The beauty of March is that the mornings are too cold, and the evenings too dark to get more than eight hours in the gardens. With all the excitement of the season, it is important to pace ourselves and ease back, not only into the physically strenuous aspects of farming, but the brain and time consumption.

Already we have gotten a lot done. A late start is our style, but this year we really did it right by actually taking some time to get away! Two weeks spent in two feet of east coast snow was just what we needed to really feel ready for our return, home and to work. And what was waiting for us here but another week of snow! It is still winter, after all.

We have our second brood of mini meaties, the first being all Cornish cross and the second a mix: six red broilers and seven Cornish. Despite a higher than ever mortality rate in the first brood, they are peeping away under warming lights in their now-closed brooder. Soon after feathering out, they will be pecking about in their own yard, as any happy chicken ought to. I purchased the second batch from another source, and they seem to be hardier, as far as chicks meant for eating go. Alas, their lives are short but pleasant here at Coffee Creek. We are seeing a little wear and tear on the coop, and will have some minor repairs soon, but all is holding up for now. Even the pail of chick starter, but not for long. I will put that on my growing list of things to do: we need a new feed distributor, and I am hoping it does not have to be me!

We finally removed the sure-to-break-an-ankle-at-some-point pallet floor that once graced the greenhouse, and replaced it with crush and run. The gravel is so neat and tidy in comparison! My hopes are not only that it will be a much safer environment, but that the thickly laid, and well tamped gravel will pose a barrier for the mice that reeked such havoc among seed trays last spring. We shall see about that. An already apparent improvement: the pallets made a much better bonfire than they ever did a floor!

I spent the warm afternoon disinfecting plug trays in bleach water and laying them to dry in spotted sun. It was all Waylon could do to not mess with them. He is so bored without other children on the farm, and is only interested to hang out and help us in the gardens for so long. He really needs a buddy close in age, but there are no other children in the neighborhood. Swimming lessons begin mid-month, and tomorrow while we are in town for laundering we will check into some gym time with other kids. I see martial arts looming in the not too distant future, and for that I am both excited and apprehensive. The boy is so interested in fighting we must nurture it to a degree, so long as there is a discipline to which he is interested in adhering.

With all the trays stacked in the greenhouse and ready for planting, I went on to the next, and possibly the most time-consuming project: sifting compost. I am trying to cut back on my farm store habit as much as possible, and potting soil is top on the list. We have two bins in our three bin system brimming full with composted goodness, and it is my intention to sift out the chunks over 1/4 inch so that I may blend our potting soil with little dependence on bagged compost, peat moss, or the dreaded vermiculite and perlite. What is the trouble with these? Well, other than their high cost (I start all of my plants from seed, and sell plants and starts throughout the season. I go through a LOT of potting mix), my life is farming, not mining Vermiculite often grows with asbestos, so I don't consider it a safe material to have around, especially the children. The more we can provide here on our land, the better. Better source, better quality, and a better price. We have no shortage of chicken shit, so let it be our gold.

Tomorrow, there will be laundry, and with it comes town. Francis has a job in the city, framing a room in a fellow's basement, so it will be a Waylon and mama day. That used to be the way it was. Everyday. It is really special to have these two very different experiences to relate to and compare, and I find that I am thankful for the helping hands as well as the time to just be with the boy. I think we both look forward to a little time to ourselves, even if it is for work, as well as time one on one with Waylon. He is so different with me than he is with Francis. I have always thought of myself as a real no-nonsense mama, but for some reason he always has to try with me, and he doesn't with Francis. They have a special understanding with each other. So do we, but I think he is a little too aware of that unconditional acceptance sometimes.

Tomorrow is another opportunity to build upon today, and we will in many ways. Waylon and I will have our time and our dynamics. I will tear down the oppressive dirty clothes tower and build a mountain of pristine pants. I will shovel and sift and sift and shovel and sift until my first batch of potting soil is ready for the planting. Then, dinner with the girls, and I am cooking. But tomorrow will not be as enjoyable unless now I sleep, so good night, and fare the well.