The pussy willows are out!

Willows are one of the first plants to show any signs of life in the spring. Even with mounds of snow on their roots, they still seem to be able to sense that it is time to awaken for another season.

With the warm temperatures that we have had recently, it is very easy to wish that something green would just pop up. And in good time it will, but for now it is best to keep the perennials under wraps.

You see, it isn’t the 40 below in January that will kill a perennial, but the minus five in March that penetrates to the very roots, when there is no snow cover, that does it. This freeze/melt cycle is even more troublesome in areas that have warm spells mid-winter, like we have here in the Yukon.

I have a gardening friend who told me that when the snow first falls in early winter he goes out and shovels piles of it on top of his perennials and then packs it down as hard as he can. In this way the snow cover is less likely to melt during a warm spell.

This prevents the plants from “thinking” that it is safe to emerge and end up freezing when things return to winter. This time of year is the most dangerous for winter kill to happen.

It is also one of the most exciting times on a farm. Hens start to lay eggs (if they’ve stopped for the winter), new livestock is born and plants start to sprout.

Sometimes we will start to have “broody” hens. These birds prefer to sit on a clutch of eggs instead of running around looking for bugs or grain. While allowing a hen to sit on the eggs would give us new chicks, it does stop the production of eggs. This is why we have the chickens in the first place.

The geese are also just starting to lay eggs. They haven’t really become “broody” yet. But when they do, I think that it would be fun to allow them to try and hatch some eggs. New goslings are so fun to have.

Easter is also a time of new birth. One way this was celebrated traditionally was in the decoration of Easter eggs. These were given away as Easter gifts. Ukrainian Easter eggs or Psanky are a work of art that has come out of this tradition.

Each colour and design had it’s own meaning. But symbolism or not, they are another beautiful sign of spring.