When we get near the end of February and heading into March all I can see is just how stark the world looks. We really have been through the dead of winter and the deepest part of the year that we have felt we could be hit with. Yet as the daylight covers the earth one more day of looking at a colorless and drab cold day arrives for us to one more time endure.
The trees no longer have their foliage and the grass is a lovely shade of brown. This was and I feel still is the time of year a farmer looks at his fields and buildings and wonders just why did he ever want to be a caretaker of the land. At this time of year mother earth appears to have nothing to offer in the way of productivity. Even the livestock trudge as they make their way across the barnyard, splashing water with each step and leaving marks in the land that is now never ending mud!
As I had mentioned before the seed catalogs give a reminder that even though it feels very doubtful at this moment the world will return to its growing ways. I know as a boy and even into manhood this time of year still had a need for us to make preparations for tobacco beds. On days when we could get out on the land without sinking we were busy collecting wood to burn our beds with. But even before tobacco lost its need around here the plants began being grown on water. But without tobacco to plan for a lot of labor has left those looking for something to do at this time of year.
Also this is the time to head to the Farm Bureau to buy seed for the garden and the corn fields etc. We would pay a visit to George Thomas Shinkle and place our annual order for fertilizer and Ammonium Nitrate that we were going to use in the growing seasons. That today is delivered and spread in bulk and the day of the fifty pound bags has almost totally disappeared. Still we would take inventory on what equipment replacement parts should be stocked in so when we did get to work we didn’t have to stop. So for us that meant at least one trip to Harlow tractor supply and maybe Bannock’s’.
Even though the days are becoming a tad longer and the nights just a little shorter it still feels like a useless time of the year. I know that even though you sit down and make lists for all the items I mentioned and plan to go buy them, and just as you head for the truck along comes a heavy rain. As you stand at the window or door watching it rain you can’t ignore the water running off the rooves and down the driveway or roads. At that moment it is easy to feel the world will never be dry again. Just look at the fields and see the marks left from the past years farming prints and see clusters of leaves all wet and limp and showing signs of decay from the long winter. It just seems there is not a positive sign to be seen.
All that has been said are the parts that make up nearing the end of the winter and even though we can’t really see it we are seeing the entering to spring. O K I said it! I said the word we are all waiting to hear. SPRING! Even though the ponds and creeks are running somewhat swollen out of their banks and the water appears only as churned up mud we are day by day leaving this depressing mess.
I know as I was a young man I would spend many hours playing Euchre or penny ante poker with some other guys who were kept indoors the same as me. I would watch a lot of television even though the beginning of reruns had begun. Why I would even try to shoot pool. (I stink at pool!) Also during this time I would be adding pounds onto what I went into the fall looking in a pretty good shape and my muscles were toned. But not so much now.
Even if you don’t farm there is nothing that can be done even if you just want to trim fruit trees or try to get a jump on improving the lawn. I guess it is safe to say that I have more than made my point that this is a bad time of year. I am sorry for all the pessimism but cold rain and idle days can do that to a fella. It always did in the past and continues to cast its spell on me still. The things to remember in all the dreariness I have laid out don’t make plans to take a trip about that time. You see because just as sure as you do the sky will become dry and the skies will become blue. Day after day the earth begins its journey to dry. From there it isn’t long before you quit asking how high did the Ohio River get to and you waterways begin changing color from mud brown to a little green.
These days you begin to give the tractors oil changes and pull the ground breaking equipment out to prepare it for use also. If you take a look you will notice the livestock are walking much smoother and trudging less and have stopped leaving hoof prints in the ground. Of course you are still wearing a coat and budding of trees and shrubs have yet to begin but just inside of yourself you can feel a feeling of being a little more positive that maybe we will make it to spring!
For those of us who are homeowners these days and have removed yourselves from the farms can also feel that positive feeling. It is and has always been my feeling that mankind wants in the worst way to be a positive individual. There is nothing that sounds or feels better than saying yep it is going to be a good day!
Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.