Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Who Needs A Groundhog, Anyway?

So ol' Phil didn't see his shadow, which means an early spring.

Heck, any farmer worth his salt could have told you THAT! We don't need large rodents, astrological predictions, or the National Weather Service (which I am convinced may be one and the same), to tell what the seasons are going to be like!

Last year, for Southern Oregon at least, we had one of the harshest winters in about 10 years. I knew it was going to be a bad winter well before it hit though! Farmers, by trade, have to pay attention to the plants, the animals, and Ma Nature. Simply by observing the things around them, farmers can tell what the near future holds for the area. In that fall, I remember specifically that the oak trees were the biggest giveaway (especially in a large and early acorn production), followed by the way in which the woodpeckers and squirrels stored up for winter (about double the amount of food that they would usually store, and they started earlier than normal too), and the geese began flying south what seemed quite early in the season. The land, plants, and animals gave other signs as well, but I remember that those were the top three that really made me start to worry. This winter has been relatively mild (in my opinion, anyway), and I had a feeling it was going to be an early, mild spring. We have had about two extra weeks of warm dry weather this year. Normally, around January or February, we get a roughly 2 week warming spell. I remember that it's almost always about the time that I am transplanting bare root fruit trees, and I always begin to worry towards the end of the spell if I am going to have to water my garden before it rains again. Well, this year we had FOUR weeks of warm, dry weather (I know because I keep a daily garden/weather journal), and I DID have to water a few sections of my garden! The plant seeds are already germinating, and I was able to get my peas and fava beans in a few weeks early. I noticed that my arch enemy, the Ground Squirrel, has already woken up from its winter nap and is wreaking cavernous havoc around my backyard. The geese have been flying back quite early, scaring my kittens each afternoon as they fly overhead.
The weather finally appears to be returning to "normal" with rains predicted later this week. I'm intrigued to see how the rest of the season continues, and I hope that we are still due for quite a bit more rain yet...this area certainly needs it!

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