FIRST THINGS

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Jason B. HarmonJason B. Harmon

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Waiting for spring is possibly the biggest challenge for any farmer. After months of ice, snow and cold wind, most rural folks know to watch for telltale signs that winter is finally coming to an end.

In the remote Ozark Mountains, where I was raised, the surest sign that spring has sprung is when the redbud trees bloom. Like other seasonal cycles, redbud blossoms appear almost magically every year toward the end of March.

Just when it seems that winter's icy grip will never end, suddenly the muted gray forest erupts in brilliant purple. That's when we're reassured that, despite the cool nights and late-season snow, winter can't stay forever.

Most farmers don't even wait for the redbuds or robins to herald spring before they begin their seasonal chores. In some parts of the country, winter wheat is maturing and potatoes have been in the ground since St. Patrick's Day. Newborn calves and foals huddle closely to their mothers, and milk from dairy cows again flows freely. Still others prepare to plow fields for planting like endless generations before them.

Those chores come as welcome reminders to many farmers that they won't have to eat vegetables canned from the previous harvest much longer. Spring is coming, and even the north wind's bluster can't stop the inevitable rebirth.

For old-iron collectors, spring brings the start of the farm show season. That's when tractors, engines and other farm collectibles are wheeled out of the barn, lubricated and polished to perfection.

I'm certain that many of you have already dog-eared your copies of the Farm Collector Show Directory, making plans to attend your favorite club show or that annual gathering where old friends meet to share stories about life on the farm and the old iron they love.

As spring turns to summer, I look forward to meeting a few of you at shows I plan to attend in Ohio, Iowa, North Carolina and Arizona. Until then, however, I'm happy to see those redbuds bloom and feel the sunshine for a change.

Jason B. Harmon, Editor, jharmon@ogden pubs.com