These three heralds of winter’s end are here, and have been keeping us busy for the last month!
Seed starting, maple syrup making, and egg collecting all burst out of the depths of winter at about the same time. Although, we didn’t really have any “depths” of winter around here this year! The mild weather I complained of in January continued right on through for the most part, and brought about an oddly early maple sap run in the last couple weeks of January, of all things.
Collecting sap, scrounging wood, cutting and stacking wood, nursing the fires, and boiling down and processing the syrup kept us up late nights off and on throughout February.
Sometimes, in critical times of a big sap run, we set our alarms to go off every few hours through the night, and got up to feed the fire under the reducing sap. Once, I got called out at 3:30 am to a birth, and P just got up along with me and stayed up to keep the sap boiling.
More than once, we finally completed and canned the finished syrup around midnight, because that’s when it was done. Leaving for work in the morning, and getting home after 6pm mean catching up on farmwork after dark.
Soon after the days start getting longer and the light comes back, the chickens start laying again after the winter break that most of them take. But they seem sensitive to cold as well as light, and their egg-laying only really has a burst of speed when the days start to warm above freezing, same as maple sap. So I always associate maple sap running with the hens laying - bringing in a daily bounty in egg baskets and sap buckets. Both were unusually early this unusually warm winter. We’ve started our local egg sale deliveries again, as well as supplying eggs to Selma Cafe.
And, it’s seed-starting time. I love the process of watching next summer’s plants start off from the tiniest sprouts. It’s incredible to me that a frail little sprout becomes a giant bunch of celery, or that bushels of tomatoes come out of just the few seeds you can hold in the hollow of a cupped hand.