The days are warmer and longer now (in the upper 30s, lower 40s), and the nights are warmer (high 20s). The forecast calls for "continued moderation" this week, a cautious way to say, "Spring is here!"
The sheep are kind of soggy, and two of the Shetland cross ewes are shedding their wool, which means the quality of what's left of their fleeces will be very low. I'm looking forward to beginning the process of shearing on Sunday.
We took the dogs on a long walk last Sunday. Near a dense patch of brush by a rushing creek we heard the first red-winged blackbirds calling, their songs disguised by the cacophony of winter-bird calls. Ken attends to and sorts sound as part of his being, and he was the first to recognize the male's loud, gurgling conk-a-reeeee. When we stopped to listen, we could hear the female's sputtering chatter in the background, uttered just as the male call began (Birdjam, www.birdjam.com/birdsong.php?id=25).
This morning early the dogs and I walked on the flood plain along the river. There are still patches of ice and old snow, and the night's low temperature made for stiff mud and easy walking. The sky was overcast and a few birds were evident, mostly woodpeckers, sparrows, and cardinals; we didn't hear the conk-a-reeeee of a red-winged blackbird. As we climbed the last hill toward home, a lone Canadian goose, honking, flew overhead headed southwest, and then a single snow goose, northbound, passed just above the trees, honking in a higher pitch. The time to find nesting grounds and mates is upon them all.