I am not a winter person. I am tired of layering up and wearing my hat, gloves, turtleneck, fleece, heavy jacket, corduroy pants, and boots. I am looking for signs of spring.
An exciting sign of spring is seeing the sun set after five o’clock in the evening. Those extra minutes of daylight lift my spirits. Another sign of spring is that the birds seem to be more active. Cardinals, blue jays, little brown birds, and the honking geese are all squawking away outside all day long and I’m happy to hear it.
On Feb. 2, that furry prognosticating celebrity, Punxsutawney Phil, was hauled out of his socially distanced burrow to give his prediction for 2021. Phil is the most famous of animal forecasters but not necessarily the most accurate. According to the internet, Punxsutawney Phil has been correct 39 percent of the time. This year he predicted another six weeks of winter.
I prefer to place my trust in Staten Island Chuck. This New York groundhog has a much better track record of accuracy than his Pennsylvania cousin. Staten Island Chuck predicts that spring will be arriving shortly in 2021. Over the years, he has been correct 80 percent of the time. Go Chuck!
Recently, I was surprised to learn about a local Westchester forecaster named Cluxatawney Henrietta. Cluxatawney Henrietta is a hen who resides at Muscoot Farm on Route 100. Henrietta predicted an early spring by laying an egg on Feb. 2. For three years in a row, Henrietta, an Ameraucana chicken, has made her predictions for an early spring by laying a blue egg on Groundhog’s Day.
Years ago, when I first moved to Lewisboro in 1987, I visited Muscoot Farm. I love cows and gardening and all of that good wholesome farm life. I volunteered to be a tour guide for school groups on weekday mornings to introduce young children and their teachers to the wonders of Muscoot Farm.
I took my tour guide position very seriously. At orientation, we were handed a large binder full of information on the history of Muscoot Farm, the barns and outbuildings on the farm, the farmhouse, the different animals raised on the farm, the vegetables grown and harvested, the dairy industry, etc. We were also handed a red and white checked short-sleeved shirt and a straw hat to wear when leading our tour groups. Yee-ha!
At home, I studied my binder to commit all of the farm facts to memory. I wanted to dazzle these young school children with my knowledge of animal husbandry, farm life in the early 1900s and comparisons to life then and now (no electricity, no TV, milk the cows before going off to school each morning!).
My first tour group was a class of pre-schoolers from down county. The children were very excited to visit all of the animals. As tour guides, we were encouraged to bring children into the chicken coop and then pick up a live chicken to show them up close. It was hard to get past the smell of the chicken coop and keep smiling while offering up facts about hens laying eggs. The chickens were non-plussed and allowed me to scoop up one hen to introduce to the wide-eyed children.
As we strolled along the farm path, I proudly announced to the youngsters that sheep don’t mind standing out in the rain because their wool has natural lanolin which repels water to keep the sheep feeling dry. The children enjoyed singing a rousing chorus of “Baa Baa Black Sheep.”
Kim Kovach must have lived on a farm in a previous life. kimkovachwrites.com