Guest column: Spring is a great time to enjoy the outdoors

Greetings, dear readers! It’s been a while since we visited on these pages. How have you been?

Here on the farm, we’re luxuriating in the green and growth of spring. The cows are happily grazing and relaxing on fresh, new grass. The contentment runs deep for me, too, after weary months of winter chores. In the sheep paddock, the new lambs are gamboling about with and upon their mothers – so fun to watch.

Mornings begin before dawn with the cheery songs of robins. They are busy building nests here and there in sheds and trees. The barn swallows are back, chittering on the wires and swooping to catch insects on the fly.

Today I saw a bright yellow goldfinch in the front yard, like a smooth and animated flower, pecking at dandelion seeds. I stood for quite some time watching it bending over the stalks to reach more seeds.

Next, an indigo bunting caught my eye, and I remembered how Paul was reading the news to us yesterday that millions of migrating birds are expected to come through our area these days. I was honored to see a couple of them. Well, I’d be even more honored if they’d stick around. We do have a few goldfinches throughout the summer, especially when we grow sunflowers, and they are also the reason I don’t destroy every last bull thistle, since they love the seeds.

The grandkids and I have taken some lovely field trips the last couple of weeks to some nearby parks. I had read about Dayton Bluffs Preserve in The Times, actually, and had been wanting to check it out. We found that a spring day was a great time to hike the trails, see blooming wildflowers, and admire the variety of trees beginning to send out their tiny and tender leaves. The playground made almost entirely of wood products from the park added to the nature experience.

Next, we want to gather up some cousins to visit Hickory Knolls in St. Charles, where we hope to meet Pam Otto, author of the “Good Natured” column we enjoy so much.

Speaking of opportunities we read about in this newspaper, I must tell you about our excursion last summer on the Sainte Genevieve riverboat. We brought my mother, who had just celebrated her 100th birthday, and she was thrilled, as were my grandkids. We gazed in wonder at all the sights along the riverbank, spying too many eagles to count and several deer, among other wildlife.

The boat had such a community family feel, with the chatty narrator sharing bits about the history and industry along the shore. The captain even invited the kids to take turns steering the boat. Some jumping fish at dusk created quite a splash. I think it’s pretty special that we have our own riverboat in town, and I’m planning to take more visitors on it this summer.

Well, that’s it for now, friends. It’s been nice to catch up, and maybe I’ll see you around this summer – at the fair or in the parks. I hope you, also, are out enjoying the blessings of the great outdoors this lovely season.

Winifred Hoffman, of Earlville is a farmer, breeder of dual-purpose cattle and a student of life. She can be reached at

Have a Question about this article?