An Inverted Spring
This is certainly a crazy spring – all over the midwest (& perhaps elsewhere) – mainly that the “normal” weather of March & April were reversed. I kept thinking that I wanted the weather in March to cool down and then in April, I wanted it warmer. So what’s the big deal? It will all even out in the end, right?
Maybe. Some of the ways it is affecting us:
* our fruit trees flowered about a month earlier than usual; at blossom time, we all worried that frost would get all/most of the fruit. It did and didn’t. Frost killed off some of the fruit – notably the saskatoon berries, and some of the pears, but it does not appear to have hurt the rest of our orchard: peaches, cherries, apples. My friend Dan Kelly who has a 5 acre apple orchard reported that the apples on the lower third of his orchard froze – but that’s ok, because otherwise he might have had too much fruit to deal with anyway (abundance can be a hardship). BUT we are still wondering – how will this turn out? will we be harvesting fruit a month earlier? or?
* It was interesting for me to watch our gardeners: due to the very warm March weather, they wanted to get everything going early – but hesitated because we all wondered whether to trust the apparently early spring. Anyway, they did get a lot of the beds prepared and many crops planted early. The cool rainy April has not adversely affected these crops. However, we did have an aphid problem – especially with the seedlings in the greenhouse. The aphids were bad enough that we actually purchased some lady bugs through the mail – first time in my 32 years here. (Although I remember that some 20-30 years ago, I had to replant several fields of sorghum due to aphid pressure. The local county extension agent explained to me that the lady bugs migrate up this way in May-June from the southwest – so when I replanted the crop and the plants were big enough to attract the aphids, the lady bugs had arrived as well and a healthy balance was established).
* bees. We have 20 bee hives – they loved this last winter; it was mild with enough warm days for them to fly out of the hive to “eliminate”. Further, the early spring suited them just fine: they got pollen from the early flowering trees, the queens laid eggs, and they flourished – ie, they built up populations in anticipation of honey flows. Then the weather changed – cooled off: it seemed that the bees were still in the GO GO GO energy cycle. They kept building up population and NOW: strangely, they are running out of honey. what? how did that happen? I called it “building up population” – the reason they build up population is to take advantage of the “honey flow” (usually mid-June to end of August). But that comes at a cost: it takes a lot of pollen, honey, and bee energy to raise more bees. For comparison, think of how much energy we humans put into our progeny: years and years of it. In a beehive, they increase their population from about a thousand in February/March to about 30,000 in July. Yikes! – it takes a lot of resources; in this case, that translates to honey & pollen. Early spring flowers are rich in pollen, not so much nectar. When we visited our bees last week, they had sufficient pollen, but some had very little honey. It bummed me out to the extent that a few days later, I poured some raw organic sugar into 4 hives – if they need to, they can convert the sugar to feed themselves and their brood.
*My psyche. Here I/we are: living the idyllic country life – hilly terrain, plenty of woods, wildflowers, etc all around. there is a certain “natural order” that we assume in our daily/yearly rhythms. BUT now it’s OFF! The cycle is a month early. WAIT – where am I? how did I get here? I had planned a month of slowing down/reading/contemplation/etc etc. Where did that time go? Does this mean the end times are even closer? (NOT!, I am a total skeptic of “end times” thinking….). You get it – it is disorienting for me/us….
*** Note: you may notice that I use I & we interchangeably and/or confusingly. It is because it is “I” that is writing; however, I am a member of a commune – I think that most of us in communes have at least 2 personalities: the individual & the group.
**** feedback welcome