Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What will this mild winter mean?

Some of our trees are being tricked into budding. I've seen early bulbs breaking through. The ground is not frozen and it makes me feel guilty for not being outside.

All of us farmers are a bit confused by this mild winter weather. Do we start our springtime chores early? Do we wait in anticipation of some late snowfalls? Will we ever have a string of days with hard freezes? Will they hopefully get here soon if they plan on showing up and promise not to come in March or April?!?

Some bee-keepers are happy because their hives are still active. But maple syrup tappers are concerned - the weather patterns might shorten the season. Laying hens are producing well with the mild temperatures. Annual vegetables are enjoying their extended lifespans, but perennials might not be getting an adequate hibernation period.

After last year's crazy weather patterns (i.e., heavy winter snowfalls, fast thaw that lead to flooding and wet fields, a dry June, tropical storm-filled months in late summer), we - as first-time farmers - expected this year to be "normal." Everyone told us "it's never happened like this before..." But I think we'll go into this year's season expecting the unexpected, the "new normal," which really means that anything goes.

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