Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Before the Heat: Late Winter Chores

Seventy degrees outside. Yep. Today. Convertible top down on my car, I ride into town when I should be skipping school to do some farm work.

In our part of the country, especially as the climate continues to change for the warmer, Spring comes earlier. That means what follows--the hellish heat and humidity of the Mid-Atlantic states--hits sometimes in early June and does not let up until September. People who do not work outside praise the warmth. I dread what it means.

That means I have a LOT to do in February and March. I find myself trimming trees, cutting back vines, cutting down trees, chopping wood for the next winter.  On warmer days I paint things, as long as rain is not about to fall.

Soon the weeds will sprout and last year they choked out some of our kitchen garden, even imperiled our cash crop of Thai Dragon Peppers.  This year I'm going to ready our raised beds early; some are already done. I surface-tilled, weeded, and amended the soil in December, covered it with the thickest weed-block fabric that A.M. Leonard sells, then topped that with a bit of straw for both aesthetics and UV protection. We built new arches for our eagle netting, and the chickens' run has one new gate and another on the way.

Imagine doing all that in July!  My next gig will be to disassemble and repaint our 1952 Ford 8N tractor, a stalwart from our land in Buckingham County that is going into semi-retirement with us, coming out every few weeks to run a bush-hog. Our big Allis Chalmers will take its place on the remote property.

Summer is great in the early morning, dew and all. After 10am, however, I'm done until dusk most days, though when the sun hits the treeline I often get on the tractor to mow for an hour or so. At this time of year, as little as I like the freakishly warm water and what it portends for the next generations, I get out there and work all day long.

Good luck planting and growing this season. It's been a bitter fall for our nation, but there will be change and progress, whatever setbacks we encounter on the way.

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