March Nor’Easter?!

Just last week, warm spring weather coaxed us outside in short sleeves and high spirits for several days, hinting at what’s to come.  Honey bees were flying, busily collecting water, pollen and early nectar.  My queen was laying lots of eggs in anticipation of the spring nectar flow and I even spotted two drones wandering inside the hive along with many fuzzy new baby girls.  Bulbs pushed up through the earth, many even blooming.  Buds on trees high in the sky were prominently showing off color as their buds threatened to burst forth despite the earliness of the season.  Spring buildup was in full force here in Maryland.

 

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All the girls are busy:  honey bees collecting water and hens searching for insects.

 

 

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Soil wakening and bulbs pushing up, finding their way despite what’s in their path.

 

 

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The bright yellow pollen in the middle of the eye-catching purple petals of these crocuses easily attracts honey bees searching for early spring food.

 

 

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My winter aconites provide food very early in the season for honey bees when little else is blooming.

 

The earth is waking up after a winter’s nap and my soul is quickening at the thought of all that is to come with a new season.  I’ve pulled out seed packets and begun a few inside.  I’m planning the vegetable garden and pondering more plant purchases, eager to sink spade into soil and watch nature work her magic yet again.  I even brought blooming lemon plants outside for honey bee pollination services!

 

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Benary’s Giant Zinnias on the left and Globe Amaranth just emerging on the right

 

 

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This lemon plant was not outside five minutes before the first honey bee found it and quickly went to work.  You can see the pollen on her legs as she works it into the pollen pouches on her rear legs.

 

The chickens were frolicking in the balmy 60, even 70 degree weather, anxious to get out and free range for newly emerged bugs and greens, fussing at my delays and then cranking with me upon their return to the run.  Alas, it all came to a screeching halt as days of cold weather returned and a Nor’Easter threatened, in March.

 

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Despite the threat of a Nor’Easter, my girls say spring time is nigh.  All eight laid eggs yesterday before the storm came through.  After slowing for the winter, they’re egg production has resumed in anticipation of the return of warm days.

 

At first, I ignored the early talk of snow, thinking the ground too warm for anything to properly stick after so many days of warm temperatures, but as each day remained cold and the storm projections climbed, I decided to pay attention.   Our winter produced plenty of cold and blustery days but my hens had little experience with snow in their first year of life.  Our area was slated to get a foot of snow, more or less depending on the model, but certainly enough to take heed.  So I decided to tack up some plastic sheeting to keep out as much snow as I could to allow them coveted outdoor time.

The plastic sheeting sent them into a tizzy as my husband rolled it out and stapled it along the roofline.  They huddled in the rear open area of the run while I calmly told them it would be okay.  I had to coax them up the ramp into the coop at dusk as they were leery of the plastic being something altogether different.  I closed them up tightly for the night and with each wakening of wind and frozen precipitation that assaulted the house, I was able to return to sleep knowing that they were well protected from the elements.

 

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Battening down the hatches:  the roof was one of the best decisions we made when we constructed the coop, allowing the hens outside time despite the weather but with snow threatening to blow in, we stapled up plastic sheeting, a simple enough project that was worth the effort.

 

Several inches of snow fell during the night before hours of frozen precipitation topped off the snow, making for a crunchy walk down to the coop this morning.  As usual, chickens poured out, pushing and shoving, squawking and racing down their ramp when I opened the run door.  Then they just stopped and looked up to me for an explanation.

I was delighted that the plastic wrap held out so much snow that the girls could be outside today to hunt and peck on the dirt under the roof of the run.  The girls completely shunned the open area of the run where snow accumulated and when I did offer free range time outside, I laughed as they took in the frozen tundra before them and one by one, snubbed me, turning away and finding interest in the bare earth of the run.

 

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What happened to the grass, bugs and warm sunshine?

 

While the snow totals didn’t reach expectations, we still enjoyed a snow day, all of us home together, cozy in a warm home, slowing down to talk and listen, no extracurricular activities to navigate, no plans to uphold, just time to be.  I used a dozen eggs to make coffee cake and scrambled eggs with sausage crumbles for breakfast.  After working outside, we warmed up with hearty beef stew and now we wait on beer to brew, a slow process perfect for a day like this.  The house is full of love, warmth and the smell of hops!

 

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While not interested in venturing out into the snow, the girls gladly accepted some warm grains from the kitchen brewery.

 

 

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Coffee cake and eggs to start the snow day!

 

Spring is still just around the corner.  The  girls know this as they are all laying regularly again after slowing down for the winter:  eight eggs yesterday and six so far today.  I’m now flush with eggs and after having given so many away the past six months, I’ve decided to sell some.  It’s been a delight to hear the reports from friends who try our eggs and find them to be delicious, noting the higher quality from their organic diet and free ranging.  The shells are hard and thick, the yolks are vibrant and the colors of the eggs themselves, just plain fun.   And that’s just on the surface, digging deeper, I know that the nutritional profile of our eggs is far superior than any eggs from the grocery store.

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So Old Man Winter may think he’s got one on us with this late blast of wintery cold, but I say Mother Nature has a way of reminding us that we’re not in charge and when it’s time to slow down and regroup, she provides.  As I look out at the fat snowflakes continuing to fall towards evening, I know that the snow will melt soon enough with the return of bright sunshine and warm temperatures and we’ll get on with the business of spring.  For now, I’m content with this offering, seeing beauty in falling white flakes and a snow blanketed landscape, knowing that there is more just below the surface.

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What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.

  • John Steinbeck

 

3 thoughts on “March Nor’Easter?!

  1. I love your chicken chalkboard. I will be shopping for one myself after seeing yours.
    Thankfully I didn’t get much snow here in PA where I am. Just a little dusting. I was nervous about all of my animals just as you were. I hope the snow doesn’t damper your spirits for the warm spring weather that will hopefully be back before long again.
    Stopping by from livingsimplewiththejanegirls.WordPress.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’ve had that chalkboard sign for some time and I’m happy to be able to use it now that I finally have chickens. I did visit your blog and I love your new sign! Cold and blustery here today still, but spring is just a few days away!

      Liked by 1 person

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