Sunday, July 14, 2024
Chris Judd

Spring?

Sparrows don’t usually begin to nest in our valley until March, but on Feb. 12 there was a pair on our porch. Dad always told me that seeing a sparrow was a sign of spring. In many books, including the Bible, the sight of a sparrow is a sign of good luck and promise of a good year ahead. I often think of what a wonderful GPS little birds have to guide them from a tree in South America to the same barn loft every year to build their nest in.
When we look in the fields, we don’t see very much snow. Old farmers like to see a good snow cover in the spring to protect the clover and alfalfa roots from being broken off by the soil heaving, caused by freezing and thawing while we see winter change to spring. Alfalfa roots go down many feet into the soil, and when the freezing heaves the topsoil, some alfalfa roots will snap off because the root cannot stretch. A farmer’s most productive soils (loam) are most prone to heaving because of their great water-holding capacity. We notice each spring on roads which go over loam soil and heave, except where a culvert or water line crosses under the road and sand, gravel or some soil other than loam was used to backfill the trench. Each spring this bump across the road will look like it fell down when it didn’t heave up as much as the surrounding loam soil did.
An old farming friend of mine that I talked to a week ago was quite concerned that we had not received enough snow or rain to prepare for the spring and summer ahead. The western provinces are already preparing for a year when wildfires will be worse than those of 2023 which burnt millions of acres of forest and many homes and towns. Western Canadian grain farmers are preparing for a very dry year. Many farmers now practice reduced or minimum tillage to conserve as much soil-water as possible. Crop residue and manure are broken down by those millions of soil bacteria to improve soil organic matter which improves water-holding capacity and reduces wind and water erosion! Soil is our number one asset because everything that we eat originated from that thin cover of topsoil which covers only a small percentage of our planet. When I watch grain storage elevators which hold millions of tons of grain that could feed billions of people being destroyed by bombing, I wonder, “what religion does that person practice?”
Maybe the sparrows are wrong. It does seem early for spring but where do the little birds get their info? Spring is close and increases in food costs, fuel costs (which is the largest contributor to increased food costs), housing costs, and everything else is adding to the stress level of people on this planet. This increase in stress quickly leads to mental fatigue and even thoughts of suicide. No matter how busy we are we must take a few minutes to walk around the block, read a book, talk to our kids, speak to our neighbours who also live in the same stressful times, and think about how lucky we are to be where we are. Most of us don’t realize how valuable we are to someone when we just take a minute to listen to them. Time is the most precious gift to give someone who thinks that they are the only one in this mess. An old farmer friend of mine, Roly, once told me, “No matter what the government does to you, remember that the best will survive.”

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