Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What's New at the Farm? Spring Makes Early Appearance

This should be easy this week. It’s 64 degrees and sunny just outside my office window.

This is what the farm looked like on Monday this week.

Snow on the Retreat

The snowstorm we had 10 days ago is but a fleeting memory and perhaps now we can concentrate on spring. The pond is still covered with ice but if this weather continues it won’t be there for long.

Little signs of spring are around if you look for them. I saw a muskrat over the past weekend sitting on the edge of the ice. He was either eating some food or trimming his nails. I didn’t get close enough to tell. Little sprigs of green grass have sprung around the eastern end of the greenhouse and have already been picked by the geese. Eagles are everywhere now. I see them on my way to work in the morning. They are invading flooded streams and rivers, looking for winter-killed critters and ducks.
Some of the spring bulbs are pushing their way up now. I’ve seen some shoots pushing the mud and snow out of the way to reach the sunlight.

You have to admit, although it’s been a warm, strange winter, we’ll all be glad when it’s over. The fields look much like they did in November and I am anxious to see them plowed under. Plowing is one of my favorite jobs in the spring. Turning under all that surface residue from the past growing season and turning up fresh soil for the coming growing season – well, it’s just starting with a clean plate. And as I work down the field I watch as crop residue gets turned under to enrich the soil in the never ending nutrient cycling that happens year in year out.

While it’s tempting to get out on the ground now, with the warm temps, don’t rush it. I saw Monday this week, where a local farmer had attempted to spread manure and all he really accomplished was leaving some pretty nasty ruts in his hayfield. Too bad because it will be hard to erase these ruts without turning this into a bigger job than it needed to be.  Spring fever I guess.

Around the home place, the hens are laying furiously and the ducks, geese and turkeys are starting now as well. Here are a few additions to the home flock:
Baby Chicks, 10 days old
The guineas haven’t started laying yet, but I’ll be watching for them too, so I can get some incubating. And the peafowl too, I would expect them to start laying eggs once the weather warms up some more.  For now I’ll be happy setting another 41 chicken eggs in my incubator. 

While coming into work last weekend to check our greenhouse, I saw a young woman raking her lawn. Here’s one activity that can be done now without causing any damage to the ground. In fact it’s better early to get it done before the blackflies arrive. I guess I’m one of those odd people who like to rake. Raking up those dead leaves and sticks from the trees and getting the grass growing – that’s a sure sign of spring.  And working out in the sunshine on a 60 degree day in March – well, it doesn’t get much better than this.  And don’t forget the rake either: a steel leaf rake with a good wooden handle and a rubber grip; something I can out some pressure on to dig up the road sand and chunks of asphalt. 
At the farm, we’re wrapping up ordering supplies for the 2012 growing season. In the next few weeks we’ll start planting in the greenhouses and finalizing our plans for this season. Looks like a busy one again – fine by me. We’ve got lots of fields and crops to plant and take care of so it’ll be busy but an exciting kind of busy.

Until next week, I think I’ll go do some raking.

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