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*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

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I recently bought a compost thermometer with an 18 inch probe to check the temperature in the center of my composting manure piles. My first test had me worried that the device was broken when the needle moved the wrong direction. I moved the probe to another spot and started to get a positive reading, so it wasn’t a total bust. I just needed to find a true hotspot in the pile.

A couple of days later I discovered why the needle moved the wrong direction. Not only was that spot not warm from actively composting, it was still snow-packed! With daytime temperatures in the 60s (F) lately, I allowed myself to be fooled about how much melting had occurred.

Only the main core of the pile really stays warm in the winter, and even that can go cold if the composting process stalls. Plenty of the accumulating pile on the fringes is mixed with snow when it gets picked up, or the entire pile gets periodically covered with new fallen snow.

DSCN2956eWhen the spring thaw begins, the visible snow is the first to go. It takes a lot longer to melt piles of snow and ice. I somehow was lulled into the assumption that our low amount of snow cover would mean a complete thaw would happen almost immediately.

The transition from winter to spring is a frustrating one for me. In some ways it seems to take a long time, but in other ways it happens faster than I can react. I noticed yesterday that the landscape pond beside our deck was more water than ice. I need to buy a new in-line filter for the water we pump up to a little waterfall.

DSCN2958eWhile walking Delilah, we came across evidence that moles have already begun their activity of tunneling in the lawn. I meant to buy some stinky deterrent to drive them off into the woods and out of our yard. Haven’t done that yet.

Even though we are drying out nicely, there is still a lot of soil moisture, which will be good when it comes to getting our hayfield to grow, but it means we can’t drive around on any of our machines without making deep impressions in the soft earth.

I would like to clean out the winter accumulation of manure in the paddocks, sooner than later, but that is a huge project and it is inviting a muddy battle to drive around pulling a heavy trailer this soon after the melt.

On top of these concerns is the always possible threat that we could yet receive a significant wallop of a winter storm. The example I repeatedly refer to now is the 18 inches we received on May 2nd in 2013. So even though I feel like I am already behind in being prepared for spring, the possibility for additional doses of winter weather still has a high potential to occur for another 6-weeks or so.

It’s crazy-making. Luckily, we have a trip to visit the Morales’ in Guatemala very soon. That ought to take my mind off the concern of lingering snow events for a while.

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Written by johnwhays

March 17, 2015 at 6:00 am

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