2.20.2016 The Spell is Broken

After a frigid week, winter threw another tantrum. Monday brought snow, sleet and freezing rain. Not exactly duck weather. I didn’t even bother letting ducks and chickens out. I put blankets on Ophelia and Sadie before turning them out. Cookie and Pony, who have thicker coats and are used to the foul weather of Blacksburg, went out naked. And that’s when things got interesting.

Sadie, so proud of her pretty green coat, started wagging her head and prancing about Cookie and Pony. She was just so certain her emerald green robe entitled her to some respect from the rest of her herd. Cookie didn’t even bother giving her the stink eye. She just put her head down and started searching for something to eat. The grass in the winter pasture is nearly gone and the person in charge of doling out hay rations is sooooo parsimonious. Cookie is always starving to hear her tell. Ophelia too. Liars, the both of them.

So Sadie focused her imperial presence on Pony. Head wags. Tail lifted with pride. Prancing in that awkward way only a gaited horse can prance. Pony? Pony had a roll in the snow. “Only sissies wear coats.”

Sadie tries so hard, bless her heart, and remains pond scum.

A little later in the morning, the crow mafia stopped by the duck house to snag a little to extort a little breakfast. Happens nearly every day. Crows clean up what the ducks leave behind. It’s protection money. I leave them some yummies and they harass the hawks. But the ducks were still in residence and not happy about it either. There was a long conversation between the ducks and the crows. Pretty sure the crows were trying to sell a magic feather to the ducks.

The crows didn’t get their protection money until the next morning. The ducks never got their magic feather. Instead they got duck weather.

As soon as I stepped outside Tuesday morning, I felt it. The cold was losing its grip. Frozen precipitation had gone over to rain. Winds were coming up out of the south and fog oozed over the icy ground. Where I had walked the day the before, the rain had already washed away my footprints and bare grass shone through to mark my path. The snow remaining on the ground was all slush. And just to make sure everyone could read the signs clearly, the horses started blowing out their coats and a flock of robins stopped by and set all the crows and the resident mockingbird in a tizzy.

In the chill Tuesday mist, I was transported back to my childhood and the Chronicles of Narnia.  I read those books to tatters.  This magical morning was just like the chapter in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, where the snow turns to slush, the streams babble wildly, the fir trees shake off their snowy blankets, birds chitter with excitement and the White Witch have to go on foot because her sleigh is bogged down in the mud. Her power is broken. Winter is over.

Sadie did not get the memo. She really didn’t want to leave the barn without her pretty green coat, because, you know, there was still snow on the ground and thus a chance she could convince Pony that a Sadie in a green coat was more worthy of respect than a Pony with no coat at all.

Odds and Ends

The bees gave me a scare. There were a lot of dead bees on the doorstep of one hive and I thought perhaps, I’d lost a hive to the bitter cold. However, today, it finally warmed up and both hives were out in force. Late February, and I still have two hives. Amazing!

I broke down and called the plumbers to fix the hydrant down at the barn. It’s been leaking for some time and has defied all our attempts at repair. According to the pros the reason for that is it was irreparable. So it got replaced. The hose bib at the back of the house got unclogged – a new one for the plumbers. And they assured me the moisture underneath the house was just creep from the surrounding soil and nothing was leaking under the house.

My 2016 farm accounting books are up to date, but I still have some columns to total in the 2015 books. That’s on the list this coming week, along with the pruning of the apples, pears and grapes.

The last of the winter lettuce came out of the hoophouse this week. I’ll be replanting with something other than lettuce, hoping to break the cycle of aphids. I have some spinach and onion starts ready to go. Lettuce starts and fava beans will go somewhere else. I just haven’t decided where yet. February is nearly over and I’ve not yet done a grow plan. Fail to plan; plan to fail. That’s what they say. They also say no plan survives first contact with the enemy. What do they know, anyway?


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