Spring has come early here in Lithuania. The snow has cleared completely and snowdrops have pushed their lazy, drooping heads through the freshly thawed earth. Birds are chirping in blue skies and the damp, dreary depression that was February is a fast-fading memory.
Spring is a time for new beginnings, but particularly so for us this year. We are primed and ready to plant our vegetables and buy some livestock. Except that we’re really not ready. Having spent many hours over the winter months nose-deep in books on growing vegetables and keeping chickens I still feel I know absolutely nothing.
The sheer size of the task ahead overwhelms me – keeping the renovations on track, using what garden space we can for vegetables (that won’t get trampled by builders or dug up later for plumbing), preparing outhouses for animals. It’s all completely new to me. But time is ticking so I just need to knuckle down and get on with it. I’m sure I’ll make some mistakes, but if I keep studying until I’m as well-informed as I’d like I’ll simply get nothing done.
Yesterday I made a start on the chicken run. I’ve picked a spot at the back of our barn that I think is ideal. The barn wall will form one wall and a small lean-to designed for storing firewood will form the roosting area. The run will be spacious enough to house the chickens comfortably with plenty of ground for them to range and forage. When I’m sure there are no dogs on the loose we can allow the chickens out to roam and forage around the extensive garden.
Unfortunately the site had become something of a dumping ground in recent years. I started clearing small pieces of rubbish into a bucket but soon discovered much larger items – the frame of a sofa, a few old coats, a pair of boots and bags of rubbish buried under the earth. I ended up with two large black sacks full to tipping point, and I’m not finished yet. While the top layer of soil is defrosted, the earth is still frozen solid underneath. I will need to borrow a small rotary tiller to turn it over and then pick through the remainder of the rubbish.
If the weather holds fine I hope to have the chicken run finished in about two weeks. I’m excited by the prospect of keeping my first chickens and I want them to be safe and happy in their run. Chilled-out chickens lay the best eggs.
In the meantime renovations on the house are going well. Arūnas is busy with a jackhammer cutting holes for doors. The solid concrete walls are nearly 40 cm (16 in) thick so it’s taking some time. One jackhammer (and one jackhammer operator!) have already packed it in. We’ve now sourced a stronger jackhammer and work seems to be back on track.