This winter has left those of us in New England especially hungry for spring, and we’re not alone. Four Storey authors from farms and ranches in the southeastern and western parts of the country revel in a new season (and some new arrivals).

Gail Damerow — Tennessee


Photo courtesy of Gail Damerow

Is winter finally over? I thought it would never end! We rarely have snow in our part of Tennessee, and when we do it typically lasts no more than two or three days. This winter we had several rounds of heavy snow, one of which lingered for more than two weeks. The roads were so hazardous we didn’t see mail delivery for more than a week. As we slogged through a winter that seemed to never end, we pretended spring was just around the corner.

In January we started our early, cool-season tomato seedlings under grow lights. In February we started our main-crop tomatoes, as well as peppers and herbs. When the ice and snow got us down, we just had to take a peek at our lovely green “plantation” to cheer up. Toward the end of February, in the midst of winter’s worst storm, our first chicks hatched. Nothing says spring like baby chicks! Unless it’s baby goats, which starting arriving in mid-March, and for once not on the coldest day of winter. Garden seedlings, peeping chicks, bouncing baby goats — hooray! Spring is here at last!

Heather Smith Thomas — Idaho

The weather is finally warming up, and our cows are due to start calving in a couple of weeks. Today we’ll be bringing the herd in from the field and sorting out the most urgently expectant mothers-to-be to put them in the maternity pen here by the house, where we can watch them more closely.

My grandchildren love calving time and are eager to see the new babies. They help with feeding and cattle chores whenever they are not in school. The youngest, Dani (now 10 years old), is very impatient and just can’t wait for the first calf to be born. She helped make our annual “calving calendar,” with expected due dates of all the mamas. We always put it on the wall, marking off each cow when she calves.

Here’s a picture of Dani with one of last year’s babies (since we don’t have any new ones yet this year!) that captures the delight of my littlest cowgirl.

Dani petting new calf

Photo courtesy of Heather Smith Thomas

Sue Weaver — Arkansas

Dodger and dog Harlan make excellent couch potatoes

Dodger and dog Harlan make excellent couch potatoes.
Photo courtesy of Sue Weaver

Springtime comes to the Ozarks — finally! Snow, ice, torrential rain, ankle-deep muck: we saw it all this winter and early spring. But it’s easy to forget winter’s woes as wildflowers pop from the ground and new life proliferates on neighboring farms.

I gaze longingly at our neighbor’s adorable hair sheep lambs and wish we had lambs of our own. However, we’ve taken a year off from breeding, so I must be content to wish and dream. We did, however, add one baby critter to our animal family in February: Dodger, a newborn MiniMancha dairy kid. We’ve house-trained quite a few bottle babies in the past, but they were mostly full-size breeds, so we moved them out with the herd as they matured. I’ve always wanted a full-time house goat. Now I have one.

Dodger is a wonderful student and was easily and reliably house-trained in less than a week. He was a trooper about ice and snow and has only objected to going out when it’s raining hard. So we draped over our dog grooming table in the yard, and when it’s raining, I scoop Dodger up, rush him to the tent, and boost him in. He does his business while I stand in the rain, then we race to the door. We’ll both be glad when spring’s frequent downpours cease for the year. Unlike Dodger, I prefer the rains to ice and deep, deep snow.

Cherry Hill and Richard Klimesh — Colorado

Hoof trimming

Hoof trimming is just one of the early spring activities on the ranch. Photo courtesy of Cherry Hill

We have been caring for some broodmares and retired geldings from KESA Quarter Horses on our ranch this winter. After some weeks of snow and below-zero temps, Richard and I took advantage of this warm Saturday in March to take care of some horsekeeping tasks. We jingled the horses, put them in a holding pen, and then one-by-one gave them attention: hoof trimming, mane and tail upkeep, and deworming.

Cherry Hill with horse

Photo courtesy of Cherry Hill

Gail Damerow

Gail Damerow has written extensively on raising chickens and other livestock, growing fruits and vegetables, and related rural know-how in more than a dozen books,… See Bio

Heather Smith Thomas

Heather Smith Thomas has written extensively on animal health care, authoring thousands of articles and 24 books on the subject. Her books include Storey’s Guide… See Bio

Sue Weaver

Sue Weaver has written hundreds of magazine articles and many books about livestock, horses, and chickens, including The Backyard Cow, The Backyard Goat, The Backyard… See Bio

Cherry Hill

Cherry Hill is an internationally known instructor and horse trainer and has written numerous books, including 101 Arena Exercises for Horse & Rider, Horsekeeping on… See Bio

Richard Klimesh

Richard Klimesh cares for five horses on a 70-acre horse facility in Colorado. He is a Certified Master Farrier, who has written hundreds of articles… See Bio

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