My Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Reader Contribution by Keba M Hitzeman
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I appreciate living in an area that has all four seasons, five if you count “mud” as a season! I know that I will have months of sunshine and rain, making the green grass for the beasties to eat, and there will be enough of that grass for me to fill the barn with hay for those months of cold and (usually) snow. It may get stinkin’ hot and humid for four months or so, but there are trees and shelters for shade, with plenty of water to keep the troughs full. It’s comforting to know that the overall cycle will continue even when the details change.

However, I’m not above saying that I have favorites. Autumn tops the list, followed by Spring, then Winter, and Summer at the rear of the pack. Mud season comes in even “laster” than Summer. I should have something nice to say about Mud Season, but I’ll need to think on that one for a bit!

Summer has the most glaring negatives for me – heat, humidity, and biting insects being the big three. On the plus side, Summer also means fresh garden vegetables, baseball, filling the barn with hay, all the animals out on pastures and growing like the weeds in my garden, and our “farmer vacation” at the fair. It’s not a go-stay-somewhere vacation, but during fair week, we do the morning chores, head to the fair for a few hours, come home to take a nap, do the evening chores, and usually head back to the fair for the evening. And that’s as close to a vacation as it gets around here, although we will be missing the fair this year. And did I mention baseball?!

Winter is surprisingly more tolerable for me, due to the lack of humidity. Of course, the brutal cold temperatures we sometimes get make working outside nearly impossible, but (hopefully) all of the major outdoor projects have already been finished. If not, well, it can usually wait. The beasties are snug in their barns with as much hay as they can eat, and we can work on the indoor projects that took a back seat when the weather was warm. Plus, it gets dark around 3pm (ok, maybe a bit later than that!), so there’s not much daylight to work outside even when it’s a nicer day. It’s a good time to plan.

Spring arrives, the weather warms, and the grass starts growing. I’m tired of working inside and want to get out of the house to do everything, even when it’s too early! The garden beckons, but the ground is too cold to plant anything. The lambs will be here soon, and I hope “soon” means after the last frost date. They don’t pay much attention to when I would like them born, though! I want to get everything done before dear Summer arrives, but pacing is important. Our springs have been very short recently, so there’s not much time between “too cold” and “too hot.” We also tend to have flooding in late Winter/early Spring – not a fan!

I have thought of some things to say about Mud Season, not sure how “nice” they are, though. First, it keeps me focused. When you are slogging through any amount of mud to get from Point A to Point B (especially the boot-sucking-off mud in February after a week of above-freezing temperatures), it takes focus and concentration to keep your feet under you. Especially if you’re on uneven ground or carrying something. Movements are slower, more methodical, more deliberate. I’ve been distracted while plodding through mud and ended up flat on my back. Which leads to another thing about Mud Season – it keeps me humble. I can walk over the same stretch of muddy ground five times with no problems, and I’m looking at the sky on the sixth time. Sometimes I think the mud can sense an uptick in my ego!

Autumn is the high point, my most wonderful time of the year. And not for the pumpkin spice that appears where you least expect it! Less humidity and cooler temperatures increase my outdoor productivity in a last burst of energy before Winter. If the weather is right, we’ll get a beautiful show of the trees in their reds, golds, and browns. I love the calm that this season gives, easing everyone into the coming cold. It’s getting dark earlier, baseball is wrapping up, projects are moving inside. Finish prepping the barn for the sheep and goats, roll up the water hoses, install tank heaters for the water troughs. I wouldn’t say work comes to an end as the temperatures drop, but there is a noticeable slowing down or at least a shift in mindset from doing to planning. After the frenzy of Spring and Summer, that shift is most welcome.

What is your favorite season? What draws you to that time over any other time of the year?

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