The south hill pasture is much too wet to turn out on it anything heavier than the chickens, and they have been confined to quarters to keep them from stealing nests; we want to get a headcount of who is laying. In the high clearing the grass is coming through, too;you can see the green even from the road. We’ll have to climb up there to determine how much of the green is grass, and how much is the May-apple and riverweed we are trying to suppress. With direct sun falling on ground that was, until now, shaded by tall trees, the grass should get the advantage, and we will either pasture the steers up there, or take up a weedeater to clip off undesirable growth. The south hill pasture will take longer to dry, partly because it is a north-facing slope, but mostly because of all the runoff that comes down that part of the hill.
Very late, we have finally mailed off the soil samples from the pasture and haymeadows. This is a first for us; we have never had the soil tested before. We are actually planning to have the fields limed, if our finances allow, and if the stability of the spreader allows it safely to traverse our tippy fields. This seems almost to mark an epoch in our farming; we had not imagined ourselves putting cash — a thing of which we have adequate, but not ample, supply — into something so (to us) speculative as the improvement of our soil. Compost and manure we spread when we can, but to hire a spreader and buy aglime for spreading is an investment of a different sort. We hope the results of the tests, when they arrive, don’t come with a skull and crossbones on the envelope and “get out while you can” in the space reserved for expert advice. That these acidic, stony slopes are not ideal for farming is no news, but we do hope they aren’t irremediable. On the other hand, even should the advice be ever so discouraging, this place is ours, and we will undoubtedly go right on pouring our blood and sweat into it no matter what the test results tell us.
The banks in front of the house are the only sunny spot on the farm, the clear yellow of daffodils almost making up for the lack of real sunshine. We have stopped counting them, there are so many open now, and even bent over in the dripping rain they have a look of advancing spring. It is a good thing they do, because the cold is retarding the growth of the seedlings in the greenhouse, which depends upon sunlight to warm it, and is consequently about as cozy as a mausoleum just now. The tiny tomato plants look reproachful, their willingness to perform being thwarted by the obstinacy of an upper Ohio Valley spring. In the basement things are slow as well, despite the warmth of the fires we are still too cold to let go out; most of the pots sown with peppers are down there for warmth, with nary a sign that they will ever sprout. Only the peeps of contented turkey poults alleviates the doldrums down there.