom – Spring is near! And that means it’s time for my farm-family to kick it into gear and get all our early spring farm prep done. It’s a busy and exciting time because we know those summer gardens are not far away. So, what are we doing right now? A lot! My wife, Sharon, has flats and flats of microgreen pea shoots seedlings sprouting from garden trays for chef Steve.
To me, nothing tastes more like Spring than pea shoots. She’s also getting all our summer vegetable seedlings going in the greenhouse. In a few weeks, we’ll be out of frost season and we can get them into the ground.
A few weeks ago, we got a shipment of 30 egg laying heritage baby chicks that we’ll be introducing them to the big flock in a few months. With a large flock of hens ranging in age from 1 to 10 years, there’s always attrition. And our biggest project going on right now, my kids 4-H livestock which all just arrived. This year, our barn is full! My son Alex, 14, has two pigs named Buster and Lilly, my son Nico, 12, has two goats named Cap and Crunchy, and my daughter Ella, 10, has two lambs named Patrick and Tickles. I love seeing the barn full and hearing the grunts and the baas. It’s a lot of work for all of us, we must rise an hour earlier every morning to get down and deal with the animals. Evenings are spent in the barn caring for the animals as well. But what I love most is that as a family our little farm makes sure we spend so much great time all together – not me working too much, not my kids in their rooms on tablets – but down in little barn caring for our livestock, working together, laughing, and just being happy. It’s a busy time, but I get to spend so much time with family and see them working so hard on the 4-H projects, it’s really is the best time of the year!