What’s Happening on the Farm, Spring 2020

Journal April 18, 2020

Currently we are not having visitors to the farm because of the Covid 19 crisis. Hopefully that will change and we can have people out to share life on the farm as it changes through the seasons. We still have eggs for sale. Just call, text or email with your order and I will place them in the Welcome Center for you to pick up. Just leave money ($3 a dozen) on the fridge. We are always in need of egg cartons and appreciate your saving them for us to recycle.

Spring emerges from winter in tiny increments. Watching for signs of spring is one of the joys of living on a farm. Winter is a time to hunker down, to brave the cold, to endure the snow, to get acclimated to the darkness. Spring is a time of hope, renewed energy and birth. The first sign is the sun, feeling its warmth as it dawns earlier and climbs higher in the sky. The snow is the first thing to feel the warmth. It settles, water seeps away from the edge of the bank, fluff turns to ice crystals. White turns to brown and shades of gray. As it recedes it leaves behind bits of mold and moss-like figurines. Look closely and you will see evidence of life, little mice and mole tunnels, tuffs of grass and occasionally a nest where a litter of babies had been born and raised during dark winter.

The first sign of spring in the meadows is the pussy willows. A warm day or two above freezing awakens the tips of the bushes with their fuzzy buds emerging overnight. “Look, a sign of spring”, observed on a frigid sleigh ride through the swamp brings hope that warm weather is not far off.

Then there is mud. Wet, slimy, sticky, dirty mud. It sticks to your boots and clings to the bottom for your coveralls. It fills the treads on the tractor wheels and splashes up from the horses feet. Tiny rivers of water from the melting snow add to the mixture and depth. The intensity increases until the frost, which has sealed the earth, begins give way to the sun’s rays. Mud season seems to last forever until it is suddenly gone by a dramatic act of Mother Nature.

Last week the puddles seemed to be everywhere, low waterlogged ground greatly exceeding the high dry ground. Walking around the yard consisted of puddle jumping and, in some cases wading right through, hoping my boots didn’t leak. Then, as if by some miracle of nature , I was awakened at 3 am by distant thunder and flashes of lightning . I sat on the edge of the bed and watch as the storm approached from the west. I was startled as the lightning hit nearby and the thunder shook the house.

Hearing me stirring in the house, Rosie, my faithful border collie, scratched at the door. She is deathly afraid of thunder. Then came a down pouring of cold soaking rain as we made our way to the lambing barn for a barn check. It beat on the roof and made a strange swishing sound as the wind drove it in sheets. I sat on a bale, Rosie snuggled against my leg, watching a new set of twin lambs struggle to get up and find their mother’s udder and get their first drink of colostrum ( mothers first milk, rich in nutrients and antibodies). Without getting this in their first few hours, the lambs will die. It wasn’t long, maybe 10-15 minutes they had managed to get their heads under the ewe and find a teat. I could tell they had connected when their little tails wiggled excitedly. Mom turned from one side to the other nuzzling the babies, making soft grunting sounds as if to say good job. Occasionally she would look over at Rosie and I, stomping her front foot as if to warn Rosie to keep her distance.

Gradually, as we sat there, the storm moved off to the south. The lightning flashes continued but the thunder faded. The wind subsided and the rain gave way to an erie silence both inside and outside the barn. The air had a fresh spring like smell to it and stars began to appear as Rosie and I made our way back to the house. She settled into her pad on the porch as I made my way back into the house. It felt good to climb back into bed and drift back to sleep having witnessed firsthand a true sign of spring.

Morning came with the sun streaming through the east window into the living room. Coffee cup in hand, I looked out on the yard. The puddles, in spite of the heavy downpour, miraculously disappeared. I knew the frost was gone. SPRING HAD SPRUNG!

To be continued