SPRING

A pastured livestock farm shouts "SPRING!" like nothing else I know.  Sure, school sports programs shift into softball and baseball.  Easter is around the corner. 

 But to immerse in the awakening as palpably as the pulsating life in the grasses, buds, and birds on the farm is unlike anything.  Here at Polyface, we're scrambling in that mad transition from winter to spring where everything that was inside comes outside.

 We put out the first chickens last week; the first set of Eggmobiles is up and running.  The cows are all out, dancing and kicking up their heels in the fresh tentacles of new grass.  The first two cows calved Saturday; one was a set of twins.  With the cows exited from the barn, pigaerators are going in.  Goodness, are they happy.

 They run up and down on the deep bedding pack and quickly bury their noses in the soft carbonaceous diaper, looking for fermented corn.  That fermented corn will pay their work salary for the next month as they aerate the winter bedding, some of which is 4.5 feet deep.  Yes, that's not a typo.  It's up to your shoulder when you stand next to it outside the awning.  Lots for the pigs to do.  And lots of compost to spread.

 Thursday the first batch of broilers arrived.  That's a rite of spring that's hard to ignore.  When that van pulls in from the hatchery and 3,000 little yellow fuzz balls need a warm, dry, comfortable place it completely dominates your life.  These are dramatic, but wonderful, transitions and every spring I look forward to them more.  Probably because I like being cold less and less each year.

 The massive wood pile that looked immeasurable in the fall is a tiny pitiful pittance of pieces that hopefully will keep the chill off until we can shut down the outdoor wood stove sometime in May.  Fortunately, I don't have to go out right before bedtime to stoke it any more.  That's a dramatic shift too.

 On a factory farm, the shift is not as apparent.  Everything stays in the factory house regardless of how nice it is outside.  What a shame, that those farmers do not partake of the cataclysmic seasonal shift taking place in nature.  What a privilege to be able to touch and be touched by this powerful, profound awakening in the life around us.  To relish each blade of grass as a signature of seasonal birth.

 What's your most poignant touch of spring?