Thursday, April 23, 2009

Spring Fever

Spring seems to have found us here in north central Minnesota with temps in the 50s, 60s or 70s during the days and no more dipping below freezing at night. The warmer weather makes doing chores easier, especially watering horses because I don’t have to carry the hose into the house at night to keep it from freezing. These blustery spring days are very enjoyable to the horses, not only do the temperatures suit them, there are no flies to bother them. We have not had any soaking rains that really bring on the green, but the herd splits their time between the provided round bales and nipping at the new growth in the pasture. The herd happily gallops their acreage, chasing and playing with one another, especially the two geldings, Trouble and Kiss.

Last week, I happened into the barn during one of the rare times when Mother Goose was off her nest. You’ll remember that I found her on five eggs March 16, now there are 14 eggs! What the heck will I do with more than a dozen goslings! I was charmed by the thought of four or five fuzzy little goose babies, who knew she’d just keep manufacturing eggs? If I had known I would have given the others to Dan, who paints eggs with the most beautiful Ukrainian patterns and could have sold them to his Easter egg admirers. Goose egg gestation is 28-30 days and we are a week passed that timeframe for the first eggs laid. I am wondering if all are viable, which certainly save me! I’ll keep you posted.

Local farmers are already in the fields – disking the dirt, mowing down corn that wasn’t harvested, spreading loads of manure to fertilize the fields, etc. Last year there were snowstorms in late April and the ground did not reach planting warmth until late May. Rain is predicted for the weekend, so hopefully this will keep farmers from hand wringing like little old ladies about a draught or poor growing season, which in my humble opinion only serves to drive up hay and feed prices unnecessarily. It’s just too soon to tell, and so far the weather is shaping up to be on the farmer’s side.

Recently, there was an ad in a local paper for a smelt fry at a restaurant in a neighboring town. I hadn’t been to one of these for decades and remembered the beer battered lovelies with great delight. We arrived at Pace’s for the all-you-can-eat buffet only to find the smelt were on the small side and were not hot enough. Like all deep-fried goodies, they’re best when finger dancing, volcanic hot. The side dishes of scalloped potatoes, baked beans and coleslaw were very good, but that’s not why we came. Ian commented that to him smelt tastes like Mackerel. Smelt only "run" in the spring, and in hopes of improving our experience, we may go to a fundraising smelt fry for firefighters in North Branch this Saturday.

A couple of weeks ago we visited a farm in western Wisconsin. It was a very nice day, so we brought the dogs, Lady and Buddy, and all four of us enjoyed the sunshine as we walked the property. The pasture has a section that is overrun with cockleburs, while these aren’t as hurtful as thistle, they easily stick to clothes and, as we learned, poodle coats.

Poor Buddy, who was really enjoying all the new sniffs, was just matted with cockleburs. I thought I might be able to comb them out, but ended up having to shave him using a pair of horse clippers. To say I am not a groomer is an understatement, but shaving Buddy did give him relief from the pulled hair and scratching cocklebur particles. I followed up the shearing with a bubble bath. Becky, our groomer, was solidly booked readying dogs for Easter, so Buddy wore his ragged haircut until she was able to even him out on Tuesday evening with a complete body shave, leaving his coat an apricot-colored crushed velvet.

Not far from the farm we decided to lunch at the Magnor Lake Restaurant near Clayton. Our waitress suggested the fish sandwich, which arrived hot from the deep fryer, slathered in mayonnaise, topped with a lettuce leaf, all on a super soft bun. We washed this down with iced tea and enjoyed the lake cabin d├ęcor and views of the lake. For dessert we shared a piece of cheesecake, after being warned off the posted cream pie selections. The restaurant shares its restrooms with a convenience store, housed in the building’s other half. I stood with my hand on the restroom door agog at the number of deer heads mounted throughout the store. I waved Ian over and we toured the store, walking along the drink cooler, noting the many different taxidermy styles. It was weird and amazing all at the same time.


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