A Year at Pleasant Hill Farm: February

For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. (Song of Solomon 2: 11,12)

In southern Indiana, much of the natural world has been fooled into thinking that it is almost spring. Crocuses are blooming, and the daffodils are just days away.

Our blueberry bushes look ready to burst into blossom, too soon as well.

Ben loves to ride the "free rider," as he calls the tag-along.

It's been so warm, the youngest boys and I have been able to make our weekly trek to the bookmobile on bicycles several times this winter, including this week.

But our most eagerly anticipated harbinger of spring didn't put in an early appearance this year. In fact, we only first heard them this week, a bit later than usual. I'm talking, of course, about the incomparably sweet music of spring peepers.

By late February these little tree frogs have dug themselves out of their winter hibernation spots, and are filling every little pond and puddle on our 110 acres. Apparently they have a preference for ponds that dry up after the tadpoles hatch, and they can withstand cold weather because they have lots of glucose in their livers which acts as anti-freeze. Rarely do we see the tiny (less than 1") creatures, though once during a rainstorm they covered the glass on our basement door, and from time to time one will hop into our garage, filling it with far more sound than such a small body ought to be able to.

Blackberry can't keep out of the ponds in warm weather, either.
 You can listen to a chorus of peepers at Wikipedia, though better yet, grab your children and take a walk somewhere you can hear them live.

Here's one more pre-spring idea: Have your children go on a "Winter is almost gone!" Scavenger Hunt. If you have preschoolers, go outside with them and help them observe all the signs of approaching spring that you can hear, smell, touch, and see. (Maybe even taste, if you are adventurous.) If they are older, you might just send them out alone armed with a notepad or camera. I did this today with my youngest two, and I'm going to plan some type of nature activity for them each Wednesday to do while I work with two high schoolers on chemistry. 


Kristen Wegener said…
So happy about the peepers! And your daffodils are several weeks ahead of mine. Mine are just peeping their little heads out of the ground. Crazy what 100 miles can do.

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