Tuesday, March 6, 2012


When Noel Perrin said that Vermont had six seasons, not four he could as easily have inserted Ontario in place of Vermont and he'd have been equally correct. The two extra seasons to which he refers in his books are "locking" and "unlocking". You can use the terms freeze up and thaw in place of locking and unlocking if you wish, but I stand with him in saying that these "seasons" really do stand between fall, winter and spring.

Most years Ontario, Vermont and other northern places would be thinking about entering "unlocking" some time in the next couple of weeks, but this winter has been so mild parts of southern Ontario really never did freeze up. In a more normal season the warm March sun begins to melt the snow and frozen ground from the top down. When the snow is mostly gone and the first inch of soil melts it turns into mud that is super slippery...greasy was the term we used for it. Each successive warm day melts more frost and the mud gets deeper and more serious as the days progress until finally the frost lets go underneath and the soupy soil finally begins to drain. How long it takes till the frost lets go depends on the snowpack and how deeply the soil is frozen. In years with a big snowpack that came late with a lot of cold weather first it can take a LONG time for the soil to unthaw and an even longer time for the mud to fully disappear. Back before no-till I remember running into patches of frost in shady areas with the discs or C tine cultivator as late as early May.

Tennessee is mostly a disappointment if you like mud. Except in low, boggy places and areas of high traffic the ground never gets past the beginnings of the greasy stage. A couple inches of gravel will keep a firm bottom in most high traffic areas. Even areas that are routinely under water fail to get muddy, at least the way I remember mud in Ontario where at times in March and April if you weren't on a hard surface you were stuck regardless of what you were driving.

This year we went from damp soil to bone dry in the course of about three days. I ate enough dust while sowing grass seed and harrowing manure earlier today that I think I'm going to wait for a shower to re-commence spring's work. And with that thought I'm going to find a shower and wash the dust off me.


Bif said...

There is a time and a place for mud.

There is a time and place for gravel =)

So, uh, what are your thoughts on global warming...?

Stevie Taylor said...

You're not missing much. I rtejoiced with 3 sunny days so the mud to the pig pen could dry out. The pig was not as happy :) Stevie@ruffledfeathersandspilledmilk.com