The first lamb of the season would arrive on the windiest of March nights! Like Mary Poppins, she blew in as the wind changed under an umbrella of surprise.
A day later and the morning was so filled with bird chatter it seemed as if all the feathered and flibberty gibberty gossips of the avian world had alighted, moving into every nook and cranny and branch our trees have to offer. No doubt, they were exchanging exciting tidbits about their journey up from the south, the neighbor's new hatchlings, and of course, the delectable prospects of the upcoming seeding season for sweet and feed corn. Thank heaven's for Englishman John Seymour's little anecdotal advice about burying your onion sets and not leaving the little slips of tops poking out...lest the birds tug them all up! We just finished plunking a good 8,000 sets in the ground on Monday, and would very much like them to stay (and grow) where they are!
To prepare the ground for them, and for the spring onion plants we've been coddling in the greenhouse we harnassed Maj and Marta and shallowly plowed and disced the "bed". 400 ft rows sends my mind into soft wimpering, but the horses seem to like it. Marta stepped into the furrow and plodded away as if she's been doing it all her life. Four 50 x 400 ft strips will serve as our garden section, alternating with cover crop strips of oats and red clover for yearly rotational fertility boosting, and making use of a summer fallow period (Nordell Style*) to make an attempt at fooling weeds. Wrestling with a walking plow on a hillside while set to shallow tillage makes one cause the hills to resound with not-so-Christian verbage. It's all part of our plan to continue to intrigue the neighbors. "No they can't be Amish...I heard one of them send up a symphony of cussing just the other day..." These first days of breaking ground and first transplants are wrestling days in which we refer to our beloved piece of earth as a "Troublesome Wench"...But how we love her! Perhaps the most cheeriest news of the season was the girls' discovery of plenty of earthworms who have been busy beneath the service, beating us to the punch with some excellent soil building...
Two weeks ago with the help of his 70 year old expert woodsman of a son, we felled a giant of a tree that Mauritz planted behind his house as a seedling back in 1928. We were making way for more light for the greenhouses. It is humbling how immediately 2 men can change a landscape. How the needs of little early cabbage and spring onion seedlings can require the bold action of the felling of an 80 yr old tree.
But new growth will be grafted onto the old stock of historic memory. An orchard is planned in its place, and in the greenhouse the invigorated plants are nearly ready for their first forays into the big field. So begins a new season.
* more on Anne and Eric Nordell's WEED THE SOIL, NOT THE CROP later. Suffice to say for the moment: A big hearty thank you to J. Straude for tipping our inspiration bank to brimming, and setting us in earnest action to emulate their sound practices!