Monday, April 15, 2013

The Hungry Times

Looking at this picture, is it any wonder that some of the old timers called the period from late Winter through early Spring the HUNGRY times? The entire world seems devoid of life and color, tasty food is in short supply. 

It is not just the animals that feel this urge for fresh forage, human beings crave anything green this time of year ...which explains in part why dandelion salad, ramps and fiddleheads are much sought after Spring delights.

There is a point when it seems that Winter may never end.  The animals eat hay and grain in copious amounts in an attempt to maintain body condition throughout the cold, dismal season. If folks are eating seasonally, the larder is nearly depleted, although root crops and canned goods should still be in good supply. But, somehow, they just don’t satisfy after some point. We are all craving something fresh and green.

The first signs of Spring are but subtle teases…the change of light, the faint scent of freshly turned earth and a hint of green grass. You know the seasonal change is coming...surely...but, then another round of winter weather arrives.  This cycle seemed nearly endless this season.

The sheep seem desperate for even a small nibble of the sweet, delicate grass. Fences become meaningless...the call of the sweet green blades beckons. We understand this feeling of urgency for greens, we once drove over the mountain to C’ville just to get fresh, organic salad makings. 

The only answer for the animals is to finally allow them to graze freely once more. 

The first day that the sheep go out on grass is a much anticipated but fairly anti-climactic event. 

Finally after the fence is checked and any damage from the winter is repaired, the gate is opened and the sheep head for the “Promised Land”. 
 Most times, they just put their heads down at that first green blade of grass and begin eating.  They graze non-stop until they can graze no more.  While the lambs dance and play and cry for their mothers, the ewes are just steadily munching their way across the paddock…first one way and then the other.

Once that craving for fresh green grass is somewhat satisfied, they settle under the pines, where they snooze and ruminate until they feel the urge to graze again.

To satisfy our own cravings for greens, we need only take a bowl to the hoophouse…no more trips over the mountain for us.

We have reached the END of the "hungry times".

                 Ah…life is good!   

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