Spring engine is on full throttle out in the mountain meadows

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Tucked up in the Pacific Northwest on the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains, the Puget Sound and its lowlands are nestled in a marine climate. That’s where you’ll find the metropolis which is uniquely Seattle.  Coffee, creativity, style and a class of its own, the locals are outdoorsy and love the natural settings that abound everywhere.  They can be found at play on the many hiking trails and campgrounds located in their own backyard.  When the winter chill has left the air, and the sun seems to visibly be tilting higher in the sky, the beauty of Springtime beckons.  Though the weather is robust and varied, its easy to tune into its rhythms and take advantage of sunny days for some exploring.

Paca Pride Guest Ranch is located in one of those getaway spots.  Only an hour drive north of downtown is the hidden gem of Snohomish County known as the Mountain Loop Highway.  Trails to the ice caves, the old Goldrush Days railroad tunnels, mountain lakes, or beautiful vistas are some of the attractions which can be found amongst the numerous campgrounds that fill up during the summertime.  Without much effort you can have your Sound of Music moment in the fresh air.

Springtime starts in the lowest elevations first, typically when the rains are abundant.  Cherry tree blossoms turn the city into a Dr. Seuss storybook land.  Slowly, Spring creeps upwards in elevation taking almost a month to work

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its way up to the foothills of the Cascades. Inching its way further into the interior of the mountainous frontier, the quickest to blossom are always the warmest of micro-climates.  Usually these are the south facing slopes and meadow areas high and away from the river valley.  It is this secret pocket of a micro-climate that you would stumble upon as you drive up through the Paca Pride log gate.

When the daffodils and tulips are already past their prime in the city, Paca Pride is presenting its Spring colors in full bloom.  The meadow grasses: fescues, ryes, clover, exhibit lush greens that only a llama or alpaca can eye with a deep appreciation as they wait in eager anticipation of grazing on such resplendent, and tasty, new growth. Meadow flowers are getting ready to blossom as the threat of morning frosts are now past.  Protected by a barrier of evergreens on all sides, the plateau that is Paca Pride is a pocket of warmth that offers an earlier start to gardening. 

While our neighbors next to the river still feel the icy chill of the melting runoff, we are already planting our summer crops.  This micro-climate head start gives us a nice growing season that rivals some lowland areas.  We still make use of plastic row covers to give our new plantings the benefit of extra warmth and protection from excessive rains, windy gusts, and chilly morning dew points.  These season extenders create mini greenhouses and warm the soil for those sun lovers like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and squash.  The month of May is all about revving up the garden engine and getting the plants that we started inside, under lights, into the ground with their drip irrigation. 

04-30-09 Tulips in bloom_6 Already we can see the bracken fern shoots coming up from their winter slumber, a good sign that Winter is assuredly gone for the year and Spring is completely in charge of nature’s story now.  Soon our attention will turn to those meadow grasses for some harvesting as fresh feed for the herd.  We don’t own a lawn mower here at the ranch. While that makes a golf course look neat and conforming, we prefer to let grasses grow into their natural form.  Some of them we’ll even let go to seed and help further populate what the herd has eaten down.  Visitors may even find that what are considered weeds on a homeowner’s lawn, are welcomed into the pastoral scene as adding diversity to the ecology. 

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