By Diane Lockspeiser

Fluctuating February: first it’s in the 50s, then below zero, then back to 40. What a crazy Winter it’s been and promises to continue to be. The mild weather this week has allowed me to get through the garden gate to prune the fruit trees there. They usually have to wait until the very end of Winter to be trimmed.

During an earlier, icier spell, my fear of the car sliding down our driveway came true, but fortunately not as badly as my fears had been. I had been going very slowly and the ice was near the bottom of the hill, so I came to a stop on the road before reaching the drop-off on the other side. It was just extremely unnerving to have the steering wheel turned to the left yet have the car still slide straight forward!

As for the library mural, I’ve started concentrating more on getting in the greenery and background, so some sections are actually finished. One weekend, getting tired of painting plants, which tend to be more intricate and therefore require more patience, I decided that for the next day I needed to add another small critter for fun. I went to sleep pondering the issue and woke in the morning to the distinctive call of a Mourning Dove. It was the first I had heard from them in a very long time, and I instantly knew what I needed to paint that day!

 The Doves are seed-eaters and I have discovered that they love the oats I scatter as treats for Rocky and Adrian, my last remaining rooster and hen (who have also been added to the library wall). I have decided to get those two their own little coop outside the enclosure so that I can start a new batch of chicks sometime in March.

The new chicks will stay inside the old very large coop until they are full grown. Then I’ll let them out just into the enclosed yard and not free onto the grassy pasture. In case anyone is wondering, that is the difference between free range and pastured eggs. The pastured hens have more bugs and greenery available to eat, producing more nutritious eggs, but they are also themselves more available for predators to eat!

 Mixed-up March is often even more unpredictable than this Fluctuating February has been, but at least we can reassure ourselves that Spring weather can’t be too far away!~