Sunrise creeps past 7 a.m. this week, and sunset lingers close to 6 p.m. The longer days that signal the arrival of spring can’t come too soon here at Horsefeathers Farm in East Olympia.
The arrival of March marks the first real opportunity to work outside after my day job. Goodness knows, there is plenty to do.
Our neighborhood still is recovering from the January storms. Log by log, limb by limb, the fallen debris is being cut up, collected and stacked. But it’s a slow process when you leave for work in the dark and come home in the dark, left only with weekends to tackle the tasks at hand. Thus the longer days are a welcome sight.
This year, more than years past, all the yardwork and gardening tasks that mark the imminent arrival of spring are catching me off-guard. Look at the buds on the Indian plum and pear trees, the sprouting garlic bulbs in the garden and the shaggy lawn indicating the grass is starting to grow.
There still are fruit trees that need to be pruned and a 1980s Troy-Bilt rototiller that needs a tune-up before it will start. Just checked with my local repair shop Friday, and it has a 10-day backlog of work.
At least my John Deere lawn tractor fired right up two weekends ago after spending the winter under the barn awning, wrapped in a plastic tarp. I didn’t engage the mowing deck; there are too many mole hills that need leveling first. But I did use the lawn tractor and cart attachment to move a couple of cords of wood from the back pasture to the woodpile.
It won’t be long before I’ll switch gears from amateur woodcutter to full-time compost spreader and gardener. We’ve already decided on some new additions to the garden produce, including Swiss chard and delicata squash.
As busy as it’s been around Horsefeathers Farm lately, it’s even busier at work. This marks my seventh straight week filling in for Mike Oakland on the editorial page.
No, Oakland isn’t on a long trip to Europe or a sabbatical to write his memoirs. He’s still recovering from a nasty broken arm he suffered on Martin Luther King Jr. Day when he slipped and fell on an icy parking lot at work.
Producing the editorial page every day is a lot like herding cats or putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Plus you have to immerse yourself in a multitude of topics and become versed in them well enough to form an opinion.
I’ve served as Oakland’s backup for 10 years or more, but I’ve already put more time in on the editorial page in 2012 than I typically do in a full calendar year.
Anyway, this helps explain why I haven’t been writing daily stories since mid-January. It also helps explain why I haven’t had time to write a Soundings column every week of late. Mike: Get well soon.
The commute home will take a little longer than usual Tuesday night. That’s because BNSF will be working on the tracks at the Rich Road railroad crossing, raising the rails to better align with the roadway.
The work is expected to last from 6 a.m.-6 p.m., so drivers will need to use an alternate route.
Keith Eisner, spokesman for Thurston County Public Works, said the project has been in the works for a long time.
But I can tell you this: The Rich Road railroad crossing was almost impassable at the peak of the January snowstorm. Even in my four-wheel-drive vehicle, I had trouble negotiating the intersection. It was by far the most precarious spot on my commute.
“This isn’t good,” I thought to myself as I lurched and slipped across the tracks. Somebody could get stuck here.
Sounds like the repair work will help reduce what could have been a serious safety concern.
John Dodge: 360-754-5444 email@example.com