More and more dirt is visible between the shrinking patches of snow - but for how long I don't know. I'm sure winter isn't done with us yet, and I'm glad, too. The last two winters were extremely dry, so it's nice to see these series of storms come through regularly. My fall-seeded arugula has sprouted under the snow, and with a bit of sun the tiny plants are starting to turn green. I've got wire over it, hoping the quail won't find it for a while yet. Last year's leeks are still in fine shape, except that some of the chickens have found them, and have been munching on the tops a bit (more wire keeps them from digging them up completely). The walking onions are starting to send up some green sprouts too, but no garlic, shallots, or spinach visible yet.
I'm sure the stresses of the dry past two winters contributed to my losing a nectarine tree to borers last year. I'm still waiting to see if my pie cherry tree can recover, but haven't had to worry about trying to get water to my trees this winter. Now, if only the cold weather will stay until real spring comes. February warm spells followed by May snowstorms are all too common around here, making a fruit harvest an iffy project every year.
Inside the house, the small batch of apple cider is still fermenting. I didn't add any sugar to this batch, since it's destined for the vinegar jar, but the apples had softened and sweetened in storage - fruit sugars now still feeding the bit of yeast I added.
Outside, a bit of sun this morning and temperatures above freezing led me to think I might be able to get some sheets to dry out on the clothesline. By afternoon, I've lost the sun, but they still might dry. The chickens come running when I step out onto the deck to go see if I can bring the sheets in - she might have food!
The sheets are still damp, but I do throw a few handfuls of corn out for the chickens. More and more of them are starting to resume laying eggs as the days lengthen. Eating corn helps them stay warm at night in our unheated coop, but I want them to start eating more of the laying crumbles. Three eggs in the nest boxes today, plus a fourth they broke. I've got eggshells saved up in a jar in the house - I'll have to get them crushed up and start feeding them back to the birds. Earlier this morning I saw one of Missy's girls standing in the doorway of the old doghouse under the black walnut tree. Missy, now gone, was a notorious nest hider, and passed that trait on to some of her offspring. So I look inside the doghouse, and sure enough, there's a fresh green-shelled egg (we had an Amerucana rooster for a while) lying on the floor. I'll have to start checking in there regularly now too, I guess.