High Grove Farm Journal – April 2022
May 04, 2022 (Westby, WI)
By Jessica Rogers
Will winter’s gloom ever loosen its hold on the Midwest this year? April started with snow and fog on our farm. A serious effort was made to stay focused and motivated on spring farm projects in this weather. It required lots of discipline on our part! But after a big hot breakfast with plenty of coffee for Drew and I – and hot cocoa for the kids – we were ready.
We spent a lot of the month outside working on projects during the day between chore times. We cleared fence lines, put up new fences around pastures we built last year and cleaned out the pole shed where we stored hay all winter. Now we are building a hoophouse/greenhouse for my seedlings that have taken over the living room windows.
April had some nice warm days mixed in with the rain and overcast skies, but pasture grasses, trees and plants are still very slow to grow. The fields are wet and muddy, which pushes planting back for the year. We were able to haul out a few piles of manure that we stockpiled during the “too wet for driving in the field” conditions. Typically, manure spreading is a daily task.
The cows are sleeping less and less in the free stall barn and choosing to wander down towards the woods to sleep in the pasture instead. I always like seeing them on pasture but bringing them up to milk in the mornings is more of walk now! However, I love listening to the owls hooting to each other across the surrounding valleys and ridgetops while I herd the cows towards the barn with the sun just starting to peak up over the farthest ridge.
The middle of the month had a few warm days – Easter Sunday being one. We were very blessed to have such a sunny mild day for it since it had been almost constant rain and gloom before then. During those rainy days, I did get most of my garden seeds started in trays and placed on my old greenhouse shelves in the living room window and in a cold frame outside against the foundation of the house. The little seedlings have been growing slow with the lack of sunlight, but they will be bursting with energy and growth spurts once we finish the greenhouse! It is made of five hog panels for the hoops and built on a frame of 2x4s with corner posts dug two feet into the ground and soon will be covered in plastic. It was quick to build and, other than having to replace the plastic occasionally, it should last a very longtime and help us grow a lot of our own food, which is something we love to do.
Carter hung up Laney’s swing in the tree, and the kids have enjoyed many expeditions into the woods on adventures after school. Homeschooling is coming to an end for the year so long as spring’s showers slow down. Any sunny day we have, we can’t help but finish classes early and get outside! Yesterday morning we watched as Caleb helped Laney climb a tree for the first time. She came running into the house yelling, “I can climb trees! I can climb trees,” and we’re very proud of the new skill she had learned. Sharing moments together like this reminds me daily how blessed we are to be able to farm with our children, and we are so thankful for the opportunity to do so.
I cleaned out the root cellar full of pumpkins and squash that were starting to get spots on them and beginning to spoil. The garden fed us well all winter and the few winter vegetables (like butternut squash and pie pumpkins) we didn’t get around to eating are now for the chickens to enjoy. The left-over potatoes we have are starting to sprout, so I think they will need to be planted as soon.
Winter barn clothes have been washed and put away for the year for the second time! Ugh… and I hope I don’t see them again for a LONG TIME!
This week we put a group of 15 heifers out on a new pasture that is next to the house. They are loving it so much and I love watching them out of the windows. We move them to a small new section of that pasture once or twice a day. That way they eat just the tops off the grass, fertilize as they go and don’t muddy up the pasture since they are moved to new growth fast enough to keep the ground from being overused.
Thanks for reading, and I hope to report back to you all next month with lots of sunshine and growth on the farm! Thank you for supporting us Westby Creamery small family farmers and if you want more daily life on our farm, including fun videos, follow @westbycoopceamery on Instagram!
Blessings to you all,
–Jessica Rogers is a Westby Creamery farmer-owner who is sharing glimpses of farm life with us.