Who says Mother Nature doesn’t have a healthy sense of humor? She certain displayed it to us yesterday with the perfect April Fools’ Day prank. After giving us an extended period of reassuringly pleasant spring weather during the second half of March, Mother Nature slammed us with a final blow from Old Man Winter.
Our high temperature for the day on April 1 occurred at 12:01 AM with a mild reading of 47 degrees. However, that would be the last moment that the word “mild” could be applied to the day. Within the following six hours, the temperature would plummet by ten degrees accompanied by wind chills that hovered in the low-to-mid-twenties for most of the day. By day’s end, the thermometer reading had dropped into the upper twenties. The bitter winds also delivered a series of snow squalls and flurries with only a few brief breaks of sunshine in the afternoon hours. The weather felt miserably cold and blustery throughout the entire day. By the late afternoon, the landscape was frosted with a dusting of snow, which was quite an achievement given how much the ground had warmed over the past few weeks. I hope Mother Nature enjoyed her fiendish practical joke. We were certainly the April Fools yesterday.
Fortunately, I had not put away my winter coat, hat and gloves, which I wore to tend the goats throughout the day. I spent most of the time working indoors, a portion of which I spent writing and editing my fifth book, More Country Life at Peeper Pond Farm, which will eventually include this post. Morgan Alban, my planning successor at the city of Cumberland, also e-mailed me a revised site plan for the big Cumberland Gateway redevelopment project, which I reviewed and discussed with her. The proposed development concept includes a hotel and numerous commercial businesses adjacent to Maryland Avenue just south of I-68 and downtown Cumberland.
Although Morgan is new to the field of planning, she is catching on quickly. When completed, the venture promises to be the city’s biggest redevelopment project since Canal Place and the biggest privately funded investment in a much longer span of time, which helps explain why the city requested my assistance. The urban setting and relatively constrained development site also make it a technical challenge to design and build. The review and approval of this project in addition to helping Morgan learn the job are the primary spare time consulting responsibilities I perform for the city. In fact, it’s part of the reason why I have had so little spare time over the past two years. I guess this part-time work makes a rather odd second job for a farmer. I do admit, it’s quite a change of pace from our life here at Peeper Pond farm.
As for life on our farm, the inclement weather forced it into remission. Barb spent most of her time working on her quilting projects. Calli, who has recently recovered from a brief illness, tried to turn the front porch entrance into a revolving door with her frequent trips out into the hostile weather and back into the house to retreat from it. All the birds and wild animals appeared to hunker down and wait for spring to return. The robins continued their ever-vigilant search for worms in our vegetable garden, although they probably wondered who thought the snow would help. They seemed to know intuitively that Mother Nature was only playing games. Our goats, on the other hand, seemed to take a more casual attitude to the unpleasant weather. While they spent much of their time in the barn, they did take a number of strolls out into the pen to enjoy the sunny breaks we received. Our newest goat kids, Gracie and Eleanor, played on their rock pile as though the intermittent flurries didn’t bother them a bit. The snowfall seemed to be as enticing a source of excitement and wonder for them as it would for any child.
Our recent bout of foul winter weather is forecasted to linger through today. I awoke this morning to a gentle snowfall and a morning low of 23 degrees with wind chills in the low teens. The dusting of snow we received yesterday remains on the ground this morning. Our high temperature for the day may break forty degrees, which would still be a good twenty degrees below the average high. Today is the 57th day of snowfall we have received this winter, resulting in a total accumulation of 33.5 inches for the entire season. Our winter snowfall total is about 34% above the seasonal average for our area. We can certainly report that we have had a hardy winter this year, which Mother Nature has underscored with a great April Fools joke. Now we are left to wonder, what can she scheming to give us for spring and summer?