Spring comes to Gas Valley

Yesterday Miss T texted us a photo of The Favorite, one of our young grandsons. In his pajamas, The Favorite was seated on the grass in a corner of a temporary pen for their young chickens, reading to them from a storybook.

“It makes sense to me. Chickens can’t read,” explained Seed (his father, our son.)

These were not their laying hens, though they will be when grown. These were the young pullets that Seed and Miss T brought home from Rural King as fuzzy chicks three weeks ago. They’ve feathered out, losing most of their fuzz already.

In the photo, they seemed to be paying attention to The Favorite as he reads to them.

Spring chicks are the season personified, as are yellow daffodils, platoons of robins skirmishing across greening lawns, and spring peepers making a racket down in the bottom. Spring has come upon Gas Valley in full force, filling our senses and lifting our spirits. In spring, there is hope, and all things seem possible.

“IT RAINED REALLY HARD a little while ago. Did you hear it?” Honey asked when I got out of bed this morning.

I had not. One of the advantages of being stone deaf in one ear is that I can turn that ear to the world and the good ear to the pillow, and sleep through anything. I did not have long to wait to witness a hard rain, however. There were two or three more during the day as I was working in the barn. They were true spring rains, with no thunder and lightning, but with spectacular downpours and violent wind gusts that rattled loose siding boards and slammed shut a door I forgot to prop open.

Coming back home, I saw Patty’s water was rushing like a creek down our driveway where it meets Gas Valley Road. In bad storms, Patty’s water used to worsh (wash) the slag out of our road right down to the bare clay, but that was before I bricked the ruts of my entire 1,500-foot driveway, a feat widely recognized as a miracle of engineering and persistence. Now when Patty’s water flows it does no harm.

Honey is the one who made the intuitive leap of logic to call storm runoff in this spot “Patty’s water” because the water drains down from the vicinity of Patty’s house. Bob lives there, too, but the house always belongs to the woman. It’s Patty’s house, so it must also be Patty’s water.

Today’s storms caused the little creek that runs through our lawn to escape its banks and clog culvert pipes with dead leaves. With the little creek turned into a gushing torrent, the pond down in the bottom quickly overflowed the emergency spillway, something that happens only every few years.

SO MUCH FOR clear days and March winds drying out the gardens for plowing. At a yard sale last fall I bought a new box cultivator attachment for the tractor, and I’ve been itching to try it out.

The gardens – both pumpkin and vegetable – should produce better this year, thanks to tons of horse manure hauled and spread on them last fall by the Johnstons, Gas Valley neighbors who have thoroughbred race horses. I hope to repay them in sweet corn, tomatoes, new potatoes and such. My potatoes were a disaster last year, but I won’t have to buy seed potatoes because another Gas Valley neighbor, Swartzy, gave me bushels of them last fall. Those that were left have kept well in the old springhouse that I renovated a couple of years ago for a fruit cellar.

Honey is doing her part to get ready for the garden, starting vegetables and flowers inside the house. Seed flats are on tables in front of the picture windows, under fluorescent grow lights.

Yesterday she called happily to me to come see. “Cabbage is up already!” she said.

Dutifully I came to look at the tiny, threadlike sprouts that had emerged from the Miracle-Gro potting mix. “Wonderful!” I said, or words to that effect.

As of today, zinnas, red cabbage, broccoli, green peppers, Brussel sprouts and vinca are up, too. She hasn’t started tomatoes yet. It’s a little early.

I really want the garden to do well this year because we don’t know what the coming months will bring. We are hopeful that by summer, life will return to some semblance of normal, and so now we are doing normal spring things. . .

. . .Spring things which from now on, I suppose, may include reading to chickens.


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