Flower Farming - The Homestead Weekly

The Homestead Weekly, 14 March 2021

Whooooo, things have been crazy! I knew they would be when I decided to officially try out flower farming, but the past couple weeks have really proven to me that I’m definitely not used to “working” this much (aside from the work of homemaking and childcare, obviously). All in all, things have been going pretty good though, and I’m really proud of all that we’ve been doing and what we’ve accomplished thus far.

In the Kitchen

When I haven’t been working all day on flower farm stuff, I find I still take great pleasure in cooking, like yesterday when I whipped up the most delicious creamy chicken soup with a side of our favorite homemade gluten-free bread. The rest of the time (which is most of the week), I am so exhausted from having spent all my waking hours running around nonstop between the farm and the kids that I usually go for the fastest, easiest, laziest option.

I am counting my blessings though that Sam’s Club restocked their gluten-free precooked meatballs though, which I have SORELY missed the past few years they haven’t carried them. We picked up a bag last time we went (at the beginning of the month), and they’ve made dinner super easy to pull together—I just make up a quick homemade spaghetti sauce or Swedish meatball sauce, cook up some rice or pasta, and call it good. Bada bing, bada boom! (I am thinking though that I’d better buy at least two or three bags on my next trip out…)

On the Menu This Week: Swedish meatballs and rice, meatballs with homemade spaghetti sauce over pasta, creamy chicken soup + bread, lots of avocado ‘n cheese tortillas (with a fried egg on top), creamy white chicken chili, Mexican haystacks

In the Garden

Starting up the flower farm and going official has meant that I’ve (obviously) had to do a lot in the way of seed sowing, prepping beds, working out a planting schedule, and more. We originally bought six grow lights for the year, but when I decided to pursue flower farming 100% and actually put pen to paper to work out a seed sowing schedule, I figured out pretty quick that I would need about double that amount. So we now have more grow lights on the way and our basement has been converted to a grow room/makeshift chick brooder. Honestly, though—I love it. I love escaping down there a few times a day to check on my seedlings, almost all of which are coming up and looking pretty good, actually (better than any seeds we’ve ever done in the past, at any rate!).

We have the first of 8 garden beds built and filled, with the second ready to be built this weekend. The others will happen as soon as we can get the lumber transported here, which I’m hoping can happen by the end of the month. I have plans to direct seed the first garden bed today or tomorrow, and I’ll direct seed the second as soon as it’s finished. The others will almost all have transplants in them rather than anything that’s being directly sown.

I was a little nervous about the seedlings I directly sowed in our front garden bed at the beginning of the month, but I took off the frost cover today after having left it on for nearly a week due to weather, and I was so happy to see some definite seedlings in the rows that I planted! For sure I should get some bachelor’s buttons out of it and the larkspur and poppies seem to be coming up pretty well too, but I’m not as sure about the nigella and Bells of Ireland—they definitely have seedlings in their rows too, but they are quite a bit smaller and/or I can’t be sure they’re not weeds :).

The tulips we planted last fall are popping up all over the place, as are some daffodils and other things that were here from the previous owners. I am on the hunt to find something that will prevent the neighbor’s cat from constantly digging up my front bed with all the tulips and using it as its personal litter box…I already tried sprinkling cinnamon all over the bed, but as that hasn’t done much (if anything) to deter it, it looks like I’ll be trying cayenne pepper next. Sorry, cat!

Direct sown the last two weeks: larkspur, Bells of Ireland, bachelor’s button, nigella (love-in-a-mist), pennycress, and Shirley and breadseed poppies.

Sown (indoors) the last two weeks: snapdragons, pansies, yarrow, salvia, mint, stock, strawflower, calendula, rudbeckia, Canterbury bells, honeywort, lavender, sunflowers (experimentally), bee balm, foxglove, phlox, Chinese forget-me-not, and California poppies. As for vegetables, we’ve done onions (red, yellow, green), broccoli, cabbage, kale, lettuce, spinach, celery, cauliflower, cilantro, parsley, and peppers. Everything has basically come up except for the cauliflower, and most of the flowers have already come up except for some of the ones I planted in the last 3-5 days.

The chicken’s domain, on the other side of our mini orchard

In the Coop

Sad news: one of our laying hens died on us :(. Matt went out to check on the hens and give them the scraps he’d saved one night, and he discovered that one of them had just died right in front of the coop. We have no idea what caused it, as there were no obvious signs of attack or injury or anything like that. It was one of our Black Copper Marans, which lay our darkest eggs. We only had two and didn’t buy any more this year, so we’ll be definitely short on having the super dark eggs in the cartons that we sell.

I know it’s all part of having a homestead, but I’m still super sad that it happened.

As for the new chicks in town, they aren’t so little and new anymore—over 3 weeks old, and they’re starting to look distinctly awkward and not fluffy anymore. We moved them from our closet to the basement once they started stinking a bit more, and now that they’re starting to learn to fly out of their makeshift brooder, we’ll need to rig up something outside in the barn for them within the next week or so. Generally you can put chicks (well, pullets by that point) outside by about 6 or 7 weeks old, so we would just need to keep their heat lamp plugged in all the time for the next couple weeks until we could transition them to the “in-between” coop (aka, the coop we bought last year while we were living with my folks, as our Chicken Palace was too big to fit in their backyard).

In the Playroom

The name of the game lately is “trying to find more time in a day to take care of All the Things and not let the children feel neglected.” It’s been a crazy balancing act for sure, especially as there have been many days over the past couple weeks that I’ve easily put in full-time hours working on the flower farm, if not more. There are the obvious pockets of time to take advantage of (like when my oldest is in kindergarten and the two boys are napping), but the rest of the time, I just fit in what I can where I can.

Hyrum is *thisclose* to walking—he regularly stands on his own, cruises along the furniture easily, and can get to standing position from the floor without holding on to anything. He did take the tiniest little step on his own a week ago (on March 7th), but has shown no inclination to take more since. Looks like our boys are both cut from the same cloth, as Mathias was stubborn when it came to walking, too!

Speaking of Mathias, he showed a major regression in his potty training when we didn’t hop on the commitment train with it a couple weeks ago and just go into full-on potty training mode. He’s now easing back into going again on his little potty, but I think I’m still going to wait until Raven’s spring break at the end of the month to start “really” doing it—no more diapers, undies, following him around all day long, the whole bit. Wish me luck!

On nice days, the kids love being outside with me as I work (or, if we’re in the front yard and the baby is out with us, I basically just forego the idea of getting any work done and try to keep Hyrum within the confines of the yard, as there’s no fence there to keep him contained). Raven has started to step up and help more with a lot of different things in and out of the house, including collecting the chicken eggs on her own, helping me water the seedlings, and more. She’s also a huge help watching her brothers, and she’s trustworthy enough that I can have her and Mathias out in the front yard without me out there constantly supervising, and I don’t worry about them. It’s nice having an older kid!

Yup, getting pretty used to living in a construction zone

In the Home

Everything is being neglected around here for long periods of time–laundry, dishes, tidying up. Trying to keep up with spring planting and the demands of starting the flower farm means I basically have very little time left beyond basic survival for all of us (we’ve almost run out of clean clothes several times over the last few weeks). I don’t know that it will get better anytime soon, but I’m hoping that by the end of May, things will have calmed down enough (since most of our plants will be in the ground at that point, at least the first succession of plantings) that I can focus on decluttering and tidying and doing all the million and one things I’ve been falling behind on around here.

Matt did at least use wood putty to prep the drawers in the kitchen island so he can finally put on the newly painted drawer fronts, but the drawer faces themselves are still sitting propped up on plastic cups and containers all over our kitchen table and counters, lol. Little by little…

Oh, and I guess that’s actually something I haven’t shared here at all—we painted our kitchen island! (And by “we,” I mean “my mom,” who came and helped us out a couple weekends ago to tie up a couple of our looming house projects that kept getting endlessly pushed off.) In addition to painting the kitchen island a very dark green/gray, we also got our final (new) rug put into place (thanks to additional help from my in-laws, who were also in town visiting that weekend) and moved a dresser that’s been in the wrong room since we moved here at the end of November.

We still don’t have a kitchen floor and my fridge is still the first thing you see in our living room when you walk in, but we at least are getting closer to having things completed!

The kids were thrilled to have Grandma stay with us for a couple days!

In the Soul

I knew that starting a business (esp. a farming business) would be exhausting, but lemme just reiterate—IT IS EXHAUSTING. I basically have no down time, and our house is basically always a complete disaster. As I said before, I’m hoping that there will be a slight lull around May when most seeds are sown and I’m just waiting to start harvesting and selling, but until then…it’s going to be intense. It’s okay though, because for the most part, I really enjoy the work and the sense of purpose it gives me each day!

That’s not to say that it’s all been easy/optimistic/fun…nope. There have definitely been days I haven’t felt great and didn’t really want to work, but that I had to make myself so that I wouldn’t be behind on seed starting. There have also been plenty of moments of self-doubt, where I’m sure that I’ve gone insane and that I’m an impostor and that I have no business even trying to take on something like this. Right now the whole operation feels like one huge leap of faith, as we don’t actually have any flowers and very few established plants to speak of. For me, the hard part isn’t getting seeds to germinate—it’s getting them to survive the hardening off process and then the transplanting. I’m trying to just adopt a mindset of embracing experiments and being okay with failure (because I know that I’ll inevitably have several), but it’s still hard sometimes.

I almost wish I could see into the future six months just so I could see how everything ends up playing out (I wonder if that would add stress to my current situation or relieve it), but at any rate, the whole thing feels like a bit of a crazy adventure ride, and there’s no getting off now!

I’m still going to try to post here once a week, but as the last couple weeks have shown me, a LOT of things (including blogging and reading, two of my great loves) have to take a backseat at the moment. If you want slightly more regular updates, make sure you’re following the flower farm on Instagram and that you also like us on Facebook. I wish numbers weren’t so important, but they really are!

Thanks for the enthusiasm and support you’ve shown us so far, and I just hope that I’ll have a decent growing season to show you this year! Now I’d best get off to bed so I have the energy I’ll need to sow a huuuuge bunch of new seeds tomorrow 🙂

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