Preparing the Farm for Spring


Preparing for Spring

Even with temperatures ranging in the 20’s and 30’s, there are tasks that can be done outside to prepare for the upcoming season.

Equipment repairs

The garden tiller has a tine replaced and the starter rope handle fixed. One of the chainsaws has a new bar installed and the chain on the other was sharpened. Tires on the Mule and tiller have been inspected and air added as needed.



A thorough cleaning of the greenhouse, a bit of organization and a new system for electricity is giving the greenhouse life for one more season. The top vent window also required repair since it blew off and was damaged in winter winds. Research is underway for the style and function that will be most useful for the next greenhouse. Rural King had seed potatoes and onion sets in stock so all garden seeds and plants are now purchased. The potatoes have been cut into slips and placed in mesh bags to dry out.

Martin House

An additional martin house was erected near the orchard. These fine feathered friends will help keep the bug population in check.


General clean up

Pampas grass has been cut down to allow for new growth. Most of the pond plants have been removed in preparation for a reset of the pond. Inside the house, organizing and decluttering have taken place.

Next Steps

-Transplant the garden plants into larger pots in the greenhouse.
-Check the bees and feed more winter patties if needed.
-Install a new skimmer, pump and waterfall in the goldfish pond.
-Till the gardens when dry enough.

All the Buzz

Last week we attended Bee School sponsored by the Crossroads Beekeepers out of Effingham. There were several displays and vendors in addition to an excellent workshop format. We attended the section on Managing the Established Hive and found out we are doing many things right. We got some good ideas about things to do in the future. Kudos to Crossroads Beekeepers for an informative day.

Both of our hives are doing quite well. The clusters are in the top box of the hive. We added winter patties ordered through Dadant and a spacer that gives the bees room to feed on these patties.



We continue to study how to improve the products from the hives. Potential exists for more honey, cut comb and establishing more hives.

As Spring approaches there will be more activity on the Farm. Early garden plant starts continue to thrive in the basement grow station. The greenhouse window has been repaired. An addtional martin house has been assembled. We are ready for spring and the chance to be outside more.

Leave a comment about your preparations for Spring.

A Week at the Farm

Here’s a glimpse of an average week at Five Feline Farm.

In addition to work at our regular jobs:

Nasturtiums, marigolds and brussels sprouts were added to the seedlings started in the basement grow area. The tomatoes, peppers, and herbs are about 2 inches tall and will need to be moved into larger pots before long.

The next step in the basement remodel has been completed. The pantry wall was transformed from old temporary barn wood siding to new slick car siding. The remaining walls await a decision on their fate. Every project ends with the statement: “We are not doing any more home improvement.” After a few days, the soreness will wear off and we’ll start planning the next project.

And now, relaxing with the Super Bowl. Neither team is a particular favorite, but the commercials are worth watching. Our favorites: Jeep and the Clydesdales.

How Does Your Garden Grow?


Gardening season starts in January here at Five Feline Farm.


The first task in any gardener’s year is to determine what to grow. Here at the Farm, we concentrate on vegetables we can preserve for winter and those we can eat fresh. It is important to keep the garden plans from year to year so crops can be rotated. Where the corn was planted last year, tomatoes will be planted this year. Beans will be replaced with peppers and so on.

Seed Order

As mentioned in a prior post, we order the majority of the garden seeds from Sustainable Seeds. This company specializes in organic, open pollinated and heirloom varieties. They do not print a catalog in keeping with their efforts to conserve resources. Check them out online at We also ordered a few seeds from The Cooks Garden (

Herb Day

There is nothing like a day spent learning about herbs and being motivated to try new things in the garden and kitchen. Last Saturday was spent at the University of Illinois Extension Herb Day in Urbana. The herb of the year for 2013 is Elder. We may have an Elder on the property so will watch this during the coming season. Donna won a beautiful, large potted Rosemary in the door prize drawing. The university extension offices are a valuable resource for gardeners and farmers. We recommend that you check into your local extension.

Plant Starts

The temperature outside hovers in the teens, but in the basement Spring begins in the form of seedlings. Shelves of grow lights and heat mats set up the perfect conditions to start the garden plants. Eleven varieties of tomatoes, nine types of peppers, four kinds of basil, cilantro, and parsley start poking green leaves through germinating mix. There are alfalfa spouts and mung bean sprouts almost ready. And what would Five Feline Farm be without some catgrass?

Check back each week to see what activities are going on at Five Feline Farm. Perhaps you’ll catch a glimpse of the life of the real cats.

Send in your questions about the Farm and we’ll post the answers.