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COUNTY AGENT GUY

By Staff | Mar 21, 2014

Congratulations. If you are reading this you have survived yet another brutal Midwestern winter.

Unless you went south and spent the past few months in the Sun Belt, in which case those of us who stayed behind say “Nerts to you.”

It has to be spring, doesn’t it? After all, the 50 million geese that have flown northward over our farmstead and carpet bombed our cars during the past few weeks can’t all be wrong.

But who knows? Spring can be a cruel mistress, enticing you to bask in the luxury of a warm, sunny day one minute, then slipping the steely stiletto of a frigid northwest wind between your ribs the next.

You young people may find this hard to fathom, but this past winter will eventually prove to be a great boon. Someday, when you’re a geezer – and yes, that day will come despite your belief that you will remain forever smooth-skinned and “hip” – you will be able to shake your bony finger at the callow whippersnappers and say, “Cold? You don’t know a thing about cold.

“Now, take the winters we had when I was a kid. It got so cold that…”

You get the idea. You are welcome.

The end of winter brings about many changes. For instance, we are beginning to feel that we no longer need to have such a close personal relationship with our jumper cables.

Although just to be safe, instead of stowing the jumper cables in a remote corner of the shop I have opted to repurpose mine as suspenders.

One of the surest signs of spring – other than robins using tiny pickaxes to dig worms from the frozen earth – is the sudden appearance of temporary greenhouses.

When spring comes, greenhouses seem to pop up overnight in nearly every available bare space such as parking areas, empty lots and atop of Donald Trump’s head.

They are the dandelions of the retail world.

When the weather at last turns truly fine, we who have endured the long months of Arctic conditions cannot resist the siren call of these transient tree peddlers.

We stop in “just to snoop” and are soon swooning over the snapdragons, gob smacked by the gerbera daisies.

Unable to stop ourselves, we pick up a fistful of potting soil and take a deep whiff. Oh, my. That earthy aroma is simply too wonderful. A handful of warm potting soil is like cocaine for those of us who live in northern climes.

We are helpless in the face of such decadence. Things quickly spiral out of control.

We roam the aisles of the greenhouse, the heady perfume of the flowers going to our heads.

Are those delphiniums? I’ve always wanted to try some of those. And aren’t those sugar maples? Let’s get a few.

Why, in a mere 20 years or so we could be making our own maple syrup.

And so we load up our vehicles with plant life and head for home, grinning like a groom on the morning after his wedding. And as we all know, this is the point where the real work begins.

Another way I can tell that spring is here regards the behavior of our chickens. We have five Wyandottes running around the place, a rooster and four hens.

The rooster doesn’t just think he’s hot stuff, he knows it. Being the only rooster in the flock means that nobody is going to challenge this notion. I certainly don’t plan on it.

With arrival of warmer weather, the chickens are leaving their coop and have begun to rove about the farmstead. As the hens peck and scratch, the rooster will randomly perform his mating dance, a quick little jog-in-place jig that he does for a second or two.

He also drops a wing for added panache.

Satisfied that he has proven himself the studliest rooster on the farm, he then tries to make a move on one of the hens. The hens, totally unimpressed, run from the rooster, foiling his plans for romance.

I can empathize with the rooster; his mating strategy closely resembles the one I used all the way through high school.

Frustrated by the total lack of interest on the part of the hens, the rooster will commence to crowing. I guess he thinks that if he can’t impress the girls with his ballet, perhaps he can wow them with his loud and frequent ballads.

This line of reasoning is responsible for the formation of innumerable rock bands.

So get out and enjoy our spring weather. Unless you just returned from Arizona, in which case may your geraniums freeze.

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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