The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Winter Slips Away

April 4th, 2014 · 1 Comment · Posted in farming


With each passing day the snow melts away, revealing a landscape I thought had been lost to last year’s memories. For me, the sensation of winter giving in to spring is a physical one–my body literally un-tenses with a sense of relief. No more sub-zero mornings in the dark. No more frozen water lines. No more trudging through snow and ice to feed the livestock.

Rivulets of water course everywhere on our hillside farmlet. Here and there the water gathers in crystal-clear pools. And what do I see at the bottom of these shallow ponds that dot the landscape? Green. Yes, green shoots yearning to become grass. What was completely hidden beneath the snow soon will grow into pasture. Spring at this moment truly seems like a miracle. In fact, there was life beneath our frozen landscape waiting for just the right moment to bust free.

The livestock also sense a new day coming. This week I opened the gate and turned them out of the permanent paddock where they’ve been confined since December into an adjacent pasture bounded on two sides by 300-foot lengths of temporary electrical wiring. The field still looks barren, last year’s grass lying brown and flat against the ground. But soon enough the sheep, the cow, the goat all wander away from the fresh bale of hay I’ve dropped for them and search for living sod to eat. They press their lips close to the ground and nibble whatever they can.

I wasn’t quite sure how Tigger, our boy goat, would react to his new freedom to roam. Slowly and all on his own, he broke away from the other critters to surveil the fence line, first one direction, then another. I watched him closely as he wandered off toward the woods and perimeter fence at the far end of the property–the very direction he had escaped when we first brought him home last October. But he paused only briefly on the crest of the hill there to peer into the trees, then turned left at a right angle, continuing his walk and eventually rejoining the pack.

Apparently, Tigger is only to0 happy to hang with his new friends, especially Emily, the Jersey heifer, with whom he has formed a special bond.

Now we begin our second year on the farm. Soon enough, I will be leading the animals to grazing areas that have been impossible to reach for months. I wonder what surprises lie in store.

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