At long last, it seems like spring might arrive after all. Here at the farm, only the largest or most protected snow banks persist, and the robins are poking around the thawed and muddy earth. A couple of weeks ago around dusk I heard the sharp trill of the first red-winged blackbird of the season, and this weekend I saw that the daffodils planted along the foundation on the east side of the house have begun to push through the soil. But it has been a slow start to the season, for sure, and the forecasters have predicted a wet, cold spring ahead of us.
So I’m betting that my carefully choreographed farm plan is going to be thrown off schedule almost immediately. Right now, there is a good deal of standing water in the field, which is not atypical but certainly gives me pause. If over the next month the soil doesn’t dry out enough, I will be late in getting my primary tillage done, which will delay the first plantings, which will delay the first harvest, and so on down through the line.
Which is how it goes, sometimes, and I can’t do much about the weather. I am, however, beginning to suspect that some of my drainage problems in the field are a result of its past history of conventional farming, especially the soil compaction that occurs when large implements and tractor-trailers are driven back and forth across the fields at harvest time. And soil compaction is something I can correct. One of the ongoing jobs for this year, and for many years following, will be returning the soil to good health. The soil’s problems didn’t happen overnight, and I can’t correct them overnight, as much as I would like to. So yet again this farm places me in a posture of expectant waiting, which is to say, of hope.