Saturday, April 20: 

   Thursday the violets began blooming.  They spill down the creek banks like pools of purple paint, and on the hill below the bee hives they assault at eye-level, like the hanging gardens of Babylon in miniature.  Wild cherry trees illuminate the woods, lanterns soon to be extinguished by a mist of new leaves, and bloodroot on south facing slopes burns each with its individual flame.  Modest spring beauties bow their heads among the winter litter on the forest floor.  Spring here in the Beautiful valley is so intensely alive that every moment seems to open upon us some new life.

   We are stretched taut by the sudden onset of our spring labors.  Our hours are like the appointment book of a doctor we once knew, four things to every quarter hour and no way to attend to them all; like the people in his waiting room our jobs sit, some patient, some visibly deteriorating, as we rush about trying not to forget anything.  Sometimes, like that doctor, we just sneak out the back door and take a little break; this evening it was a glorious Messiah at the university Shawn blesses with his presence.

   Four new water hogs are mostly clean, but we cannot hook them into the water system until they are completely free of paste flakes.  That will be a job for someone, soon.  The hens are finally laying reasonably well; this is the season for indulging in sponge cake.  We have the promise of five ewes and a ram in four weeks time; by then the grass will be knee-high, and the little girls, free from the task of feeding bucket calves, can take on the job of shifting sheep paddocks daily.