Different perspective of spring allergies

Spring is one of the best times on the farm.

Everything is turning gradually from brown and crunchy to lush green and wispy. The chickens, thrilled to be able to enjoy the outside of their coop instead of cowering inside away from harsh, frigid breezes, run as fast as their little three-toe feet can take them into their attached run and ease themselves on to the warming earth.

Almost instantly, they begin moving their wings to toss dry soil not only on their backs but also beneath, removing any pests that may be lurking and preening themselves in the process. It truly is quite comical to watch a group of chickens decide to take a dust bath.

Once the birds have finished, especially on a sunny day, they will continue to lay on their sides and soak up the sun and the warmth. To the inexperienced person around chickens, to look around, one would think there’s a lot of dead fowl in the chicken yard. However, if you stop and listen closely, you’ll hear contented coos and soft clucks indicating this is truly what chicken heaven must feel like.

The bees on the farm also are all abuzz with flowers just ready to burst forth in bloom. This time of the year is usually the worst for me with allergies, but this year, I’m actually embracing the sneezing, watery eyes and scratchy throat because I know those symptoms are caused by pollen, and with pollen comes food for the hungry little buzzers. To know the ladies will be able to forage again for food will be such a relief.

The hives have been religiously fed since October, and I just keep my fingers crossed they are going to make it through the winter. I’ve discovered honey bees actually feed strongly on the flowers of maple trees, so I’m watching those trees, as well, willing them to start flowering soon.

Spring also is the time for baby animals to be born, and there have already been six chickens hatched so far. No matter how many times I’ve witnessed it, I still think the new hatchling is adorable, and I love how something that looks so lifeless, an egg, when fertilized can produce a wriggling, peeping, fluff ball with feet.

I’m also preparing for the next round of meat chickens to arrive via mail in just a few short weeks. This is always an adventure with an early morning trip to our local post office to pick up a box of peeping yellow chicks and get them home and into the warmth as quickly as possible.

This year, I ordered with a friend and will be receiving the largest amount of chicks I’ve ever received at once – 150. I’m going to apologize in advance to our local postal workers for the sound that many chicks are going to make when they arrive. I know, though, they are used to receiving this kind of mail, and they always take as good of care as they can with them until I can get there.

It’s always comical when I receive the early morning phone call from the post office because I can hear the sounds of the birds in the call’s background before the postmaster even tells me they are ready for pick up. It’s honestly one of my favorite parts of spring.

I’ll be anxiously awaiting the warmer weather in the coming weeks, and as the flowers finally display their blooms, I’ll be celebrating the bees taking advantage of the new food available to them as I take my allergy medicine. The sneezing and watery eyes will soon lead to a first-year honey harvest, and I can’t wait.

Until next time…

Stephanie Strothmann owns Purple Shamrock Farm LLC in rural Seymour. Read her blog at whattheclucker.blogspot.com. Send comments to [email protected].