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Signs of Spring Are Everywhere Despite Old Man Winter

| 4/1/2010 3:28:23 PM

A portrait of the author, Colleen Newquist.The wind is sailing hard across the landscape, pushing dead leaves in great angry gusts. It’s Old Man Winter at work, vainly trying to erase all signs of Spring, who’s been nudging him on his way this past week. 

He never goes easily – not without those last snow squalls and a few spiteful freezes that knock buds from trees and leave daffodils in distress for daring to show their sunny faces before he is good and ready to leave. Such a bully. Today I say, go ahead, Old Man, have your tantrum. Spring has already been hanging around here for several days, and we sure have enjoyed her company. You, Mr. Winter, are history.

The proof is everywhere: The pointed tips of our few daylily plants are stubbornly pushing their way through the mud and mulch near the front door. A welcome sign, even though they’ll eventually be chewed to stubs by deer. In the darkness just before dawn, birds are busily singing, flitting from tree to tree in a flurry of activity. Today, the quiet Sunday morning was broken by the repeated howling of a coyote, followed by the frenzied yipping and growling of an entire pack. Perhaps he or she had cornered one of the young deer I’ve been seeing around and was calling the family to come and eat. 

Later, slipping and sliding up and down the muddy hills of the Thorn Creek Nature Preserve that borders our yard, in a futile attempt to keep up with my dog, I came upon the remains of an earlier dinner – a skull licked clean, a couple of deer hooves, a ribcage and spine, and lots and lots of deer fur. No intact hide, just loose fur spread out like a blanket of pine needles. Charley the dog found that all very fascinating. So did I. Unlike my own kitchen, nothing goes to waste in the wild. I wondered if the eyeballs were a particular delicacy. 

While I was walking in the woods, my cell phone rang. (I know--it’s Walk in the Wild Lite: all the trees and hills give the illusion of being removed from reality, but in actuality, I could order a pizza at any time. And be back at my door before it’s delivered.) It was my sister calling, telling me that friends of ours who are relatively new to farm life were planning to shear sheep today. Woo hoo! I hiked back home, managing to stay upright in all the mud, and headed out to their house, 10 miles from my own, close the Illinois-Indiana state line. 

How “almost country” I live is really evident when I head up the winding driveway of Three Fates Farm and hear a rooster crowing and see the Jacob sheep out in the pasture.

Mountain Woman
4/2/2010 5:55:32 AM

Oh Colleen, I loved your pictures and I'm envious you might get to shear sheep and see the newborns. I'd LOVE to have sheep and goats but Mountain Man says no at the moment. They just are lovely. Spring is kind of here as we entered a warm spell but winter has been hanging on. It's a difficult time of year for me because I become so impatient for warmer weather. Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful walk. Mountain Woman

Nebraska Dave
4/1/2010 10:11:45 PM

Colleen, I do love Spring time on the farm. There is so much new life happening in plants and animals during the Spring. Even the mud seems to be a refreshing change from the cold and dreary Winter months. I’ve have enjoyed the Spring this year more than usual. The last couple days have been teasers for sure. 80 degree weather is not uncommon in April in Nebraska but as you say Old Man Winter is not done yet and will most likely give us one more blast of snow before the Spring rains and questionable weather patterns begin. Living on the edge of tornado alley can be exciting during the Spring time months. I do look forward to the clean fresh earthy smell after a good Spring rain. I am indeed chomping at the bit to start planting the garden but I’ll just have to be satisfied with a few potatoes and maybe a patch of onions for now. Thanks for sharing your Spring time experiences.

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