Spring Musings at Hemlock Lane: Life Beyond Mud

Spring Musings at Hemlock Lane: Life Beyond Mud

If you are lucky enough to raise animals at your own home, you know that every climate has its ups and downs, especially for horses. There is no more truth to that than raising horses in Northern Ohio.  Hemlock Lane Farm is nestled in a bucolic New England styled Village, Chagrin Falls, along a stunning River corridor known as River Road, considered one of the most scenic road ways in the United States.  We do summers here in epic proportions with gorgeous gardens, magnificent baskets laden in veriegated trailing annuals, stunning topography with gorgeous lazy views from flagstone porches as the sunsets.  


 Hemlock Lane Farm in the Spring

But we also do Winter and the older we get, it seems the unkinder Mother Nature gets. Positioned in what is called the snow belt, we are the recipients of a fierce Alberta Clipper that comes right across Lake Erie and barrels down on a very precise streak of exaggerated snow that comes right across the Eastern Suburbs of Cleveland. The easy logic to calculate our local snow fall is to simply double the accumulation of what the balance of the state receives, especially until Lake Erie freezes over.  


 One of the much used sinks at Hemlock Lane Farm

And our winter apparel speaks volumes as well.  Derek comes into the laundry room covered in mud leaving a distinct trail behind him.  Then the dogs trot in and spread the love. For 3 months my mop just sits in the utility sink ready to go and the washer runs non-stop.

And the problem for the horses is when that snow melts, before we dry out in late Spring, that moisture and water stays with us in the form of mud.  So much mud that the other day my wonder farrier looked at me, sighed and said that mud fever has defeated us all.  I think I may actually have mud fever.  Our Percheron girls (click to see ground driving video) are usually out in our pastures at least 20 hours a day,  They come in for breakfast hay and grain in their stalls, get a check over and once they are done with their hay they go back out for a repeat at dinner.  As long as we don’t have freezing rain or lightning storms they are out all night.  It’s so much better for them all of the way around and they much prefer it.  

However, those grey mares toy with our emotions daily.  There is a Pig Pen Mud Rolling Event everyday.  It’s part of their mid morning coffee klatch.  Shoes get routinely sucked into the abyss, never to be found and when even the dry paddock isn’t so dry, things always look better on the other sides of the rails. Why not lean into things and give it your best shot? 



 One of my favorite ways to vase flowers- a canning jar!

So Spring must come every year in the nick of time and it comes with our eternal optimism and an intense longing to savor every ounce of new found warmth and sunshine it brings with it.  For me, here at the farm, it’s the longer days of sunlight and the glorious flowers.  The mud gradually, but quietly recedes and somehow, we manage to forget the winter struggle and embrace an entire new season. The peepers start signing at night.  We have time to start warming the Percheron Girls back up to driving in the early evening hours that still afford us light. We start mowing, one of my favorite chores on the Farm as I gain an uncanny familiarity with every fence post, corner, nook and cranny of the property.  I see where the beavers are hiding up by the lake; where the coyotes have been and where the deer have shed their antlers. I dodge and duck the growing tendrils through the grapevines, which get bigger and broader each week.  I count the peach buds on the old white peach tree. An hour on my tractor is worth at least 2 therapy sessions.


 One of my favorite spots in Spring, behind the farm house.

So we persist another year through the whirling snow and slimy mud so that we can welcome back all of those beautiful flowers, sights and sounds, critters and creatures and rejoice that those beautiful Grey Percheron girls look dreamy and beautiful again in their shines coats; albeit maybe a bit whiter each summer.

All the best,


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