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The Cusp of Spring

Happy Monday, dear reader. The sun is shining. The birds are singing, and the temperatures are way above average here in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Spring is well on its way; some may say it has arrived early. Perhaps that weather-predicting rodent from the neighboring town knows something after all. Here at the farm, several harbingers of spring announce its arrival. These signs I look for each year tell me without a doubt or a forecast from a groundhog that spring has indeed arrived. I look forward to seeing these signs every year, and it has become somewhat of a custom to spot them and report them with glee.

First and foremost, the robins return. Each and every year, I look for my favorite feathered friends in the fields and trees. This year, I have spotted not only one robin but a whole flock; not just a small one but a very large one. This year, I saw a flock of thirty to forty robins flitting about in the backfield adjoining my walking path. These lovely little red-breasted songbirds were as happy as could be to be hunting worms, flitting about, and singing their little hearts out for me to enjoy. To say I was thrilled is an understatement. I don't recollect seeing such a large flock of robins this early on the farm.

Secondly, my Canadian goose friends return. Each year, a pair of Canadian geese return to the farm to build a nest and hatch their goslings. Not only do the original pair return, but their offspring return with their mates as well. I greatly look forward to seeing my wild friends and having them spend the spring and summer with us. It's always exciting to see how many little goslings they will hatch and watch them grow. There is quite a large number of returning geese at this point. I have always loved watching them fly in and splash onto the pond with ease and grace. Way back when I was in college, I bought three wooden flying geese to hang on our barn. To this day, these three wooden symbols of the birds I love hang on the front of the barn. My love for Canadian geese is lifelong.

The third sign I look for is the singing of the peeper frogs from the pond. The sound of spring peepers is in my top five favorite sounds. Their chirps and songs are almost deafening some nights. I love to open the bedroom windows and listen to them as I drift off to sleep. They say when the peepers sing three nights in a row, spring has arrived. I have not heard them for three consistent nights, but I am certain it will be soon. When my dad was alive, we would sit on the porch in the evenings and talk. I always felt bad that my dad could no longer hear the peepers in the evenings due to hearing loss from running large equipment. How sad not to be able to enjoy such a lovely song from nature.

Along with those three monumental signs of spring, there are also other lovely signs to look for, such as the arrival of baby goats. To date, little Agnes, or Aggie as we call her, is the only baby to make her appearance. Cindy Crawford is a loving and attentive mom to baby Aggie. With only one kid to nurse, we must bring Cindy onto the milk stand once daily to milk out her left side. Little Aggie prefers Cindy's right teat; the left is always full of milk. Cindy is a bit neurotic about being separated from Aggie, so we put little Aggie on the stand with her. Aggie is the friendliest little girl and an absolute delight to spend time with. She is growing strong quickly with the overabundance of her mama's milk. Aggie is beginning to bounce, loves to play chase with Jordan, and comes running when she sees us. It is somewhat unusual for a little one to be so bold and friendly without being a bottle baby. I believe little Aggie will be a lovely addition to the herd.

Another sign of spring's arrival is that I have de-winterized my chicken coop. All the insulating bails of straw have been removed. The watering trough has been moved outside, and the laying boxes are cleaned and lined with fresh pine chips for when the girls begin laying eggs again. Right now, I am getting three to four eggs a day. Chickens need at least sixteen hours of sunlight to regulate their laying cycle. I don't expect many eggs to return with my hens aging out. However, I am beginning to formulate my list of baby chicks that will be delivered in April. This will replenish the flock and take some pressure to produce off my older girls. These girls have served me well, and I will give them a gentle retirement to enjoy their golden years. I greatly look forward to introducing new breeds and colors to the flock.

All of these signs of spring are welcomed with open arms. I do indeed detest winter and cold temperatures. However, we have had a relatively mild winter, with all things considered. Alas, after the first snowfall, a white Christmas, and a cozy winter storm to keep us all home and safe, I am ready to bid farewell to winter and all that goes with it. Bring on spring with its beautiful songbirds, lovely creatures awakening and singing in the new season, new life, sunshine, and happiness. I hope the sunshine makes you smile. On this cusp of spring, stay safe, be smart, enjoy the changing of the seasons, and keep washing your hands.

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Mar 04

We must be kindred spirits. I'm a "spring" woman also and everything you blogged about are the same things that bring a smile to my face and thrills my soul. I must have inherited from my dad. He always loved spring and always had to rake the leaves away to show me daffodils starting to pop up. I miss that smile of his! Happy Spring !

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