I imagine that everyone thinks their part of the country has the weirdest weather, and that everyone (except maybe the southern tier of states) says, at one time or another, “Don’t like the weather now? Wait five (or ten, or twenty) minutes and it’ll change!” Today is my day to enter eastern Washington (particularly Spokane County) into any current “weirdest weather” discussion.
Last winter we had record-setting snowfall…nearly 98 inches…over 8 feet of the white stuff! Seventy-some inches fell in a three-week period that had everyone in continual snow shovel/blower mode. Even die-hard snow fans like myself were grateful when Spring chased the last of it away.
By contrast, this winter…a mere 365 days later…is, so far, stacking up to be our third-LEAST snowiest winter in recorded history! We’ve had barely more than a foot fall! Snowblowers and shovels are on huge discounts at the local hardware stores.
And spring is springing early.
We had a few bales of old straw sitting around all winter, and last Saturday (the last Saturday in February) Liz and I threw them, two at a time, into the trailer attached to the riding lawn mower and drove them over to the chicken pen, where we tossed them over the fence to 20+ excited chickens. They love scratching through that stuff, searching for bugs and seed. Our honeybees had been flying all day, but it wasn’t until I was tossing straw over the chicken fence that I realized they were flying over my head. I couldn’t figure out why they seemed so focused on a journey in February. Usually February (and even most March) flights are about going to the bathroom (honeybees won’t poo in the hive) or just stretching their wings. But these seemed to truly be women on a mission! I walked over to the hives and watched the returning bees and sure enough, they were coming in with their back legs filled with pollen! Pollen in February, in Spokane County? That’s crazy talk!
I’m worried about this spring and fruit trees. Closer investigation in the garden showed buds ready to burst and tulips and daffodils poking out of the ground. In my 30 years here, I don’t think there’s ever been a Spring this early! We are a planting zone 5, which means we expect our last frost in late April/early May. North of Spokane, where I live, we don’t dare plant gardens until the snow is completely off Mt. Spokane, which is usually around Mother’s Day. At this rate, the snow could be off the mountain a month early, OR Mother Nature could hit us with a late-winter cold snap that could devastate the fruit growers…orchardists and backyard growers, alike!As usual, the fate of the growing season (and the honey season) lies with Mother Nature. We can worry, we can fret, we can plan, but in the end we can do very little. She will have her way! I decided to deal with the uncertainty by working some composted chicken/llama/sheep/hay manure into the dirt of the greenhouse and planting some lettuce. Worse-case-scenario, I have to replant…best-case-scenario, we’re eating fresh salad greens by tax day! That’s a gamble I’m willing to take!
Happy Spring to all (whenever it gets to you!).