Spring on the Farm

Spring on the Farm

By William Seward ‘12
Opinion Section, The Dickinsonian
April 25, 2012

Spring is supposed to be the season of rejuvenation, when the flowers brighten our spirits and the sun warms our souls. We associate it with fertility, adorning new life with our blessings and care, and embracing our childhood pleasures. If youth is a reminder of our volatile and hormonal adolescence, then it is fitting that we also know spring for its unpredictability. Unseasonal weather can be inviting, but it often escalates into summer-like heat and humidity or suddenly collapses under torrents of wind and rain.

Spring can test our patience. For us students, it is the end of our academic year, and an uphill climb toward the plateau of our summer. We have to catch up on our work and take care of unfinished business, as we struggle to gain enough momentum to get over the hill of our final projects and exams. Spring is a period of transition when we have to focus on completing one semester while making plans for the beginning of the next.

At the college farm, we are also working hard to build foundations for the seasons to come. Spring is a time of regrowth and renewal, but achieving these can be slow and tedious. As we plant the first seedlings in the fields, we look to the sky, wondering if the rain will keep the young crops alive or if it’s already time to start irrigating. During the summer, the farm is a thriving system of planting and harvesting, but in the trenches of the spring, everything is young and vulnerable.

The farm’s animals are showing the restless signs of springtime anticipation. The sheep are pregnant and will be giving birth to lambs in a matter of weeks. The females walk gingerly when we move them onto fresh pasture, and the males bleat loudly if we get too close. We are very happy to welcome the ten new cows that will be spending the season on the farm, but they are wary of their new territory, and skittish around people. They run in close formation from one end of the pasture to the other when we approach them. The stampeding group is a striking combination of power, grace and innocence.

Just as the cows are slowly familiarizing themselves with the farm, we will be getting reacquainted with our local farmers after the hiatus of winter. We tend not to be as enthusiastic about eating locally during the cold months, when farmers’ markets are infrequent and sparse, when we would rather eat food that is comforting and convenient. Spring is when we are reminded of the bounty that the summer has in store.

At the college farm, we have started to plant the first field crops, such as cabbage and potatoes, which will not be harvested until the late summer and fall. We have started to harvest spring greens like lettuce, bok choy, kale and herbs from the greenhouses, and at the end of May we will see one of everybody’s springtime favorites: strawberries! Hopefully, the new livestock and seasonal produce that the college farm is raising will rejuvenate us this spring amid the tumultuous atmosphere on campus.

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