Spring has sprung here in Montana. The bluebirds are back — there’s a number of them zipping around up at the cabin (although I haven’t seen anything as dramatic as this photo). They’re a color blue that you can’t quite believe exists in nature, much less that it’s zipping around out there catching bugs, building nests and having babies. At the end of last summer, when we were hiking up on the Judith Wildlife Reserve, we saw hundreds of them flocking up to migrate. It was wild, little blue shards everywhere you looked.
And the Sandhill cranes are back. There’s a pair down at the bottom of the road to the cabin. In the evening I sometimes mistake them for deer at first, because they’re the same brown color and they’re big, but then they move and there’s no mistaking them. A breeding pair, who have apparently been there for decades (or they’re handing the spot down between generations). There’s another breeding pair I see when I drive back into town, on the O’Hare ranch — two or three mornings I’ve seen them flying toward the Yellowstone.
And then the other night I heard what sounded like a mother coyote teaching pups to hunt. There was at least one adult voice, and a whole number of high-pitched, excited voices that sounded like puppies to me. I couldn’t see them since they were over a swale, but there are a lot of bunnies up there, and it would be a great place to teach pups to hunt. And that big healthy bitch coyote I saw several times this winter certainly looked like she was a good candidate for reproduction. She’s beautiful. A big reddish ruff, healthy coat, and from the number of deer legs my oh-so-domestic dogs have found, well fed.
So here’s to spring in Montana, and to wildlife babies all around.
I came back from my week in Seattle and found that the hoop houses have been a huge success. The photo above is my first batch of spring greens — arugula, broccoli rabe, komatsuna, and a few dandelions from the yard. I was just thrilled. There were enough thinnings that I’ve been eating my own greens, fresh from the yard, for the first time since last summer.
I have to say, I think part of the reason I came down with strep is that after growing my own veggies, the ones in the store, especially in the winter in Montana, look so sad and tired that I just can’t get excited about cooking or eating them. My greens, on the other hand, are vibrant and fabulous and bright green and were growing and alive just yesterday. This morning, I made my favorite breakfast, greens and eggs rolled up in a tortilla, and it just felt like everything is going to be okay again. I’ve got greens coming up. Spring is back.
These are the chives that overwintered in my mudroom — they started coming back about two weeks ago, which makes overwintering them totally worthwhile. Although it’s warm here — nearly 60 degrees yesterday! And the sun is beginning to shine again, the ground is still frozen, and the garden chives and parsley have only just begun to think about greening up.
Yesterday I got the seeds out, and started organizing them again. I usually start tomatoes and peppers around the fifteenth of march, under lights in the basement. But it’s always an adventure deciding what to plant this year. I have a couple of new projects — among them, completing the fence around the raised beds to keep the chickens and dogs out of the food crops, and I think I want to try a hoop house this spring. I have a couple of square beds, six feet along each side, and I just need to get the Sweetheart, who builds things for a living, to calculate the materials for me, and I think I’m going to experiment with starting early in one bed. It would be nice to have some spinach, or early greens — maybe some Asian greens like tatsoi and gai lan, which are impossible to buy anywhere near here. Into each spring, a little garden project must fall …