The Urgency of Spring

Having bided their time as those persistent daggers stabbing their way through last fall’s leaf litter, the daffodils have officially arrived. Those by the red gate, anyway. I don’t seem to see the flower as I once did. Now it is a small, yellow megaphone, flanked by some overly exclamatory petals, shouting, “Hey! Look at me! You best get plowing, tilling, mulching, planting, assauging the IRS, etc.” So I do.

I am not writing to diminish the beauty of the first flowers of spring, but rather to give a spring forecast for the farm. This rather unexpected bout of hot, yes, genuinely hot, weather has dried the ground out well beyond the moisture content I need to get the plow going. This week, the ground for vegetables, potatoes, wheat and strawberries will be plowed (6.5 acres total), and if the weather holds and the tractor goes, I’ll turn under about thirteen acres for corn. What will become the cornfield has been the winter pasture for feeding cattle, so there is plenty of organic matter, but the field hasn’t been plowed for ten or twelve years so it’ll be a little slow going. Once the plowed ground sits for a week or two, depending on residue from last year’s crop, I’ll go through with a soil finisher to break up the ankle-breaking clods of dirt into a fine seedbed ready for planting. Once I move the pigs down to their summer pasture, I can prepare the ground for oats underseeded to alfalfa (I harvest the oats by the time the alfalfa is just getting established and growing). Soybeans and barley will finish out the field crops. May 10th is generally our frost-free date here, but I am guessing that that may be a bit late this year. I’ll get some veggies out early and if need be, I can cover them with Remay for frost protection. Somewhat more subtlely than the daffodils, I’ve got about six thousand onions hankering to get in the ground.

The high tunnel is coming along. I’ll let folks know on Wednesday when plastic is going up- a job that many hands makes light work of. We need a day with no wind, even a small gust could send the folks holding down the corners airborne. I didn’t report the latest baby on the farm. Casper, a little bull calf, was born to Cheyenne on the first. Cheyenne hasn’t been picking up on the milking routine, which means she won’t go to the barn herself so I have to carry Casper in and then she’ll follow. She’s too darn big and stubborn for me to lead her in by herself. She’ll come around though. On Thursday, we’ll have two hundred more babies on the farm- little chicks arrive. One day old and at the post office, pretty impressive.

As the sun stays up longer, so do I. Thank goodness we got that coffee last week. Keep spreading the good word to folks who like eating as we prepare for the kickoff of the annual share in May. Some details are up in the Whole Diet CSA tab.

Walking to the barn at night, the flashlight is more to send the nightcrawlers slurping back into the earth than it is to show me that well worn path. Most of them escape death by boot, but I’m sure a few among the thousands perish in my footsteps. Always a good sign to see so many on the farm, those little fertility factories. Also noteworthy were the bats last night and the first toad of spring exploring the dairy barn tonight. On a completely unrelated note (I am not Johnny Verbeck), let me know if you have any charcuterie/sausage requests for May.

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