I love living in a place with such varied and diverse weather throughout the year. There is nothing so enlivening as a warm day in April to thaw all thoughts of darkness which have accumulated through February. Likewise, those cool autumn mornings are such a blessing after the torpid heat of summer. The steady cycle of seasons here in the mountains is simply unimpeachable.

I think that working on the farm has given me a heightened appreciation for the spring season in particular. Despite the fact that this winter was relatively mild and we even experienced some balmy days in December and January, I am ecstatic that the warm weather is finally here. Jake and I decided that it is probably because, more than any previous year of our lives, we spent this winter outdoors, enduring the cold and wet. I don’t mean to complain. I know that many people suffer much more severe weather; shorter days, longer winters, and colder temperatures. My hat is off to anyone who works outdoors in Vermont or Montana or Canada or Russia. For them, spring must be almost unfathomably precious when it waltzes in, turning the barren earth green again.

For us at Hickory Nut Gap, spring means daylight after work! It means watching the apples and blueberries and blackberries emit tiny green buds from silvery twigs and branches. It means checking the asparagus patch for the shoots that sprout so quickly from the mulched ground. It means raising chickens again (and trying for all we’re worth to dissuade the hawks and owls and raccoons from taking their fill). It means working in t-shirts and shedding our long johns, sweaters, wool socks, insulated gloves, toboggans, scarves… It means happy pigs, finally out of the barn and into a paddock where they can root and grub and explore. It means new baby goats! It means swarms of bumblebees in the wild cherries and dogwoods. It means basketball after work. It means so much vim and vigor returning to our work and to our lives.

Maybe Jake and I were wrong. Maybe it’s not that we were so cold all winter that makes us appreciate the spring so much now. Instead it could be that we are, like everything else on the farm, ready for spring because it is time for spring. We can all feel that winter has held sway long enough and now we can press on, we can grow and reach out and find new energy in the world that is coming awake.

Nothing hits the spot in early spring like fresh, tender asparagus. In April and May we will have organic asparagus available at the farmstore, grown right here at Hickory Nut Gap. We expect the young spears to start shooting up in the next week, so keep an eye on our facebook page to see when we begin harvesting.

If you’ve never seen asparagus growing, it truly is a fascinating sight. The young spears sprout up out of the ground, emerging like green fingers from the beds. We have to keep a close eye on the patch because if we let them grow too high, they become stringy and slightly bitter. When they reach 6-9 inches we cut them off just above the ground and bundle them together. Asparagus is packed full of nutrients and anti-oxidants and is also a good source of dietary fiber. The crisp spears are excellent as an addition to salads, stir frys, or steamed on their own with nothing more than a pat of butter and a dash of salt.

Our pastured pork chops are on sale this week and next for $7.50 per pound. The weather has finally taken a turn for the better and it’s time to break out the grill and get your chop on! Here is a tantalizing recipe for spicy grilled pork chops that will make for a great spring evening outdoors. http://www.marthastewart.com/316323/grilled-pork-chops-with-spice-paste.

If you want to try some seasonal cooking, this is a recipe that includes fresh asparagus! It’s hard to beat a combination like that. http://www.charmofthecarolines.com/charm-of-the-carolines/2011/10/asparagus-asiago-stuffed-pork-chops.html. The sale ends April 20th so don’t miss out!