The Winter Itch


It comes in like a tickle from a gentle breeze. Softly fluttering into the heart. The sunshine an warmth causes a stirring. Much like the confused insects that come crawling out of the earth, out of their hiding places, and into the sunlight, so does the itch work on waking up the spirit of the farmer.

You see, farmers may not hibernate like the bears, or crawl into a nest to slumber the winter away, but, in a way, farmers rest in the winter. We make do with the little daylight we have, only turning on our headlamps when truly necessary, perhaps to check on ewes who are lambing, or to get one more chore completed. We drink a little more tea or whisky, settle in with our books, charts, and maps and stare into the future on the cold, quiet evenings.

Nearly every winter, though, comes those warm days. They spring up and like waking a napping cat, we pop one eye open. Our spirits stir and we long for spring. The seed catalogs, which frequently arrive even before Christmas, don’t help in preventing this longing, the ache for spring, the itch to get out and work the soil, solidify fences, open up the pasture for our ruminants, and feel the hot sun on our faces. The future plans we have been making in the dark of the evening stand at the forefront of our minds, making that itch ever so strong as the urge grows to make those thoughts reality.

Then Mother Nature gets Jack Frost back to work and we are again cast into the cold of winter. The itch dies down for another month as we endure January and inch our way through February. February again gives us a glimmer of hope of warmer days, softer ground, gentler weather. But we know, around here, we wait until March 15th. Until then, winter is still upon us and Jack Frost can still throw one more winter storm our way. That doesn’t mean the itch doesn’t drive us outside after every thaw to work on anything we can!

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