Imbolc is a holiday marking the very earliest signs of spring. It was observed by our ancestors for thousands of years, and is still celebrated today. For a detailed look at some historical practices, check out this blog post.
It’s still a bit cold to plant anything just yet, but our seeds are all ready & waiting. There has been mention of seed shortage of certain crops, namely onions, and sure enough if the grocery store seed racks aren’t strangely devoid of some important varieties. If you’re in the Pacific Northwest, this planting timetable may come in handy. A lot does depend on the weather, but having a calendar to plant by makes it easier to fit in our other projects like prepping the pig area, building more hoop tunnels, and getting the baby coop ready for our order of chickies.
This year we only wanted a few new chicks, and Cackle Hatchery has a convenient 15-chick minimum (most hatcheries have 25). After much catalog and web surfing, we decided on 5 each of these:
Welsummer – we have a couple of these now. They lay pretty dark brown and speckled eggs. Not great winter layers, but we like them anyway.
Barred Rock – another old favorite. Great winter layers, and big calm hens.
And a new-to-us breed, Golden Laced Wyandotte. They rank very highly on this handy chicken breed evaluation page, so we’ll give them a try.
Imbolc also means paying respects to our ancestors by researching and practicing some of the old traditions. One we started last year, and will be continuing, is making Brigid’s crosses from last harvest’s straw. They are hung over doorways for good luck, and even in barns and critter housing to keep livestock healthy and productive. In Ireland in the 1800’s it was said you could tell how long a family had lived in their home by how many Brigid’s crosses were tucked into the thatch over the front door.