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Donnie Johnston: Farewell to a frigid February
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WINTER CAN SOMETIMES BE A LONG SLOG

Donnie Johnston: Farewell to a frigid February

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Hopefully we will see some sun this week.

This has been one dismal February. We’ve had it all—snow, rain, freezing rain, sleet. Fourteen out of the first 18 days of this month were cloudy, and not just cloudy but socked in cloudy, dreary, miserable.

The good part of all this is that February is about over. The bad part is that March, the rottenest month of the year, is just a few days away.

March has no redeeming qualities. Yes, we have this vision in our minds of spring, with sunshine and warm breezes, arriving on the first day of March. Sorry, but it ain’t so.

March weather is usually miserable, with cold winds, rain, snow and mud up to your ears. The Blizzard of 1962, arguably the worst snow/ice storm of the 20th century, began on March 5. March can be a mean month.

Still, there is a silver lining to the raunchy weather we have been having. When all the clouds arrived the last day of January, it was getting dark at 5:45 each afternoon.

When the clouds went away this past weekend, the skies still had light at 6:30. In three weeks, Daylight Saving Time will be here and it won’t get completely dark until almost 8 p.m. Longer days to play in the March mud.

There have been years when I had my early garden planted by today’s date. Not this time. The potatoes, peas, onions and greens will have to wait. The wet, not the cold, is the culprit.

Still, this is a good time to get prepared. Usually you have a very short window of opportunity—sometimes only 24 hours—to plant early crops, so it is important to be ready when the soil is right. I’ve got my seeds ready so that when the ground is tillable, I can go to work.

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COVID made gardeners out of a lot of bored people last spring. With quarantines in effect, some people turned to the soil. At least you could get out of the house and do something productive. Hopefully that trend will continue this season. Many found growing their own vegetables to be a very rewarding experience. Some even ventured into canning.

This is a good time to watch out for any pets that stay outside for any length of time. Coyotes are starting to raise pups and they will snatch up any cat or small dog they can find. The old saying is that coyotes like cats like humans like chocolate.

That seems to be true, but it is a bit strange. Buzzards will have to be extremely hungry before they will scavenge a dead cat on the highway. Nothing likes the taste of cat meat except coyotes. Maybe COVID has messed up their taste buds.

Speaking of buzzards, this is their nesting time, too. Mexican short tail vultures (the variety with feathers on their heads) love to nest in barn lofts, so if you see hanging around an old building, there just might be chicks close at hand.

Ducks have already started pairing up and, like geese, they are ready to start nesting in ponds and backwater streams.

I mention all these things to remind you that no matter how dismal February and March might be, there are better days ahead. The weather might not be perfect, but spring is on the way and it won’t be too long before we start complaining about the heat.

At this point, I am ready for warm weather. Nobody loves winter any more than I do, but February has given me all the cold, snow and ice that I want. Let’s move on.

In the overall scheme of things, we really haven’t had it too bad. They’ve had record low temperatures in Texas and early last week it was so cold that many of the electricity-generating operations for the area were frozen. On the coldest nights of the year, there were rolling blackouts of up to an hour.

The upper Midwest has had it rough, too, and one storm brought almost nine feet of snow to one California town in the Sierra Madre. Last week’s ice storm saw almost all the homes in Nottaway County (Southern Virginia) without power.

So, at least for the month of February, global warming took a hiatus. Winter, it seems, is still winter.

But have no fear. Spring will eventually arrive. But as I said, don’t look for good things in March. It can be the nastiest month of the year.

Donnie Johnston:

djohn40330@aol.com

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