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COUNTRY CONNECTIONS: Spring fever is making me delirious

One day early last week as I walked past the Brownstone complex across the alley from the Herald office, I saw a guy mowing the lawn. As I drank in a whiff of the newly cut grass I was envious of him.

One day early last week as I walked past the Brownstone complex across the alley from the Herald office, I saw a guy mowing the lawn. As I drank in a whiff of the newly cut grass I was envious of him.

That shows how desperate I was for spring. It's so late in coming that I am looking forward to getting on the lawnmower. Our grass hasn't grown enough to justify spending the gas it takes to mow it. Most springs we would have mowed three or four times by now.

At our house there was still more brown than green in mid-May. The lilac bushes were the only trees showing a hint of green. Bare branches were the norm on the rest. Meanwhile, the fields surrounding our farm still were bare, though I know they had been seeded weeks before. It's just been too dang cold for anything to grow.

That didn't stop us, however, for proceeding with some spring chores. We did plant our garden seeds. We also stuck about 15 pounds of potatoes in the ground. I'm optimistic that by the time they peek out of the ground it will be warmer. However, we are waiting until this weekend to transplant our tomato, zucchini and eggplants and plant flower seeds.

Though it's tough to wait when you're itching to dig in the dirt, we figure it's best to heed the advice of experts who say "Zone 3" gardeners shouldn't transplant until Memorial Day weekend. I know people who jumped the gun and ended up with limp tomato plants, and I don't want mine to meet the same fate.

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Other chores

Besides garden planting, another chore we tackled is spring cleaning -- not our house, but my mom's chicken house. As anyone who raises livestock or poultry knows, a lot of waste builds up when animals or birds are confined for a few months during the winter. Because chickens produce a lot of ammonia, spring in the chicken house can be odorous. I wanted to get it cleaned before the chickens started holding their beaks and so my mom would have a more pleasant experience feeding them and gathering eggs, two of her favorite chores.

Though not a pleasant job, cleaning the chicken house is a necessary one, and the reward is happy chickens that will continue to be prolific producers. Courtesy of my mom, I am a regular supplier of farm-fresh eggs to several Herald employees and am proud to say I am the only Herald worker who finds empty egg boxes in my mailbox. My co-workers know how many cartons my mom goes through and kindly give them to me to pass along to her.

Cleaning the horse barn is next on our spring chores list and, after a long, cold winter, there will be plenty of it to do. My husband, Brian, can clean most of the building with the loader bucket, but there is still enough used bedding left in the corners to give my biceps a good workout with the pitchfork.

Spring rites

Another annual ritual of spring is to have our animals vaccinated and we did that in April and early May. One veterinarian came to our farm and gave our horses shots to keep them protected from rabies and encephalitis and we took the dogs and cat to a local veterinary clinic where they received a variety of boosters and medications that will protect them from summer insects.

As we wait to finish planting our garden, mow and tackle other spring and, later, summer projects, I'm trying to relax and enjoy the relatively quiet week nights and weekends. I know that once it does warm up, there will be plenty of work to keep us busy. Then I'll have plenty of opportunity to smell our own cut grass, newly turned soil and the freshest fertilizer around, courtesy of the horses.

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