The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

The Wisdom Of Barnyard Bruke: The Robins Are Here Already

Greetings to everyone in Western Illinois. Here we are now, so quickly finished with the month of February and a good start into March.

I counted three days in February with thundershowers. Let's now see if we have three cold spells in May to match up with the folklore on February thundershowers.

For March, the old saying is, "So many mists in March we see, so many frosts in May shall be".

In March we think of "If it comes in like a lion it will go out like a lamb", or "A month that comes in good, goes out bad" - both pertaining to weather.

The month of March was named for Mars, the Roman's god of war, for it was a traditional time for them to resume military campaigns.

March for the Romans was the first month of their year.

For early American settlers, March was a dreaded time of deprivation.

Tour the old settler's graveyards and their markers attest that many a pioneer, weakened by the hardships of winter and lack of vitamin-rich foods, could not quite make it to spring, but instead died in "March Hill".

March is often a month of many firsts. During this month we find the first daffodil, skunk cabbage, earthworm and robin. (I spotted the first bunch of about 26 robins early last week. The pickens might be a bit slim as they await the first worm to poke his head out!)

For the Irish (wannabe's, hopetobe's, and pretend to be's) March 17 is a highlight feast day of St. Patrick.

The patron Saint of Ireland was born in Britain around A.D. 389, and in his name we bake Irish soda bread, eat corned beef and cabbage, and proudly wear the green.

I've got a bit of Irish blood in my carcass which gives me the blarney.

The weather, as you all know, can be notoriously temperamental during this month. It is alive with fast-moving weather systems, tantalizing warm days, and record breaking storms. On the farm, March means mud, skeins of migrating geese, spring-cleaning and maple syrup.

Full moon falls on March 11, as does daylight savings time on March 8th (my birthday) and the 20th of March is the first day of spring.

Two traditional names for this month's full moon are full worm moon, celebrating the reemergence of earthworms as the ground thaws, and full sap moon, so called for premium syrup, from a good sap run that needs warm days and cold nights.

One taps maple trees when daytime temperatures reach 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures still drop below freezing.

To tap a sugar maple, drill 2 to 4 inches into the south side of the tree at any convenient height, making a hole 3/8 to 5/8 inch in diameter (larger holes for larger trees).

The hole should slant upward slightly. Drive a metal sap spigot (available at some hardware stores) into the hole, stopping short of the full distance of the hole. Hang a bucket on it to collect the sap. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup.

For a treat, boil maple syrup until it spins a thread then pour it over clean packed snow or crushed ice.

If your maple syrup crystallizes, place the container in a pan of very hot water for a few minutes to restore it to its liquid state.

For those of youn's that still have gardens this is the month to manure your food plot. If'n you haven't done so before now, prune the suckers (water sprouts) and remove all dead or diseased branches on your apple and other fruit trees.

For your flowering shrubs, prune summer-and fall-blooming shrubs before growth begins.

Spring flowering shrubs such as lilacs and forsythias should be pruned soon after the flowers fade.

Holly should be pruned to give plants a desirable shape by shortening scraggly stems and removing all dead growth.

For roses cut back last years growth by one-third while the plants are dormant. Remove all dead canes and cut off any branches that cross.

For hydrangea prune climbing hydrangea that flower on new growth, before the new growth begin. Prune oak-leaf hydrangea and lace caps after the flowers fade.

For both types, prune back to the strongest pair of new shoots, thin older woody stems, and remove any crossed or woody branches.

Don't forget your grape arbor. Trim back last year's growth properly and make sure they are hung securely to provide proper sunlight and ventilage. I can almost taste that grape jam already.

Well, in case you haven't noticed, I have given you enough information and March jobs to keep your minds off of President Obama's expenditures, projected budget, and proposed social changes at least for a spell.

Besides, pruning provides exercise in preparation for later spring work load. And, if'n it don't take your mind off of our changing political environment-well then prune, cut, and spread manure as if'n you had entered the political arena yourself.

Does anyone know why President Obama always zeros in on the strawman negatives he perceives to have inherited from the previous "Bush" administration, rather than any of the positives?

For example a positive, in my mind, as we enter March, the traditional time to resume military campaigns is "There is no war engaged on our homeland soil".

Also, were there only Republicans in Congress the last 4 years? He and the liberal press seem to absolve all Democrats for any responsibility for his perceived "Crisis's". He seems to be especially good at spreading B.S. manure for his future garden.

It reminds me, in a way, of an old Indian trick. They would spook the Buffalo to stampede over a cliff at which time they fell victim to the hunters knife.

Recent rhetoric seems to be stampeding the gullible American public into a socialism cliff that would never had been possible without fear and crisis rhetoric.

By the way, for you farm folk, I'm a hop'n by now you have cared for your tax obligation. That is of course unless you are a politician and feel you have no special obligation to do so.

I can see why they so often favor raise'n taxes, see'n as how so many of them just ignore pay'n their "fair share".

Take note the taxes are mailed this year to Fresco, California, rather than Kansas City. Does anyone know the reason for the change?

Remember this: "Smile, it is the universal welcome".

Catch ya later

Barnyard Bruke