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By Staff | Feb 20, 2009

I am happy to report that the very early signs of spring are here. Barney, the neighbor’s tomcat, was here for a few days and I have been informed by the neighbors he has returned home.

The prevailing north wind carried scents only appreciated by a tomcat to his home a quarter mile across the field. All he had to do was follow his nose northward where Fluffy, the matriarch of our cats, along with about three other females were waiting for him.

I was told by the neighbors, now that he has returned, he will receive a combing, resume his place in the entry way of their home and pick up his daily routine of overseeing the farm chores performed by the family members.

Perhaps a banner saying, “Mission accomplished” would be appropriate, but since Barney does not read, probably is not necessary. See you next spring, Barney.

The plow that was parked by the machine shed to receive new plowshares is still there with the new plowshares on the ground next to the plow re-appearing more each day as the snow melts. It reminds us of the late fall that was followed by a sudden winter that kept us from finishing everything.

We got the harvest done in spite of several bouts of wet weather and some fieldwork completed in preparation for next spring, but the plow never made it out of the farmyard. The unfinished job of new shares will be finished and then the plow with new shares ready for next fall will go back to where it has been parked.

The ice ponds that decorate the low spots of every field let us know a lot of snow has melted even though the shaded areas north of groves and buildings and the snow drifts in the ditches remain deep with snow.

Black fields, along with my bare sidewalk and driveway, have returned and while they may receive another covering of snow once or twice more, that covering will not last long because of the sun’s increasing strength and longer days. Every time I look at them, I breathe a sigh of relief.

Last weekend, a walk in a frozen field on a day with below-freezing temperatures still gave me muddy shoes, because the sun was thawing the black soil. Getting muddy shoes with a temperature of 27 degrees means something is happening and I am sure it is good.

The day after tomorrow we are meeting with the fertilizer dealer to hear his plans for our fields. In about 60 days, he will be carrying out those plans along with the plans made with all my neighbors. Then the rush will be on. From mid-April to mid-May, we will be doing what we did not get done last fall, plus everything we need to get done this spring.

Fields will be prepared, fertilizer will be spread, seeds will be planted, and lots of diesel fuel will be consumed. It will be quite a time as we repeat our annual spring ritual.

Barney the tomcat has his annual ritual and we have ours. We want to enjoy that same sense of accomplishment that Barney is enjoying as he has already planted his seed.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net

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