Winter into spring: March on the farm

With the month of March comes the arrival of spring, symbolising the start of another year’s new growth and a transition following the bleaker winter months. March has often been associated with the saying ‘comes in like a lion, goes out like a lion’, referring to the weather. This was true about this March, with wild weather and strong winds featuring at the beginning of March, before the weather becoming more calm as the month progressed.

As traditional, during March, wildfowl made a sudden departure, fox cubs were born, buzzards established breeding orders, hawthorn and elder broke into leaf, small tortoiseshells emerged, nest building began, small warblers such as chiffchaffs returned from Africa, crocuses flowered, summer visitors began to return, and winter migrants began to migrate to their summer territories.

Though primroses, daffodils, celandines and blackthorn first flowered during February, it was nice to see all these flowers still blooming throughout March. Song birds during March could be heard singing, and the first woodland flowers began to come out at the end of March. The traditional ‘Mad’ March hares also made an appearance, with females resisting the advances of amorous males.

The beginning of Spring is symbolised by lengthening days and increasing temperatures. At the end of March, with the clocks going forward an hour, lengthening days were fulfilled, but this year the increasing temperatures did not make an appearance during March. After the stormier weather at the beginning of March, a cold spell set in, halting the advancement of Spring. This was symbolised with sycamore and silver birch being late coming into leaf, wood anemones and ferns being late to come out in the woods, and Blackbirds nesting late.

On the farm, new lives began during March. Aberdeen Angus suckler cows gave birth to their calves and three of our four mules gave birth to lambs, highlighting one of my favourite parts of the farming calendar.

My highlight of March was beginning to use my new Bushnell camera trap to photograph and video the wildlife on the farm, including the local badgers.

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