Saturday, April 4, 2015

Winter to Spring

One of the best parts of living on a farm is being exquistely immersed in the changing seasons.  When I lived in the city, I never paid much attention to the outdoors especially in cold wet weather except when a weekend outing would take me to the woods.  During the week if it were rainy or cold, the outdoors was a place to dash through from my car to the classroom or from work to the car and then back into the house.  But now here on the farm, I am outside much more often.  Even though in the coldest months the chickens live in the shelter of the barn, I am still outside carrying water and feed between buildings and hauling manure to the compost pile as needed.  Being outdoors every single day I get to see the seasons change day by day.  At times the changes are nearly imperceptible, but then there is March. This year it seems as though winter does not want to leave but as the days get longer and longer, there is no choice in the matter.  Winter ends as spring arrives.  Because each year is just a little different than the last, I thought I would go through  this year's transition.  We are probably a good week behind last year and several weeks behind 2012 the year of the early spring and summer drought.  

So here goes the chronicle of winter to spring 2015:

Looking back through my pictures, I must have sensed a change was coming because on March 8th I took a picture of Peters Creek from the vantage of the culvert that runs underneath the tractor road that goes to the field.  A thin strip of open water can be seen where there once was only snow.  At this point we still had about 2 feet of snow on the ground.

On March 9th, the sun was shining and a small bit of grass started showing on the path I walked every day from the driveway to the barns.  

The opening to Peters Creek was a little wider.

By March 11th, the sun was working as hard as it could against the reflective powers of the snow.  Peters Creek opens up a bit more.  On March 12th, the redwing blackbirds returned to the farm.

Three days later on March 14th, the snow melt was happening more quickly now.  We were fortunate to have no torrential rain to add to the snow melt.  The snow melt was enough to make Peters Creek spill out of its banks and flood the bottom land.  Although this picture is taken from the exact same spot as all the others, it almost doesn't look like the same creek.

Also on March 14th, there were large enough patches of grass showing up in the yard that the chickens actually wanted to venture out of the barn.  They spent a little over 2 months straight locked up in the barn this winter thanks to a persistent ground cover of snow up over their heads.

By March 21st, the farm pond was still frozen solid, but I found the first evidence that groundhogs were waking up from their winter slumber underground. The wild turkeys started to leave their wintering grounds across the road and showed up on the farm.  Right on cue, the turkey vultures returned on March 22nd.  Although they did not stop this year, I heard the swans pass by after dark on March 22nd.

On March 29th I heard the first woodcock singing its "peent" call in the pasture and on March 30th, the farm pond, although still covered in ice, had a rim of open water along its edge.  Last year the pond was completely ice free on this date.

On April 1st, the wild honey bee hives that live in the old chicken coop became active.  It was nice to know that both hives survived the winter.  Official "ice out" of the farm pond came on April 2nd.  That same day I heard the chorus frogs for the first time and on April 3rd they were joined by spring peepers.

The extreme cold of this past winter has made me hoping for an early spring but nature as always doesn't care what I want.  Even so, try as it might, winter cannot hold us in her grip forever.  The transition is underway.

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