First Signs

Here in the north, we eagerly anticipate the first signs of spring. For those of us that live on the northern plains of Wyoming, the signs follow each other closely and then one day … it is finally Spring. What are the first signs of spring where you live??

The very first sign of spring here is seeing spring flowers for sale in the store … tulips, daffodils, etc. They arrive long before our own bedded bulbs get brave enough to poke up through the soil. However, the Buttercups just can’t wait for warmer weather. They’re content to bloom with a dusting of snow as a backdrop. The Canada Geese are the very first harbingers of hope in our area. They arrive at just about the same time the creeks begin to thaw and appear.

Our creek completely disappeared this past winter under several feet of snow. I love to say that word past. We had more snow this winter than we’ve ever received. Last week the creek out back returned to being running water. The good thing is the snow disappeared into the earth and it will soon turn everything green.

My little garden yard was completely covered in snow … 4-5 feet deep. The headboard in the garden tank was barely visible. I bought seeds the other day and I’m so looking forward to getting my hands in the dirt. I’m also on the look-out for bulbs I planted last fall. I’m grieving the loss of a beautiful little Alberta Spruce that I planted last spring. She’s mostly brown. I won’t dig the tree up just yet. Is there hope that it will bounce back? Doesn’t look like it at the moment.

I have to say that this is the ugliest time of year. All the world is dirty and dead looking. But, as of this morning, I noted that that the first leaves of several flowers have appeared: Iris, Poppy, Butter & Eggs. It looks like the Currant bush and Canadian Red Chokecherry survived their first winter here – as did other creeping Junipers and a Mugo Pine. The blue Juniper was nearly denuded by deer before I noticed it. I wrapped it in chicken wire and although it looks tough, it is alive. My flower bed is the first landscaping project I’ve undertaken in the 17 years we’ve lived here. I just didn’t think it was worth the struggle. But, I was starved for greenery and decided that a garden and landscaping would be worth it after all. I was spoiled by having lived in much more temperate places. Northern Wyoming has many benefits, but “temperate” is not one of them. I knew gardening would be an uphill fight, but last spring I dove in, dug a hole four feet deep x 12 x 14 and filled it with homemade soil: a little sand, and lot of very old barnyard “gold”. I figured on losing some perennials and trees over the winter, but I’m determined to have a little Eden of my own!! I chose what are said to be tough plants in this climate. I’ll soon see just how tough they were.

My knee surgery went very well and I’m growing more confident every day about being able to do the many things that lay ahead of me: cleaning the

chicken house, raking everywhere and riding.

We’ll soon be calving and I thought I wouldn’t be able to ride until maybe the end of this month. But, my knee is doing so well that I know I’ll be able to ride. I’ll call it physical therapy. Here is my husband last year at this time.

We were well into calving season when a spring squall blew through. We lost a couple of calves, but the rest of them were just fine. Their mamas tuck them into the sagebrush and lay or stand near them.

My young mare, Ribbon, will get much more education this year. She’s now four and ready for real work. I haven’t tidied her up yet due to my knee surgery, but that will happen soon. Lots of brushing, trimming her hairy fetlocks, bridle path and that long hair under the chin. Oh how the horses love to be groomed this time of year. They’re itchy and wanting to be rid of all that dead hair.

Ribbon will get to follow in her auntie’s hoof prints when we move pairs later on in the spring. Moving cow/calf pairs is my favorite ranch chore. The work takes me outside for extended periods of time and while we work, I get to enjoy all the sights and sounds of spring on the plains. The Meadowlark’s song is so uplifting. Seeing Bluebirds on the fence line is a thrill <for me>. The surest sign that wildflowers are soon to arrive is seeing Lark Buntings flitting about. They are the last birds to come back.

On other fronts, my MaryJanesFarm sisterhood chapter is planning a “spring fling” craft show in a couple of weeks. I’m making jewelry and some sewn items. The other gals are making: soap, baskets, paper art, knitted and crocheted items, bird houses, and we’re going to put some “junktiques” in the mix also. It’ll be fun.

I can already feel the pressure of having too many things to do. But, that’s what we wait for all winter I guess … a return to “normal”.

So, what is on your spring agenda? Spring house cleaning is on deck here. Also, I have three pieces of antique furniture I want to refinish. Then, finishing the porch and patio we started last fall – it will hopefully be done by midsummer. I need to oil the barn board trim we put on the house too. Boy, now I’m really feeling the pressure having reviewed the to-do list. Well, one thing at a time and sooner or later it will look like I’m making progress. I’m so looking forward to going to my favorite greenhouses! One of the first green goodies I’m going to treat myself to is a big pot of pansies. That’ll get me by until it is safe to plant things outside in mid-May. How about you?

Leave a comment 21 Comments

  1. Liz says:

    The meadowlarks are back, the bluebirds are checking out their houses and I heard frogs croaking somewhere west of Upton today. Whew, I feel like we can breathe again. Welcome, Spring!

  2. Grace~katmom says:

    Hmmm, 1st signs of Spring around here on the West Plains of Spokane…well let’s see, we had 3 rounds of hail today, a thunder & lightning show and I just looked outside to see about an inch of snow on the deck….Spring,,,not here, not yet! but soon…I hope! lol!

  3. Debbie says:

    Happy Spring Shery!
    I’m with ya on this being the ( ugly ) time of year… the trees (and they are plentiful here) still look bare. You have to get up real close to see the buds… a sure sign of spring. I noticed the first delivery of plants and mulch for sale at our local grocery store yesterday. Another sign… here at home and around the yard my crocus are up and the forsythia is about to bloom…there are other signs as well… small green shoots are coming up in my flower beds… and we are in fresh eggs again! The girls are back to one egg a day!
    So enjoyed your tour of spring on the ranch…
    You’ll be back in the saddle in no time!
    Deb

  4. Patricia Wehner says:

    Well…..we live in Texas – in about February the heat makes an appearance….if the bluebonnets weren’t so gorgeous we wouldn’t know we had spring. Here it’s hot, hotter and blazing.

  5. marci says:

    Here in Cheney, I know winter is coming to an end when the geese come back. They nest on the wetlands behind our home. It is great to hear the other birds sing again (I don’t think geese honking is much of a song!). Then the baby calfs are born and the buttercups bloom. Spring is always unpredictable weather, so I wait until Mother’s Day to plant my garden.

  6. Deb says:

    Here in Punxsutawney, Pa Puxsy Phil predicted an early spring-I’m not too sure about that. I could have cried seeing snow again this week! But it didn’t last and the robins are looking for worms. Hope springs eternal!

  7. Sarah Beth says:

    I love the red and white enamel pitcher! I collect it and it always catches my eye!

  8. Gerilynne says:

    Here in very northern Minnesota, there aren’t many signs of spring yet, except that it is finally above freezing. I’ve been able to get out and ride a few times since the snow has melted some, and I have a kid crop on the ground and their lower pen finally has some dry areas. Can’t wait to start gardening!

  9. Joan says:

    Oh Shery, have you been sneaking a peak into my ‘life’? I’m out here on the plains, can get snowies as late as June. But this year I have done something I said I’d NEVER do – gave up on having a lush grassy yard, we are required to keep the erosion down and just rock is not my thing, so I did turf, green all year type of product, not really settled into LOVING it but it serves the purpose. Now I have more time for the gardening, flowers and veg’s, crafts, antiquing, and most of all for the grandchildren. So thank you for helping me to get my see a bit into your ‘to do’ list and sure wish you luck with the craft sale – sounds like great fun. Take care of your knee. God Bless.

  10. bonnie ellis says:

    Shery: I am so happy for you that your knee is recovering so well. But from one who knows, let it heal really well. Don’t overdo quite yet. But happy spring! All of us northern farmgirls deserve a great spring after this 10 month winter (lol). Happy trails too. Bonnie

  11. TJ says:

    This is the time of year when I’m hanging on by my fingernails for signs of spring in Montana! One of my favorite scriptures keeps coming to mind, as I stare out the window at the snow drifting into the blooming forsythia:

    "As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My Word that goes out from My Mouth: it will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

    "You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thornbrush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign which will not be destroyed." Isaiah 55:10-13

    Hope your knee has you feeling like a frisky calf again soon, and Spring comes faster than all that old winter hair coming off our horses! Take care!!

  12. Rebecca says:

    I’m in northern New England. The distinctive smell of skunk is our first hint that spring is just around the corner. Then the snowdrops timid heads appear barely higher than the mulch in the flower bed. But we know spring is really, truly here for good when we hear choruses of "peepers".
    Happy, happy spring!

  13. Becky J says:

    Here in Alabama it feels like spring has come & gone. Expecting record high temps this weekend (mid 80’s). But back a couple of months ago I knew spring was just around the corner when I saw some daffodil leaves peaking thru 2 inches of quite unexpected & rare snow. Then the robins came & ate all the berries off my holly tree. Now we’re just waiting for the hay fields to get a little taller & the work begins. Nothing like riding around in circles in the hay fields knowing our cows will eat good this winter.

  14. Juanita says:

    Hi Shery
    I do hope you will not over due the knee, Take care of it.
    I know how you are itching to get out in the open and do some of the things you want to do. Sounds as though your list is coming along. You will get it done and more too. This is a sure sign of Spring for me. Lists.
    I live in Virginia, on the Eastern Shore along the Atlantic coast on the little peninsula between the Atlantic and the Chesapeake Bay. The little finger that sticks off of Maryland. Our signs of Spring is daffodils and Bradford Pear Trees blooming and crocus peeping through the snow. Soon the Dogwoods will be showing their beauty, in fact they are getting ready to bloom in the front yard.
    I too am getting ready for my garden. I went to a friends house for some horse manure, she boards and teaches riding. She lets me have the manure and I usually fix her some hot Rolls. It is great for the garden the manure, I mean lol
    Shery, I really enjoy your Blog and look forward to reading about your ranch. Hugs from a farm sister to you all. Juanita

  15. terces says:

    I have a BIG and BUSY life with owning 8 restaurants and my husband and I farming growing food for them, AND I never skip reading your blog! I so enjoy you, your viewpoint, photography and wisdom. we will be calving our first cows this summer and am so excited! Spring here are daffodils, paper whites, lavender, and fruit tree blossoms!
    thank you for your sweet sharing!
    love, Terces

  16. Brenda says:

    The snow has finally almost disappeared here. I have been out walking about with the grands this past week and wanting to start working on the flower beds but know from years past that it is too soon to uncover them. I have to be patient a little longer so they do not get frozen during our cold nights. The chickens have been out of the hen house enjoying the sun and digging up the dirt and taking some dirt baths. I do not plant bulbs, they always get chewed up here by the little underground critters. But I do plant a big wire planter with pansies and violets as soon as they show up at the greenhouses. Your bear is so country sweet! Welcome spring, it seemed a long time coming this year!

  17. Jan says:

    Shery, Glad to hear that your knee is healing nicely! First signs of Spring here in KS would be the pretty early spring flowers. We had a snow about a week or so ago and today it is in the upper 80’s! I am hoping we get a spring and don’t just jump into summer. I loved the picture or your horse Ribbon, she is very pretty.

  18. Nicole Christensen says:

    Shery, Glad to hear your surgery went well, and hope you are 100% soon! I agree that it is an "ugly" time of year, especially with all the salt and dirty sand left on the streets from the snowplows. However, your picture of the plains and sky with the clouds is breathtaking! Hugs, your fellow blogger, Nicole, Suburban Farmgirl

  19. Kate says:

    Hi Shery! I am fairly new to MaryJane and all of her wonderful friends. Where are you in Wyoming? WE live in Fort Collins now, but we will be resettling to Harriman, WYO (about midway between Laramie and Cheyenne) in mid May. A fantastic home with an incredible view and 10 acres; perfect for us. Spring here in FC is of course the first crocuses (croci?) and how the trees have leaves overnight…..all that and the first rue sign: I start sneezing.
    Thanks…happy Spring
    Kate

  20. cora jo ciampi says:

    Sheri…well, my neighbor came out…and he doesn’t all winter…so, we KNOW it is Spring here! He takes very good care of his lawn and I try to fill mine with edible things. Drives him nuts, I know. We laugh over it. Good neighbors are so important. My daffodiles are trying hard to bloom and I see buds on my lilacs. My spirit gets so excited at this time of year. Yearning to get into the dirt. Our off-grid kids figured out a shower with a tankless water heater and pump and solar panel or generator…love it. You bring so much to my mind, my friend…like those northern Wyoming Springs.

  21. Amanda says:

    Brrrr looks chilly! Spring isn’t a whole lot different than winter where I am – a bit warmer mixed with a little rain. So jealous of your bed in your flower bed- I’ve been on the hunt for a bed like that but can’t seem to find one anywhere- well at least one at a reasonable price.
    I always look forward to your new post.

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