Finding the positive in spring's slow start

Susan Manzke

Bob and I start every spring visiting with readers at the WPS Farm Show in Oshkosh. This year we went on Tuesday, March 27th.

Columnist Susan Manzke brought along her chicken purse - and husband, Bob, to the WPS Farm Show where they greeted readers at the Wisconsin State Farmer booth.

The day started cold, windy, and wet, but we had the promise of better weather in the afternoon. Too bad the sun didn’t break through the clouds until the end of the day—Wednesday turned out to be lovely. Guess we picked the wrong day weather-wise. Oh well, it wasn’t that bad.

Since the Wisconsin State Farmer booth had moved to the East Tent, joining our parent group, Gannett Wisconsin Media, I wasn’t sure who would find us. Luckily many readers discovered the new location. Some had stumbled into the East Tent by accident; others had followed the directions given next to the map in the newspaper. Anyway, our spring began with visiting and laughing with lots of friends.

Janesville readers again stopped by, as did people from Reedsville, Clintonville, Oshkosh, and Omro…actually too many to remember.

One gentleman brought a photo of his dog to show us. The pooch living in his home looks very much like our Sunny, mostly dark with light tan around its face—a much loved dog who takes its rightful place on their couch when people are away, just like Sunny.

Other readers stopped by to give their condolences about the passing of our cat, Pete. Many reminisced about their own house cats. One column friend’s cat is pure white with startling blue eyes—direct opposite to our black cats.

Bob and I used up all our energy that day just talking with people. The time sped by for us with all the activity at our booth. Soon it was 4 p.m. and we were heading home again—exhausted—we’ve been tired before, but this day really zapped us…maybe it’s our age.

When Mother Nature brings more snow in early April, do what Sunny does - make the best of it!

Sorry we couldn’t be at the WPS Farm Show all three days. We would have loved seeing all our friends.

So that was the beginning of our spring, too bad the weather did another about-face for us.

March came in like a relative lamb and went out like a lion. I’m afraid April is coming in like a lioness with more snow storms. (I’m watching the weather maps as I write. They are showing 8 inches or more snow coming across Wisconsin today and more again next weekend. Also the cold temperatures could remain for at least the first half of April. Ugh.)

I’m trying to look at this in a positive way. Digging into my memory, my dad said that spring snows were “poor farmer’s fertilizer.” He meant that the late snows were good for the land.

I thought that old tale about spring snows being good was just a way of coping. We can’t do anything about the weather, except to find a benefit in it.

Today I searched the Internet looking for practical reasons spring snows help the soil. I didn’t expect to find anything, but (surprise) I found answers.

Susan Manzke's dog, Sunny, sure enjoys the snow even though most Wisconsin residents are tired of it.

On the Green Mountain Garlic web site it said that spring snow adds nitrogen to the land. Here’s their quote, “Spring snow falls on ground that is not frozen and leaches nutrients (including nitrogen) and moisture into the soil, thus “Poor Man’s Fertilizer”. 

The Farmer’s Almanac had a report on the benefits of spring snow, too. Here’s what their web post said: “Aside from water, nitrogen is the only element that snow puts back into the Earth. However, lightning and rain actually emit a greater proportion of nitrogen than snow. What probably makes snow good for the soil is that it feeds nitrogen into the soil at a slower and more even rate (through melting) than a thunderstorm, which delivers precipitation at a more rapid rate.”

So enjoy the free nitrogen application as you slosh through those sloppy spring snow storms. It’s just God giving you a helping of Poor Man’s Fertilizer.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;