how now brown ground

We had a few days of real spring earlier this week. Now we’re back to that instability of early spring where the weather changes every 5.2 minutes. And it’s colder. And it snowed sideways last evening. Sigh.

The good news is that most of the snow is gone from the farm. It’s completely gone in downtown Ithaca and on the Cornell campus, but they are at a lower elevation than we are. We’re consistently 3-5 degrees F colder than the rest of Ithaca. So, most of the snow is gone. And that means a lot of brown ground. Everywhere.

There are bits of green interspersed amid the sea of brown. Mostly of the weed variety. Amazing how weeds can get such a head start on everything else. Argh! If it weren’t so damp and muddy out, it would be nice to weed in a desperate attempt to stay ahead of the little weed monsters. But it is terribly damp and muddy everywhere so no weeding for you.

The chickens are quite content, however, with the arrival of mud season. Despite the cooler temperatures (and wind) today, they have spent most of the day in the orchard and garden. They wander and scratch and dig and munch and run over if another hen has seemed to find something exciting. Sometimes I wonder if they expend more calories wandering around than consuming them, particularly this time of year when there isn’t nearly as much to eat.

All of the hens were mini-rototillers in the asparagus patch in the garden. That was the first corner of the garden to thaw and lose snow. Ron whacked at the already-emergent weeds at the edge of the asparagus patch yesterday with the pick axe. Apparently the hens were little chicken helpers (not to be confused with Chicken Helper), thrilled with the clumps of weeds, loosened dirt, and open ground. Ron deposited some compost on the asparagus and the chickens helped him spread it out. In fact, they did most of the work.

One exception to the extensive brown ground is a little patch of grass where Ron plucked Scruffy on his fated One Bad Day last Boxing Day. Most of the feathers and tufts are still caught in the grass there (!?). We thought they had blown away, but apparently not. There are distinct white feathers all over the ground there. I suspect the other birds will happily, well, pluck the feathers from the ground and take them back to the nests they have started building. Seems a little bird cannibalistic or something. They aren’t eating Scruffy, but poor Scruffy’s feathers will keep their nests (and baby birds) nice and soft and warm.

But other than some white feathers by the picnic table and some bright green weeds hither and thither, we’re definitely now in brown, mud season.

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