If you live in the northeast as I do, inspiration is a must. I can look out my window and see great mounds of dirty snow and the kids still trudge off to school in parkas, boots, hats and mittens. The calendar may say spring but my yard says no way. So, I have been looking for things to get me motivated and I found it in a couple of places. First, I stuck a stick down deep in my garden and found that the ground is soft down as much as six inches. That means I will will be pulling parsnips and carrots next week. Then I pulled some of the mulch off my herb bed and found green growing stuff. I will have to get out my herb book to identify everything but it sure looked pretty. My next stop was at our hives. The bees were busy as, well, bees and looking healthy. My final stop was at the bookstore. I was just looking as I had some time before picking a kid up at driver’s ed and what did I find but Carleen Madigan’s new book, The Backyard Homestead. Carla is a friend of mine, an editor at Storey, my publishing house, and a neighbor. This is one of those “gotta have it books”. It reminds me of a scaled down version of Carla Emery’s book, An Encyclopedia Of Country Living. Carla’s book was my first homesteading book. It looks like it has been through two wars. The spine is duct-taped together and the pages all dog-eared. When I found out Carla had died, I wept. I never met her but I felt like I knew her.

A new generation of backyard homesteaders will still want Carla’s book but I hope they find a place for Carleen’s too. The illustrations show these fabulous, tidy layouts for yards of different sizes. I love those pictures. Of course, they bear no resemblance to the reality of a small scale homestead. Chickens and rabbits, gardens and tools, honey and canning stuff are not neat things. The creativity required to grow and nurture food stuff is messy by nature. I would not trust too neat a farmer. But the idea of that perfection feeds my soul.

I got the tomatoes started last night. I have 72 starts going. Now I just have to keep the cat out of them. I got the broccoli, cabbage, leeks, and lots of peppers going to. I am worse than a woman expecting her first baby when it comes to my seeds. I will be checking them constantly, waiting for the first green shoot that signals life. The carrots and beets will get started today. The rest of the seeds sit there, little packs of possibility.

I made one other purchase at the book store. A kind reader suggested I read Dies The Fire by S.M. Stirling. I know I crab about all of us spending too much money but as a writer, I depend on people plunking down hard cash so I can make a living doing what I love so I do but books when I can. I love the book. We are going away for the weekend (no post until Monday) and Dies The Fire is going with me. It’s crazy but I love post-apocalyptic fiction.