September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

An early spring

By Natalie Schmitt- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Everyone seems to be walking on egg shells around here because we don't know what we should be doing. The weather has all of us nervous and confused, yet wonderfully warm. Should we celebrate and enjoy the early warm spring or start to worry about a dry growing season? Do we put the duals on the tractor and hook up the disk or should we wait until the calendar says it is time to be in the fields? This current warm weather pattern is uncharted territory full of unknown scenarios. Usually March means at least one state tournament snow storm. We curse when winter storms roar into March extending an already long winter and celebrate when the month ends like a lamb signaling an end to winter. This has been the cycle of life for centuries.
Just think about it though. We remember weather events based on our cycle of life. The Halloween snow storm of '91 hit a month after Jonathon was born. The killing August frost happened during the State Fair encampment of '74. The drought of '88 was our first year of marriage and our first year of officially farming without Ralph. The Mississippi River flooded my home county when Michael was born and again when he was old enough to help drive home. ('93 and '08) We hit -50 degree temps the winter Katie could walk in the snow. Austin's first winter we had snowdrifts as tall as the cab of the tractor along the driveway. The kids dug out a fort in the snow wall complete with a bench inside.
Like life, weather appears to roll in cycles. I'm sure this weather pattern happened before, maybe before the ice age, but not in any recent memory. I guess we might as well celebrate that we are living through history because over the next 100 years, meteorologists will compare our record high temperatures for future generations to marvel. Yes, Virginia, it can be warm in Minnesota in March!
I have to admit, I am enjoying the dry warm weather. This morning Mark and I were lying on the grass in the morning sun watching cows for heat. Ok, maybe one of us was napping while the other was keeping an eye on the cows, but it was a relaxing spring moment. There were no bugs buzzing around our heads or crawling up our pants legs. It is hard to believe that the first day of spring can actually be bright, warm and dry without traveling to a southern state.
While we are running around in t-shirts, the warm weather is taking a toll on Jonathon and Austin's maple syrup projects. The higher the temperatures go, the lower the maple syrup harvest becomes. It looks like we will not have any syrup to put up this year. The maple trees need temperatures in the 20s or lower in the evenings and above freezing during the days in order for the sap to run. The sudden change from cold to almost hot days has caught even the trees off guard. They are so confused. They don't know if the sap should be coming or going.
Once the trees start to leaf out the maple syrup season will be done. The box elder tree by the old garage is already starting to leaf out. I keep scanning the horizon for the light green haze of birch and willow trees leafing out along the creek line. It won't be long by the rate we're going. One good warm spring rain will wake up the pussy willows and croaking frogs to keep the season moving along in order, but way ahead of schedule.
The warm weather has even pushed the amaryllises to bloom early. We pulled the bulbs out of the basement hibernation on Ash Wednesday. After a couple of waterings, the bulbs woke up and started to push their leaves up toward the sun. This schedule usually results in a display of candy cane striped blooms for Easter Sunday. There are 12 blooms already opened and it is still three weeks until Easter.
Another sign that we have officially called an end to winter is the moving of the snow blower. It has been sitting outside Al's machine shed all winter, ready at a moment's notice to be hitched up to clear the driveway and yards. As the grass started to green up around the base of the blower, the time had come to put it away along the wall of the machine shed until the next time snow falls. At the rate this year has been going, that might be in September.
The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) has been charting the weather picks for the next 90 days. They say warm weather is here to stay with many areas seeing temperatures 30 degrees above normal. There is a possibility the drought conditions could improve with near normal precipitation. Let's hope they're better at forecasting the weather than some people have been with forecasting the final four in the basketball brackets for this year's NCAA tournament.
The only thing we know for sure is that we will probably never see this weather pattern again, so we might as well relax and enjoy the sun and warm weather, because a real Minnesota winter is just around the next corner. I wonder if I can start planting potatoes before Good Friday?[[In-content Ad]]


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