Itchy for Spring

Farm Diary

Friday, February 11, 2011

Thank God for seasonable weather. We have taken the body blow of a (Feb. 2?) blizzard with two feet of snow, drifts with four to six feet of the stuff, and then a five-day blast of arctic sub-zero weather.

We have taken a winter that has offered up a record of the number of days without getting above freezing.

But today it will begin to release its grip on us. The temperature is to climb to 26 today, to near freezing tomorrow and possibly as high as 46 next Thursday.

This morning it was as it has been this past week. Long underwear, lined jeans, wool socks and shirt, parka, ski mask and ski boots and cross-country for a mile with the dogs while Connie fed the sheep. The sheep do more than the normal bonking of heads and the dogs do more than their share of nipping at each other. In fact, the Border Collies romp about in the deep snow (doing their business and eating yesterday’s business in between romps) until that last quarter mile, up the north slope. The snow is belly deep for them along there—even the compaction of the snow isn’t complete and they still, in places sink that deep—and so they begin to tire and walk rather than run. They get into the ski tracks I laid before and plod just a little ahead of me, stopping for petting more often, till finally we reach the barn and the plowed lane.

We have been more faithful at feeding the birds too, and during the day there are always about 20 to 30 of them at the feeders: house finch, junco, chickadee, cardinals (3 nesting pairs), blue jays (2 or 3 nesting pairs), red bellied woodpecker (one, a very big guy), downy woodpecker, mourning dove, occasional drove of starling.

A mystery bird is also out there. I saw it last April and I’ve spotted it around lately. I can’t identify it but would appreciate help. It is the size of a larger hawk, with white wings and possibly a gray body. The wings appear a bit straighter and narrower than a true hawk’s. It flies solo and seems to be hunting for birds or perhaps rodents. It doesn’t seem to fit the description of any known birds in my books.

We are starting the ewes on grain. They are due to start lambing March 21.


About John

John is a retired pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who has served congregations for over 40 years, including in rural, suburban, campus ministry and urban settings. His love of Border Collie sheepdogs has been fortified by his many friendships with shepherds all around the world. Nothing he has ever or will ever accomplish is as significant as the patience God, his wife and his friends have shown in putting up with his deficiencies.
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