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Spring Farm Musings

8364_10151575311876145_1157698364_nOh my, was that two weeks before Easter incredible. Everything was warming up and drying out and the soil was getting to planting quality, but not perfect.  I spent all last weekend wishing I could get more peas planted (almost done), my strawberries planted (half done) and get some spuds in the ground (none done). This amount of rain will take 4 or 5 days to begin to dry out. Thankfully, it is still very early in the season and most of my crops will go “in” from the end of April through June. 

The frustrating thing about farming is you have to take what is given and make the best choice at that time. When the weather first “broke” a few weeks ago, I waited. Then it stayed nice and I was compelled, no…drawn, no…wooed, yes…“wooed” by the farm to come and begin the season. So, cautiously, I fired up the tractor and started working the ground. The ground was willing, but not ready to begin.  If our farm was a sandy soil it would have been perfect, but we are more of a clay loam. Clay loams are great for holding soil moisture into August, but not so great for “working” early.  Alas, rarely is anything perfect and the soil responded to produce an acceptable seedbed.

With the forecasted weather change coming, I planted.  I really wanted a few more days, but none were coming and now I know that none are coming for a while. The rub is that if it stays on a warming trend from mid-March through April, the farm will give up a lot of field moisture early that would normally carry us through dry summer months. It will also cause the grass to dry out sooner and affect our grazing rotations for the cattle. But, conversely, many crops love an early spring and if a farmer catches it right, you can have some amazing spinach, lettuce and pea crops.  

But I have learned to not trust March and only wade in; after all,the water is rarely warm in March.  So now I find myself wondering if my pea seeds will germinate, partially germinate or rot—time will tell. A little concerned about the strawberries and how they will fare. I am thankful that I didn’t plant my potatoes. But I am also happy that this past March’s nice warm weather won’t deplete my soil moisture for the cattle and late summer crops.

As a farmer, there is almost always a crop or season in which you can find a “silver lining.” You might have to look a little harder or change your attitude/ perspective, but every season has a blessing buried in it. And if you find yourself in such a season of instability or insecurity, take a deep breath, dig a little deeper and unbury that blessing –it will warm your heart and get you through that moment.