Even when the weather was fair, the same gray landscape greeted me on the way to the barn each morning. Then one day a purple crocus was sticking up where there was only brown grass the day before.

The signs of spring were late, but unmistakable. At the beginning of April, the grass was starting to green-up. By the end of the second week daffodils were up and the trees were putting out their first leaves. The temperature was warm enough that first weekend to begin clearing brush along the southern fence line. I’ve wanted to clear this area for years, so horses could ride through more easily. The runoff from all the back fields ends up in a small pond in the southeast corner. After clearing away the brush, Chris and I were able to harvest quite a lot of stone in and around the pond. It was enough to finish the stone wall along the sidewalk at the front of the house – completing a project I had been working on for a few years.

Point to Point Races

The annual point-to-point races for many of the local Hunts occur in the early Spring, while the temperature is still cool. The Loudoun Hunt races were at the Oatlands Plantation, on April 13th.

Big Burn

In the southeast paddock was a timber pile created when we started the farm in 2004. The timber and brush from clearing the south aisle was added to that, and April 19th we had the big burn. After attaching a 100 foot hose to the nearest water hydrant, and notifying the fire department, we started the bonfire. It blazed from 5 o’clock until after 10,  then settled into a red hot pile of charcoal. At 1 a.m. I raked the remaining embers into a neat pile at the center of the clearing, and mentally checked-off that ten-year-old item from my to-do list.

Planting

The first planting in the kitchen garden were the spring lettuce, spinach and some garlic, added during a warm spell in February. I added a few other vegetable seeds, but they didn’t germinate, probably due to the cold.  The first substantive planting was in mid-May when we put in Tomatoes, Basil, Peppers and Onions. The emphasis this year was on vegetable staples that we can store. So there were no peas or beans. Given the late planting, they would not have done well anyway.

In preparation for planting, I added sand the to soil while tilling each bed. The original clay soil has improved greatly over the years, and the same lightens it and will improve drainage. My number one ambition was to produce another big harvest  of sweet potatoes. For that to happen, I would have to deer-proof the garden.

In late May and June, I used many of my weekend hours reinforcing the fence and covering all openings with 2×4 wire. In addition to deterring deer, the modified fence should keep out dogs and chickens, and maybe the cats too. I planted the sweet potatoes on June 7th, and completed the fence modifications the next day.

The weather has been remarkably cooperative, if a little excessive. Thunderstorms occurred throughout the weekdays in June, with sun on the weekends. The abundant rain has been great for the trees and garden.