For those who grew up on a farm, this is a special time of the year. There is the excitement of the new calves, new lambs or other livestock. Spring is when the farm comes to life. And one of the most important decisions has to be made… when to plant the year’s crops. If the planting is too soon, the yield will be a disaster. The cold will stunt the growth and a farm year is in jeopardy. If the planting is too late, precious warm days of spring are lost and too soon the spring rains will come.

In this day of technology and agricultural science, there are statistical models about when to plant. An enduring memory of Spring is my sisters and I pestering our grandfather whether this was the day for the tractors to roll out and work the fields. His reply was always to take us out for a walk in the fields. Somewhere out in the fields he would reach down for a handful of dirt, cup it in his hands, smell the soil and rub it between his hands before tossing it away. The answer was either “not yet” or “tomorrow we’ll plant“.

For decades, part of the livelihood of the family depended on the wisdom of those hands and his connection with his land. Even with today’s technology, I wager that he still would do the same thing. And perhaps today, the first of the long evenings, some farmer will forego the statistical tables and the charts, walk the fields, scoop up a handful of soil and know when Spring planting will be.