Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Difference a Year Makes

Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY, is talking about the weather. 

That in itself isn’t all that unusual.  Part of the greeting in the country tends to be “hot (cold) enough for ya?”  Everyone has an opinion on the moisture situation.  When anything seems the least bit abnormal, the old-timers start telling dire stories of yester-year. I must admit, I do that myself.

But, this year the winter has seemed interminable.  It isn’t often that we have big snows in March, let alone THREE of epic proportion.  Everyone is more than a little weary of the white stuff, of the cold, of the dark and dreary days.

I began to wonder WHY everyone (including me) was struggling so. Winter is always long and dark and cold.  So what’s the big deal? 

Then I remembered.  Last year was unusually, unseasonably, and blissfully warm in March.  The trees and flowers burst forth into blossom.  The grass was green and lush, making the animals (and the farmers) very happy. Early grass means less feed and hay and a smaller feed bill.

ice crystals on the potato plants
Although the warmth felt wonderful, it was very short-lived. Much too soon there was a rude return to early Spring in the Valley…everything was frozen solid.  That spelled the end for our fruit crop, stunted the growth on
Potatoes are tropical plants and don't handle cold well at all!

the early potatoes and we lost a fair amount of asparagus as well.  A second cold snap in April meant that the onions and brassicas didn’t do as well as we had planned. A lot of our early season work had to be repeated.

That will not be the case this year.
In March of 2013, the only crop growing outside is the garlic.  It’s been growing since October, and although it looks good…it is nothing like last year. The rest of the area used for gardening looks like an arctic wasteland.  In addition to waiting for the snow to melt and the garden plots to dry, we are facing some repair work as well.  The weight of the snow caused the trees branches out back to break and took down fencelines as well.  At present, Waylon is roaming the garden area. Believe me, we don't need 300 pounds of ram "helping" in the garden.  Fence repair will take priority over potato planting.

I knew that last year’s warmth was unusual, but wondered if we had ever seen snow this late.  A little scrounging in my photo files revealed that this is NOT unheard of…no indeed.  (there are some definite benefits to being a bit of a hoarder) We’ve had snow this late before…check this out.  March 2006.
But, a week later things were green and warm.  Look…grazing sheep! (wow, that’s when we had the llama…I’ll have to tell that tale someday)

A few weeks later and things were incredibly lush and green.

There is a cycle you can count on from year to year, but the exact timing is never the same twice.  We’ve done this long enough to know you can’t get too anxious…and our plans are always subject to change because of the weather.

Last year was wonderful in some ways and awful in others.  This year will be great in its own way…we just have to wait and see what that will be.

In the meantime, I’m trying to follow Jed’s lead and RELAX...

...or just make the most of it like the lambs.


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