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Making Spring Plans

Through the long winter months every gardener and farmer is busy making plans for spring. Just like many of you around the country, we're laying out gardens and picking out new plants and animals to add to the farm.

This will be our first year keeping a vegetable garden in Liberty. It is also our first year keeping a vegetable garden while keeping goats, but that's another matter. Our quarter of an acre vegetable plot is going to be home to lots of favorites and a few new treats. We'll be trying a small row of classic popcorn, a bed of radishes which are a new obsession of mine, and we'll be growing turnips for the first time.

My intention had been to place an extensive herb garden around our house, with large beds around our new kitchen door, but that's not feasible this year. With our home construction not yet begun, planting beds around the house would just mean moving or destroying them during the build. So I made space for a small herb patch inside the vegetable garden where I will plant a few classics like echinacea, basil, chamomile, and lavender. We're also putting a few fruits and berries around the outside of the garden as a small hedge, so we can enjoy raspberries, blueberries, and elderberries.

I have been taking part in the Herbal Academy's no charge short course, Materia Medica, and studying several herbals which I received as Christmas gifts. That's part of why I cannot resist putting some herbs in the vegetable garden this year. While I am hardly an "herbalist" at this point, I do want to experiment with making a few teas and balms for personal healing and enjoyment. Many of the plants that are so important for human health have the same benefits for animals, and I look forward to lining our nesting boxes with fresh herbs and offering some special treats to the goats.

Speaking of goats, we are hoping to have anywhere from two to eight kids here this spring - goats can have single babies or up to quadruplets, so there is just no knowing what Sweet Pea and Tater will reward us with. We'll be milking the girls and trying a few cheese and other diary recipes, and I hope to keep as many of this year's kids on our farm as possible. If we have a lot of boys, we'll be looking for good homes where they can be kept as pets.

We've also been discussing adding a Nubian goat or two to our herd. Nubians are much larger than Nigerian Dwarfs, weighing in at 140lbs or more. They have beautiful Roman noses and long, floppy ears, and they're known for somewhat sassy attitudes and excellent milk production. Adding one or two will certainly make us even more of a "real" farm.

My plans for new chickens are still uncertain. I'm not ordering any special breeds this year, since our flock is fairly full, but if a hen goes broody we'll be allowing her to hatch out a clutch. We are getting six more geese, because I can never resist adding geese to the flock. In addition to another Roman Tufted like our favorite gander, Pete, we'll be adding a few of the very rare Pomeranian geese to the barnyard.

While I can be pretty organized, I'm not someone who gets more pleasure out of planning than executing. All of this outlining and strategizing gets me very excited for the time, only a few months away now, when I can finally get my feet in the dirt again and start welcoming new critters to our farm.


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