Spring On The Farm

There is no more fitting symbol and sign that spring has arrived than the birth of livestock on the farm. New life and new beginnings. A promise of longer and warmer days. Piglets are being born, baby chickens start arriving, and the ewes are lambing.  I never could tell when spring had arrived. The calendar said the first day of spring was March 21, or close to it, and called the vernal equinox. As a kid, I never understood what “vernal” was, but I knew the equinox had something to do with equal and I was told it meant equal amount of daylight and darkness. Then we had Ground Hogs Day on February 2, which just happens to be my oldest brother Ed’s birthday. The folklore is that if the groundhog sees his shadow when he pokes his head out of his burrow, there would be six more weeks of winter. We did not have groundhogs on Oak Grove Ridge, but we had plenty of woodchucks. I figured that the smart woodchucks, or groundhogs, did not come out of their holes on February 2. They stayed in the warm sweet slumber of hibernation until at least April. Only the stupid or mentally retarded groundhogs would make an appearance in the dead of winter. It was the same with birds. We Scheckel kids were keen to spot the first robin, if only for bragging rights. And sure enough, sometime in early March the first shivering red-breasted feathery friend would be spotted on a fence post or electrical wire around the farmstead. All my siblings agreed that these were the dumbest robins that God put on Earth. The intelligent ones stayed down in Texas or at least southern Missouri for another three or four weeks. Even if it was snowing, we would see robins scratching the ground searching for seeds to eat.

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