Every homesteader, farmer and gardener feels the thrill of spring as it breezes into the year. It’s such a wonderful time for any person, or any religious persuasion, to celebrate cycles of renewal and rebirth. Here are some homestead traditions for this time of year – from our family to yours!
Spring on the Homestead
Spring Bulbs – There are a lot of ways to celebrate spring on the homestead and one of my favorites is to start in the fall of the previous year by planting spring flowering bulbs. I know you’re tired come October; you’re busy with the harvest, the upcoming holidays and, if you’re like me, you’re so infinitely practical that sometimes bulbs can seem a little bit of a frilly waste of time. Not so! I can’t describe the joy that I get from my daffodils. It’s an almost ethereal feeling for this very pragmatic girl. I believe that nature has a unique ability to glorify the Creator in a way that transcends words. Pretty deep for a homestead post but if all I have to do to experience this joy is to plunk a few bulbs in the ground in the fall, I’m all over that. I try to plant just a few every year (the budget isn’t big for stuff like that) and stagger them so that I have some blooming in early, middle and late spring.
For some quick, simple advice from Farm Girl Gabs on planting spring blooming bulbs, click here.
Spring Branches – If you have fruit trees or spring flowering shrubs then this is the easiest spring or Easter decoration ever. Cut some 1-4′ branches from your fruit trees once their buds have swollen and are set to burst open. Bring them in, stripping the bottoms of any buds and place them in vases of water. In a few days, you’ll have branches of blooms. They’re simply so beautiful, they’ll take your breath away.
Our favorites are peach, plum, forsythia, pussy willow and flowering quince.
Spring Books – Whether you’re tucking in with your children or reading them for your own delight, these books are sure to please in the spring. A personal favorite, The Secret Garden, is one I’m reading again with my children. Hope is the word that summarizes this book for me. Hope, that often forgotten commandment. Hope is to be found in every garden, each growing space being it’s own analogy.
Nature’s Art Box is a fun one any time of year but spring is as good a time as any to pick up a copy and start nature crafting with your kids and grandkids. Hey, you could really have fun doing some of these on your own! Learning to use natural materials for crafts and games means that, wherever you are, there’s built in fun. Turning bell flowers into stick-maiden skirts and willow whips into knights’ swords is an worthwhile talent. Although it’s a Christmas post (Easter, Christmas – can’t have one without the other, right), we used books like Nature’s Art Box to guide us as we built our wildcrafted crèche. What a wonderful process that was! To learn more about that, click here to read the post. Click here to pin on Pinterest for later.
The Mitford Series, written by Jan Karon, is one of my all-time favorite family of books. Set in the mountains of North Carolina, the books follow the life of an Episcopalian minister and the small town in which he lives. They are quiet books – apart from the realities of life in this world, there’s no gratuitous sex, violence or foul language. What there is, is an abundance of wonderful characters that draw you into their lives. These are a great spring read to revitalize your spirit and help you grow your faith in humanity. The world is a harsh place, but we needn’t be equally harsh. Let Mitford and Father Tim help you keep the faith.
Captivating, by John and Stasi Eldridge is a great read for shaking off the old and putting on the new for any woman out there. Wild at Heart by John Eldridge is the equivalent for men. I love them both and this is the perfect time of year to read them as we begin anew.
Fairy Gardens – These whimsical gardens have gotten so popular lately and I love them! My kids build little fairy forts all over the place, filling them with homemade stick furniture and leaving little treats for them. When I was a child, my step mother would have us leave small gifts at Equinox and Solstice for the fairies and elves and they, in turn, would gift us neat rocks or small trinkets. It was so magical for me.
Bear and Lion Mama did a great round up post on fairy gardens, click here to see it. If you have brave lads who aren’t as into fairy gardens as your fair lasses, here’s a post from Fun at Home with Kids on building a dinosaur garden, click here.
Good Friday Potato Planting
Good Friday is traditionally the time for planting seed potatoes. If it works for your zone, get those spuds into the ground! We’ve tried a couple different methods but I still think this is my favorite way to grow a lot of potatoes in a limited amount of space – the post is from Growing Lots Urban Farm and you can read it by clicking here.
Easter Baskets, Passover meals and More!
As Christians, Easter is a deeply meaningful holiday for us and we take several weeks during our homeschool days to study it and learn about its symbols and the way people celebrate all over the world. Here are some of the things we do to specifically celebrate Easter, with other springtime feasts and festivals to follow.
Living Easter Baskets are a fun way to make Easter baskets that are far removed from the cheap-o, meaningless packages of plastic and sugar you can buy at any dime store. Growing your own Easter grass takes time and care which makes it a perfect activity for any homestead kid. After Easter, the grass can be fed to the chickens and goats and everyone is happy!
To learn how to make a living Easter basket, please visit our homestead kids blog over at Hobby Farms online, called Farm Sprouts, by clicking this link.
To learn how to make felt Easter eggs to decorate your basket with, please visit Teri at The Homestead Honey by clicking this link. For 4 different natural ways to decorate your eggs, please click on this link from Herbal Academy of New England. To learn how to blow out eggs for decorating, please visit our link here. To learn some natural, less toxic ways to dye your Easter eggs, please visit our link there.
Easter Treats – Aside from Easter baskets, who doesn’t love a good Easter treat?! Hot Cross Buns are an absolute favorite of ours for Good Friday.
Here’s a sourdough version (for our health) of the Hot Cross Bun from Nourishing Joy, please click here.
For some treats to make with kids, please visit Farm Sprouts again by clicking here.
Follow His Week – For this one, we grab our New Testament and, every day of Easter week, we try to follow what the Savior is doing. We read about His last earthly miracles, the people He hung out with and the final things He declared about His mission. We remember how truly real His friendship with us is and how often He pursues us into our own, personal Gardens of Gethsemane to rescue us still.
The last few days of the week are made very personal to us as we follow Father Tim’s example (remember those Mitford books I suggest you read?) by darkening our windows and mirrors on Maundy Thursday, the day Christ was crucified. Up go every extra blanket in the house to cover our numerous windows; down go the shades and blinds; closed are the shutters. We cover the mirrors, too, to show that, in this moment, we just are concerned with what we look like. For three days we roam around our house in relative darkness, going nuts with the knowledge that it’s beautiful outside but we aren’t opening our home to see it. We have good conversations about what it might have been like should The Light of the World opted to do something other than suffer through the Atonement for our sakes. We imagine what it would be like if the darkness were always around us.
Come Sunday morning, we rip those blankets down with such glee. As the light spills in we open all the windows, shutters and blinds. We take the black, garbage bags down from the mirrors and make sure we’re neat, tidy and modest as we make our way to church. The kids are good sports about this tradition, even though it drives them bonkers living without light for that long. Our house becomes a small representation of the tomb into which Christ’s body was laid and then becomes a parable of hope and new life. This tradition takes some fortitude but it’s one of my favorites.
A Christian Passover
I can’t tell you how my appreciation and understanding of Easter has deepened by studying Passover. I have so much respect for the way the Jewish people observe their feast days and festivals. We’ve had equal enjoyment observing Rosh Hashana, Sukkot and other holidays. I purchased a book called God’s Appointed Times by Barney Kasdan, a messianic Jew, that really helped me translate these holidays into my Christian culture – we share so much history and doctrine with our Jewish friends, after all!
We have a simple Seder plate and take some time to gather all the items we need for the meal. Each child is in charge of explaining one of the symbols of the food on the plate. We read the story of Moses’s people and the first Passover, too. Sometimes we do this with friends and other times we do it just as a family.
To make Passover more engaging for Jewish children (or any children), here’s a great list of ideas from Mazel Moments, click here.
For a Christian families perspective on observing Passover in their family, please click here to read a post from A Small Snippet.
Here’s a pin on Pinterest from Martha Stewart for Ten Plague bags – we did these in school group this year and they were a huge, huge hit with kids and grown ups!! Click here for the pin.
Other super fun holidays this time of year include:
Holi Festival of Color – A Hindu spring festival where people dress in green or white. Children then squirt each other with water pistols filled with yellow or red colored liquid. Everyone blows colored powder on each other through bamboo pipes, getting soaked, colorful and messy to celebrate spring.
Songkran – We learned about this one when we studied Thailand one year. It’s a three day long, Buddhist water festival in April to celebrate the new year. They hold parades with big statues of Buddha that spray water on people watching. In fact, people all over sort of just throw water at each other for fun. Families will often also release fish into rivers as an act of service. Water is such a powerful symbol of life!
May Day – To celebrate the return of spring, children in England and other places in Europe dance around tall maypoles, draped in ribbons. The dancing wraps the ribbons tightly around the pole, making neat patterns. It’s also traditional to leave surprise treats on doorsteps and doorknobs. We usually make cones out of paper, fill them with treats or flowers and deliver them, sneaky-like in the early morning to friends and neighbors. Kids love doing secret acts of service – it tickles their fancy and mine!
Did I miss one? What’s your favorite way to celebrate spring on the homestead? They’re Not Our Goats has a lovely post about her family’s traditions for Easter and you can read that here.
To learn more about quality resources for traditions, feasts and festivals for your family, please visit our post on the topic by clicking this link.
To get you started on your spring celebrations, you may need these fine products: