This is my first New York winter, and everybody warned me before I moved here. It would be snow-filled, isolating, and interminable. I don’t think it was a terrible as anybody said it would be, but it does come with a certain feeling of endlessness. But now, it actually is ending, and the signs are everywhere.
We have a new slogan on the farm right now: Embrace the Fear. Everyone here can feel it. We have broiler chickens coming on Wednesday morning. Sam and Brooke rushed to build a brooder coop for them, and it’s beautiful, but Monday and Tuesday they will have their hands full putting finishing touches on it—setting up plumbing and lights to keep those little lives toasty.
Monday night, we’re going to wait until after dark and the laying hens are roosting to move them from their winter home in the hoophouse into their mobile coop. Chickens are hard to catch when they’re awake, but they are complacent when sleeping. They tend not to put up much up a fight when grabbed from their roost, just a mildly irritated, confused cooing. They will move to their old spot on the compost heap, and we’ll clear out the hoophouse on Tuesday. We’ll open up the side walls and doors, do some cleaning, and get the hoophouse ready to go for our first seeding of the season on Friday. Which feels very, very hard to believe.
The unbeatable cotyledons of spinach have pushed up in the movable hoophouse by the vegetable fields. Another true sign of spring’s arrival is the maple syrup we boiled down this weekend, light, sticky, and filling up jars. The seeds have arrived from Johnny’s and Fedco, the seed fridge is packed full, and the germination chamber is ready to go.
So we’re embracing the fear. Spring is full of beautiful promise, and I can already see and feel the effect of two sunny, weekend days. But it is also a big leap into challenges and states that we can’t know. Will it rain? Will weasels wreak havoc on our broiler chickens? Will our cows calve easily? Will all the farmers be okay—happy, content, safe, productive, healthy, fulfilled? We do know that there will be setbacks as well as success. Not knowing what those will be is the name of the game as well as the origin of fear. So what do we do? We give the whole thing a big, terrified, hug.