When we were kids, our dad would always mark the arrival of spring with one of his typically silly sayings. It went like this:
“Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the flowers is!”
While it is only mid-March and anything can happen, weather-wise, between now and summer (e.g. blizzard, ice storm, mud slide, swarm of locusts, etc.), the signs of spring are everywhere you look.
It is times like this that we realize what a gift it is to live on a small farm where nature offers up a bounty of edibles that is ours for the taking.
The chickens are laying prolifically and, from time to time, even in places where we are able to find the eggs! After a long winter of feeling like we were feeding chickens only so that they could poop with reckless abandon on every outdoor thing we own, finally getting some eggs seemed like a real boon.
The sap flowed generously from the sugar maples and has been boiled down into lovely syrup.
Even though we missed an entire week of sap collection, we still felt like the trees were giving it their all and making sure we’d have syrup all through the year.
We don’t have enough trees to justify a tubing system, but tapping six or seven trees each year seems to provide us with what we use as a family, which is pretty cool.
Even considering the budding of the fruit trees, the pushing through of the garlic and flower bulbs, and everything else spring has to offer, the best part, without question, is the moment I know for certain that all my bee hives have survived the winter.
Several times throughout the winter, I’ll go up to the hives and press my ear up against the side to listen for the audible vibration of the hive body. Sometimes it is loud and clear, other times I am sure there is no sound and the hive must have died. It is difficult to wait for a warm and sunny day to open the hive just a little to have a look and see what’s what.
The best possible sign, however, is activity around the front of the hive.
Spring is a dangerous time for bees, though. The weather begins to warm, but there are no flowers in bloom and food is scarce. This is the perfect time to supplement their food supply with bee patties, but we’ve also noticed that the bees thoroughly enjoy the dust that sifts out of chicken feed and cracked corn.
The chickens wisely avoid their feeder when it is swarming.
It has been a tough winter and spring for our garlic which, although sprouting, looks about as bedraggled as I’ve ever seen a garlic crop look.
We will keep our fingers crossed that the upcoming warm and sunny days will correct the damage done by the one-two punches of cold-hot, cold-hot, cold-hot…
It is a busy time for us now–seed planting will be happening soon, the garden needs tilling and the soil needs amending. Before we know it, the chickens will go broody and we’ll start seeing new chicks hatching all over again. It is a time of renewal and of hope.