Jon Spaulding writing this week for Matt. We talk about the weather a lot in the Small Dog newsletters, and I guess it has to do with our agrarian roots. It’s May 19th and this morning I woke up to frost on my front lawn. While the temperature only went as low as 36 degrees last night according to my fancy thermometer, I’m confident it was a good bit colder based on the crispy white layer on the lawn.
It was just yesterday that my wife, with a day off, planted a large selection of perennials around the house, trying to make it more attractive to prospective buyers. The house has been on the market now for sixteen months. The poor little flowers and two large hanging baskets will probably succumb to the frost–truly disappointing.
What worries me more, though, is the frost’s effect on local farmers. Growing up on a dairy farm, the Spring tasks started with mending fences and always ended with field work and the planting of corn for the cows. It was my father’s goal every year to have the corn in as close to the 15th of May as possible to maximize the growing period. We usually grew relatively long corn, maturing in 95 to 100 days. If the corn was in by the 15th of May, it would be ready to be cut and fed to the cows as pasture diminished in late August.
Planting early, we always feared a late frost that could wipe out the seedlings and sprouts as they just emerged from the soil. While many of the farms located in the Mad River Valley just started to till and harrow the soil this week, farms in the Winooski Valley I pass on my commute have, in some cases, already put the corn planter away for the season. While I don’t expect that they will have to replant, in this difficult economic time—with milk prices at $10.00 per hundred weight—another shock, like having to repurchase corn seed, may just be the catalyst that pushes many over the edge. The weather can be truly cruel, and in farming so much is dependent on and at risk because of her.
Thanks for reading, and keep in touch.