Mud Season

| 3/13/2017 10:45:00 AM

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In Wisconsin, they say we have four seasons—Summer, Winter, Deer Season, and Mud Season.  With the way things have been going, this year may see most of winter consumed by Mud Season.  Freeze and thaw, freeze and thaw, with the snow not sticking around.  It makes for a real challenge on the farm.

Hard winters certainly have their hairy moments—frozen water buckets, endless shoveling, and the need to bundle up with 20 extra pounds of gear just to stay warm enough to get through chores.  But the extreme cold of an “old fashioned” Wisconsin winter has its advantages too, including keeping the apple trees dormant longer so that they don’t bloom too early and the flowers freeze, garden pests that can’t take the cold die off, and the frozen ground allows us to drive farm equipment for bigger chore jobs without getting stuck.

But mud season, well, there’s just no way around it.  It’s a mess.  The gathering mud sucks at my boots, drags at my sled or wagon filled with fodder and feed, and pulls our little car around on the twisting, soft lane.  The compost and manure piles wake up too—there’s no mistaking that mud season has its own farmy perfumes.

In the depths of a real winter, the bedding packs in barns and coops stays frozen, waiting for a spring cleaning.  This year, it freezes, then thaws (turning damp and soggy), then freezes again.  While I used to be able to clean out the coop twice in a winter, this year I’m out shoveling every month with another thawed, rainy spell.  Rain every month this year—not normal folks.

Early road bans are a clear indication of the “not normal” status of this winter.  On a farm, these weight restrictions have immediate impact with critical deliveries, especially feed.  Even if they’re not loaded to capacity, the fed trucks aren’t allowed to traverse the country roads, which means that we either have to meet them somewhere and transfer the order in several trips, or they arrive with smaller loads in a pickup, which means more running around for everyone—let alone trying not to get stuck on the gravel lane!

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