Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Phenology 4.17.13

Phenology Report – Week of April 15, 2013

I had decided to wait a couple of weeks from the last phenology report in hopes that we would really start to see some major temperature shifts and signs of spring….well, we have not seen this yet.  Our unseasonable cold temperatures of late have been slightly agitating, but in trade we have been receiving extra moisture, which our soils desperately needed – so it is even in my book.  The most interesting thing I have noticed lately is the changes in trees and plants vs. changes in animal life.  With this cold weather, the trees and other herbaceous plants seems to be in a “hold and wait” mode where they are not breaking bud and leafing out or flowering.   Rather the plants are just staying near dormancy in wait for warmer evenings.  

A friend told me yesterday that this has been the best maple syruping year they have ever experienced (and these people have been around a few years).  When we talk about maple syrup one must understand that a maple tree does not just give you dark, sweet syrup if you stick a straw in it – it’s a process.  You must first “tap” the tree to allow the flowing sap of the maple to be collected in buckets or bags; the sap must then be cooked down over a hot stove or open fire until it reaches the sugar content you are looking for – this cooking down process is what gives the syrup its caramel color.  Even the different maple trees have varying percentages of sugars in their sap, therefore changing the cooking time.  The reason 2013 has been a good year is due to the fact that we have had days 40-50’s and then it cools down to the 30’s at night.  This warming and cooling action makes the tree want to “run” or move sap up and down the trunk in order to prepare for the spring bud break and flowering.  When we “tap” a tree we are just intercepting the sap as it is flowing through the tree.  So, at least this cool spring will potentially bring us more maple syrup!!

The animals on the other had, particularly the birds, are thoroughly confused by these cold days and extra snowstorms we have been having.  The killdeer, meadowlarks, robins and even the eastern kingbird are all waiting eagerly for the warm summer days to arrive.  I am thinking the young of last fall are thinking that their parents were lying to them when they were told that when they arrive back north it will be “the land of milk and honey”, instead its turned out to be the land of wind and snow storms!  It has been so cold that I think that kingbird decided he had enough and went back south!  The positive thing about this cool weather is that the lakes up north are still frozen over, meaning the migrating waterfowl are still congregating around the area and giving us a great opportunity to view the many varieties on our small wetlands.  Thousands of Canada geese, snow geese, white fronted geese and lesser Canadian geese have been holding over on the large wetland to the east of our place, waking up the morning with their loud calls (who needs a rooster?). 

Spring will arrive, we just have to be patient as I am sure it will bless the farm with a bountiful harvest over the summer.

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