We’ve had days of unyielding gray skies and temperatures hovering right around the freezing point with little or no change in heat or light quality throughout the course of the day. The weatherman has been sorely wrong with his forecasts to boot, dangling the carrot of sunshine in front of our hungry faces, but withholding even the scent of the prize. I’ve been teetering right on the edge of losing my composure several times recently. I just can’t help it. I feel like a groggy old bear stumbling out of hibernation, a little testy and hungry for something fresh to eat. Last week’s spring tease was just too fresh in my mind, leaving me longing for what wasn’t there: sunshine and warmth.
My living room is filled with baby plants. There’s a giant stack of trays right beside the woodstove for germination, making travel into the kitchen a bit of a Houdini act. Pepper and tomato plants are strung out on the coffee table and bookshelf, craning their little necks toward the windows and the sorry amount of light filtering in. Then there’s the added bonus of children wanting to play toss-the-ball over the trays of plants… one missed catch could easily decapitate a pepper plant. (Did I mention mama bear was feeling a tad testy?) Our unheated greenhouse just wasn’t doing the trick keeping the plants warm so the house was the best option. However, we very nearly yanked the woodstove out of the workshop in the barn for temporary relocation in the greenhouse just to get us through until the sun shone. Normally in mid-March, this is not an issue at all. Normally, the greenhouse is roasty-toasty and needs the plastic flap doors rolled up for ventilation. Just a tiny blast of sunshine heats the small space up quickly, and the thermal mass of the black-painted water barrels holds the warmth quite well. This year those barrels haven’t even had the chance to warm up yet. This year is different.
Regardless of the slow transition from winter to spring this year, the seasons will shift nonetheless. Spring will come. And since our livelihood depends on it, I sure as shootin’ hope it comes! Anyhow, we have to roll along despite our occasional desire to stay holed up in the house with a warm cup of tea in hand. Here, the kiddos help Papa pot-up sweet and hot peppers into bigger soil blocks. (Yes, yes… the sun is shining in several of these recent pictures. You’re gonna think I’m just being dramatic with my stories! I’m pretty sure those moments of sunshine were fleeting, though! Always clearing at the end of the day to insure a colder night, and to let the big full moon shine in the window, heightening my testiness with a touch of lunacy!) The chickens spent the winter parked on deep straw litter in part of our fenced garden. A gut instinct last fall hinted that this winter might be a good one for keeping them parked (their coops are really hard to move when they are frozen to the ground!) instead of keeping them on the pasture rotation. Good thing for instincts! Well, this week they got moved back out on pasture and re-incorporated in the livestock rotation. Now the ladies can really get to work laying eggs and sanitizing the pasture. Can you see Ira up on the hill, shepherding the wool sheep through the forest? We are all desperate for a bite of something green. As always, children have the adaptive sense to embrace any given moment and enjoy it. Mama bear needs to take a lesson.This afternoon, that blanket of gray sky cracked open giving us another tempting taste of spring sunshine. The weatherman says tomorrow in Bugtussle will be mostly cloudy. Oh, how I do hope he’s wrong again!