All the little signs of spring are now emerging on my homestead, with winter finally at an end. The enormous maple tree in our back yard has sap seeping from its grayish brown bark. I find it very interesting that it is only the southern side of the tree that the bark seeps sap. This has been the case every spring that I have taken note, which is quite some time now. It appears that there is a shadow on the bark. One could be fooled that this is the case if you are not observant, like I am, of the tiny subtleties of spring. Another indicator of the sap flow, is the activity on the bark. There are many different type of insects that come to dine on the sap; insects as small as tiny pollinating flies to honey bees. It is a mysterious world of the insect that I get to observe,for just a fleeting time, for which I am grateful.
The Leather Leaf Mahonia flowers are just appearing. A small bright yellow flower, with an amazingly pungent lemon sent. This flower calls mostly honey bees. It is truly amazing how the bees can find and are attracted to something so small. It will be only a short time before the lemon scented blueberry flowers awaken to their spring calling. Then the peach flowers will follow the blueberry flowers. On and on it will go. This has been the pattern on my homestead for some time now. It will be interesting, as I add new variety of plants to our edible landscaping, to observe how the order will change.
While I take time to observe the honey bees on warm days, I notice they will be carrying bright orange and bright yellow pollen on their pollen baskets. I would imagine this is pollen taken from the local nurseries stock of Easter lilies. Thankfully for my bees there is a nursery about one mile down the road from me. This will give them a consistent supply of pollen and nectar in the early days of spring before Mother Nature has come into full swing.
Let us not forget one of my heart’s delights, the flowers! My children and I planted about fifty crocus bulbs two falls ago. These beauties are peeping their green tiny tips through the mulch. Yet another observation I notice is that the crocus flowers keep going once they immerge, slow and steady. Where as the daffodil and tulip flowers immerge, but then pause for some time with only the beginnings of growth. It seems to be a few months no less, that they are waiting for their time to bloom. I am still waiting to see the bright green beginnings of new plant growth sprinkled throughout the woods, as well as the slender emerald-green tender shoots of the new grass that grows close to the woods. Something about this new brilliantly colored grass is just as pleasing for me as the colorful flowers are.
Let’s not forget the chickens. Their egg production is in full swing it appears. Even though the weather is not what we would consider ideal quite yet, these girls know it is nearly spring and are producing eggs abundantly. The chicks I got back in the summer have just started laying last month. It’s funny how their eggs are small to start out with. It should be a few months when their eggs are full size.
I hope the newly laying hens will hold off wanting to set, (sit on their eggs to hatch the eggs) until next year. I have found that some of my new hens are compelled to set. I have also found they do not have the patience and or understanding when they are young to set with the same clutch of eggs through the twenty one day waiting period. This results on partially formed chicks that are abandoned. Not good.
When a hen does decide to set , I have to mark several of the eggs for her to keep for the entire twenty one days. Because when the time comes for her to get up and eat, drink, stretch her legs, and defecate for the measly twenty minutes in a day, inevitably other hens will decide to lay in the very same nesting box. While gathering the daily eggs, my children will need to pick the setting hen up and check under her to see if she has unmarked eggs in with her marked eggs. It is, I would say, about a 97% chance that there will be unmarked eggs with her. So it is a little extra work for us, but well worth it when there is a doting mother hen with her tiny new chicks in the yard.
Lastly, what is heard in the early beginnings of spring rather than seen, Spring Peepers. Yes, the small but very boisterous sounding frogs that live in boggy areas. Or in my case two males that live in our pond. Just down the road from me is a corn field that has a low area. After all this rain and melting snow we have had it is no wonder there is water pooled in it. The day was warm so I had my car window down. To my delight I heard the very first chorus of Spring Peepers singing their beautiful mating songs. It is truly just around the corner now- Spring you are a very welcome season to welcome in!