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Friday, March 15, 2013

Spring fever strikes again

Sometimes Spring chooses a sunny day in which to step out of the forest and survey the land. She gathers her skirts as she vaults over the fence and lands with a bounce onto the moist earth. Her garments fan out over the field, melting snow and ice and uncovering dormant grasses and moss. Then she rests, turning her face to the sun, watching it kiss every branch on every tree, coaxing buds out of hiding.

Other times Spring slinks in less obviously, under cloud cover and rain. It's not as easy to tell when Spring has arrived in this case. Unless, of course, you watch the animals.

Animals always seem to know when something is going to happen weather-wise. And they get very excited about Spring. We slept in a bit the day the clocks sprung forward into daylight savings time. I was mixing up a batch of buckwheat pancakes and the Farmer was lounging, finishing the last chapter of his book. He stepped out the back door to spread the woodstove ashes on the sleeping garden when he spotted the cows, two fields back.

"The girls have decided today would be a good day to take a walk," he announced. "I'd better go turn that electric fence back on." The high-voltage Gallagher had been off for a few months because the weight of snow and ice just causes it to short out, and the cattle never venture far afield when wandering involves picking their way through snow up to their hips. They must be able to smell the earth peeking through the melting snow, because today they are on walk-about.

The Farmer went out to the barn and turned on the electric fence that he had recently spent half a day repairing. One of our calves stepped on it and snapped it last week as she climbed over the rail fence into the neighbour's yard in search of something new to eat. They are getting tired of hay. Within ten minutes of switching on the electricity, the cows could be seen jogging up the field. "One of them must have put her wet nose on the wire," the Farmer decided. "Fence works."

Meanwhile, as he was tending to the cows, I laid strips of bacon in the pan and turned the oven on. Just then something caught my attention out the window. The horse was on the front lawn, nibbling recently uncovered plants in my perennial flowerbed. I grabbed jacket and boots and darted out the front door.

Misty took off down the driveway and made a hard right at the tractor lane, digging up chunks of earth with her dinner-plate hooves. Donkey followed hot on her heels to the barnyard gate, which they found firmly locked and frozen into the ground. Much snorting ensued.

"So you run out of the barnyard, tear things up and then try to get back in. What are you doing?" Misty then took off through the bushes, gathering speed. She wasn't even hungry this time. Her hay feeder was full. She just saw an exit and decided to use it. Boredom and mischief are sure signs of spring fever.

Misty ran back through the shed and the open door, but Donkey continued to try getting through the barnyard gate. His horse-friend arrived on the inside, visibly upset that she had left her donkey on the outside. I actually thought she might try to jump the fence, she was so frustrated, snorting and running in circles. The Farmer tried, unsuccessfully, to bust the gate free of the ice. I circled Donkey to chase him back up to the house, where the Farmer had already closed the escape gate.

Confused, Donkey went to the garden gate. It too was latched. I couldn't get to him fast enough. Misty appeared on the other side, coaxing Donkey through. He kicked his hind legs up and with one burst, he blew the gate off its hinges. Back in the barnyard, the two spring fools ran in circles, snorting and whinnying and kicking their heels up in the air.

The sheep watched as the horse and donkey ran around like complete idiots. I used a bungee cord to fasten the gate back onto its hinges, and went back into the house to tend to my burning bacon.

"Sorry about that," said my husband, who had left the shed door open, providing the escape.



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