Blog Summer is Upon Us

Blog Summer is Upon Us

Summer is upon us, though you'd never guess it from the weather. While other parts of the country have had temperatures in the 90s and above, here in the Northeast it has been rainy and cold. The peas and lettuce love these conditions; unfortunately, so do the weeds and slugs. My lawn and my neighbors' lawns have turned from green and lush to wild and overgrown—it's just too wet to mow. The same goes for the farm pastures on the outskirts of town. Most of the fields around here went through their first cut before the rainy spell, but a few farmers waited (or just weren't able to get to it), and may be having regrets.

You might think that haying is basically like mowing a lawn on a much larger scale, but it's really a mixture of science and art. The grass (actually a mixture of different grasses, clover, and alfalfa) in the pastures has to be harvested at its most nutritious—neither too early nor too late. Farmers need a good stretch of dry weather for the many steps of harvesting—mowing, teddering, raking into windrows, and baling—three days at least. A downpour, or even a drizzle, can turn the hay from premium quality feed to mulch. So "make hay while the sun shines" is more than an empty saying.

Of course, any day now, the sun will shine, turning the atmosphere tropical. Then the puddles, streams, and grass will dry up, and by the end of July, backyard gardeners like me will be grudgingly pulling out the watering cans and hoses, and longing for the sight of large, dark clouds in the sky.

Rain or shine, summer means gathering with family, friends, and neighbors for picnics and cookouts—starting with the 4th of July. Next week I'll tell you what we do to celebrate, and I'll share a decorating idea for an easy, impressive dessert. What are your 4th of July traditions?