Last Friday we received about a foot of heavy wet snow. It was depressing and everyone was complaining and crabby, including me. It felt like spring would never arrive. April has been a strange and very snowy month.
One week later and it looks like this…
Yes, I think spring has finally arrived. The last two days we have enjoyed temperatures in the low 70′s. It is not expected to last all week, but it sure has helped to melt the snow and get spring kicked into gear.
Last weekend, when it was still cold, we hosted a smoking party at our house. Jesse was going to fire up the smokehouse while the temperatures were still cool with the snow on the ground, so he invited friends to bring over anything they wanted to smoke. We had a real assortment of good stuff: almonds, peanuts, cheese, cheese curds, leg of lamb, pork chops, pork roasts, ribs, and chickens. Once the smokehouse was loaded up, we enjoyed chatting and having some beverages while we waited for the smokehouse to work its cold-smoking magic.
We also started cooking sap to make maple syrup the same day. The sap ran very late this year due to the crazy spring. We were not sure if it would run at all, but the trees finally started dripping and actually produced a lot of sap.
Jesse found this stainless steel pan at a restaurant equipment store and it works great on our outdoor stove to cook the sap. It has a lot of surface area to help with evaporation and to cook the sap down faster. The sap looks just like water when you first collect it from the tree to start cooking.
As it cooks longer, it starts to brown up and begins to have a sweet caramel-like aroma. We cooked down enough sap last weekend to make one gallon of syrup.
Yes, spring is here. The birds have been singing, the geese are honking, and the frogs have awoken and are singing their lovely spring song.
All varieties of wildlife are on the move. During the day yesterday, I was working at home and as I glanced up from the file I was reading, I noticed these turkeys come walking past the back of the barn and headed towards the river. I grabbed my camera and snapped a few shots.
We joke sometimes about living in a nature preserve. I guess we have the river to thank for the wide array of wildlife we get to see and/or hear (the owls hooting at night are my favorite) on a daily basis.
We spent yesterday evening and today outside enjoying the warm temperatures by starting our spring cleanup. I cut down any perennials that stood through the winter and raked all the leaves out of the gardens.
Tired of the chickens coming up by the house and digging in the dirt of my perennial garden, we decided to lock them in the vegetable garden fence today to enjoy the sunshine. Ironically, we built this very fence in part, to keep the chickens out of the vegetable garden. They loved kicking around the bit of straw, pecking at the grass, and digging in the dirt all day.
Likewise, the peonies are bursting out of the ground. I love peonies so much. They remind me of my grandma.
The beehives are sitting empty across the field awaiting their new residents. We ordered two nucs of bees that should arrive in about 10 days. The nucs contain some frames of brood and a queen, so they are already somewhat established. Since we are starting over again after a year of bee-keeping drama (swarming, robbing, etc.), it will be nice to have the hives get up and running quickly.
So, after a very long winter, it seems as though spring has arrived. Finally.
There may likely be a few more bumps along the way, but we are definitely headed in the right direction.