Wednesday, April 17:
The high tunnel is dismantled and the spinach which has grown so well all winter is now enjoying unlimited sunshine and rainfall, and we will never, never be able to eat all of it. We hand friends plastic grocery bags and beg them to pick all they can use. We take spinach when we go visiting as a sort of spring-tonic hostess gift. We are beginning to turn green ourselves – at least, my fingernails never have time to lose their green stains between pickings – as we eat thick, succulent spinach salads at least once a day. There is no shortage of spinach, e-coli free.
Also in the garden the peas have begun to germinate, along with the buttercrunch lettuce, but the beets and onions and carrots are more coy; in our experience carrots and beets can be slow to germinate, and all three vegetables require steady moisture to break dormancy, moisture which, so far, meteorology has attended to. Even without tiny plants to mark the beds which have been sown – and, alas, the garden is liberally provided with tiny plants as millions of weed seeds pop up – it is evident to the casual eye which beds have been planted by the rolls of bent and rusty chicken wire and fence panel spread thereon; this to protect them from invading chickens and the young blue heeler whose antisocial habits would make any gypsy fortune teller get payment in advance and predict for him a short life.
In the pasture we find the grass coming in measurably each day, the green growing up through the old, brown stems so that a cow, with each bite, gets both fresh, young grass leaves and brown, fibrous leaves, automatically balancing her diet. This eliminates the need to provide hay or limit the animal’s time on the new pasture and prevents forage passing through her system too fast for the nutrients to be absorbed. Bridget the pony keeps the cows on edge just a little, contributing to the “herd effect” so important in a mob grazing model: an uneasy cow can be counted on to stomp plants it would otherwise walk around, increasing the amount of litter laid down in a paddock and reducing the competitive advantage of ungrazed weeds.