The Deepest Stirrings of Spring

January 31, 2014

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Ranchlands' founder Duke Phillips is a third generation cattle rancher who believes in economic diversification, high conservation ethics, and public education as critical to the future of ranching.

February is almost here, a mixed bag for us. In it hides the “deepest stirrings of spring” as Emma, our intern from Great Britain (who is sadly leaving tomorrow) put it so well. Normally it is full of bright clear skys, cold mornings and warmish days. You begin feeling a difference: the animals behaving a little different, bits of fur hanging on bushes, the tiniest bits of green.

I should say perhaps not a difference, but a hint of it. With this change, always comes the building expectation of spring; we have all been waiting for winter to be over, for spring to arrive with her green skirt, her flush of growth and new life. Hence the subtle change in behavior, even in this early spring month.

Yet, winter is hardly over. In fact, the harshest time of the entire year is just ahead of us. Because the ground is so cold and the plants need a certain temperature in order to grow, spring really doesn’t hit in full force till mid-May. By full force, I mean consistent warmth and green matter covering the ground so that the animals out here can get mouthfuls of it. In the meantime, the condition of all the animals will decline because they are so starved for a green morsel to eat that they will compromise their nutritional needs in order to find a bit of green to eat. The old timers call it, “chasing the green”. But of course, springs green mantle needs moisture, and we don’t know if it will come. Most years in the past 14, it has not. So we will wait and see what happens. We are reminded again of how our lives out here are profoundly connected to precious moisture and the earth growing warmer underground.