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ANN BAILEY: Dreaming of short-sleeves, rhubarb

A tradition in our family is to guess, in March, when the last pile of snow on the farmstead will be gone. Each member of our family picks a date, and then we write it down on a piece of paper. The person who picks the date that is the closest to...

Ann Bailey

A tradition in our family is to guess, in March, when the last pile of snow on the farmstead will be gone. Each member of our family picks a date, and then we write it down on a piece of paper. The person who picks the date that is the closest to being right, without going past the date, wins a small prize.

Because our farmstead is surrounded by large trees, which provide a lot of shade, I try to err on the side of caution when I make my guess. When I made my guess last month, I thought I would be pretty safe to say the last of the snow would be gone by April 19. The rest of my family guessed a few days after that date, except for one who guessed May 1.

Obviously, I was way off, unless I was talking about April 19, 2014. Since I made my guess, the snow piles have diminished little. Every time it warms up for them to melt a little, more snow falls and my husband Brian has to clean out the yard and push it back onto the pile. Meanwhile, our front and side yards remain covered by a foot of snow as is the garden.

Under cover

Last year, I was picking rhubarb from the garden and making it into desserts and sauces by now. This year, the rhubarb is buried. under a heavy blanket of snow. That's a good thing because if it had started to grow it likely would have been killed, or at least set back, by our cold overnight temperatures this month.

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Given our unseasonably cold spring, I also am glad that our horses still have their thick winter coats. I've thought about giving them a good brushing because it looks like they have some loose hair, but I decided to wait because I figure they can use the extra insulation.

Though, I am thoroughly tired of wearing winter clothes, I can't bring myself to start wearing short-sleeved shirts, yet. I hate being cold so even though I would rather be wearing my spring and summer wardrobe, I'm still wearing long-sleeved shirts and sweaters. I also haven't yet exchanged my winter coat for my spring one. I don't want to be in a stalled or stuck car with only a spring jacket to keep me warm.

At least I don't have to dress in as many layers as my daughter, Ellen, who has to put on snow pants, along with her winter boots, coat, hat and gloves. After dressing in those for five months, she's more than ready for spring. The other day, she asked that, if the weather stayed in the same cycle it's been in, she would still be wearing snow pants on the last day of school.

What's ahead?

I think one reason this winter seems so interminable is because last year was so mild and spring arrived early. It's one of the few years I can remember that the weather conditions actually coincided with the date on the calendar. By this time last year, swans, ducks and geese had already made their annual stop to the ponds in our field and had moved on to their northern summer home.

This year, our fields remain frozen tundra. And I don't expect to see water fowl for at least a couple more weeks.

But while the cold temperatures and snow are frustrating, it's the snow melt ahead that concerns me. The memories of 2011, when we contended with several inches of water in our basement for months, are still fresh in mind.

For as much as I want to see the snow go, I hope that it doesn't warm up suddenly so it all melts at once. If the last snow pile is gone in late May, that will be OK with me. As far as the spring warm up, steady as she goes is my preference.

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Reach Bailey at annb08@dishmail.net or (218) 779-8093.

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