> jumping into life.

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Spring stretches her languid limbs. She purrs out a great tumble of rain, then she turns and bites: an unbroken week of bright, beautiful days that wither the crops in the field. We fill a tank out of the pond, drive the busted truck up to the field, using physics, good timing, and luck in place of brakes. We plant a few hundred chard and lettuce starts, watering each one in by hand. Might be a thousand, all together; we planted some ten thousand onions on Friday, and then P. drove up to water them, too.

The sheer volume of plants stuns me. Every day we move a dozen or more flats from the greenhouse to the coldframe, move a few thousand plants into the fields, plant hundreds of seeds to fill the greenhouse anew. Every morning we walk down the aisles, little green seas on either side, and we can see how much growth came on overnight. One day the flat is bare soil, and the next morning two little leaves have popped out of every cell; in a week the plants are a few inches tall, and soon they'll be on their way to their own little patch dirt in someone's yard or on the farm. We thin the brassicas and have tasty mesclun salad for a week. The spinach bolts early and we eat it all, shockingly sweet, handfuls at a time.

On fresh pasture, the hens lay incredible eggs. The yolks nearly glow, deep orange and standing up so well as to be practically spherical even in the pan. Two hens went broody but got occasionally bored with the job, so for a while it was wise to crack each egg separately, carefully, and peer inside gingerly before dumping it into the mix. Our 50 meat bird chicks rapidly outgrow their enclosure, all gangly legs and long necks and dinosaur eyes. Soon they'll be out on grass, too, and the chick house will be full of tiny new layers, who stay cute much longer. Out in the chicken yard, the mean rooster keeps well clear of me, and I haven't even kicked him yet.

Finally the rain comes. We've planted all the cukes, zukes and squash and this time the sky waters them in. Big thunder that spooks the dog, good hard rain to swell the little creek and fill the soil. That something in my heart that always waits for rain loosens its grip; everyone jokes that now I've got my winter, and they're right. A few more thunderstorms and I'll be sated for the season.

[This was supposed to be posted last week. Sorry.]