In a normal year we start the spring harvest in February. We are accustomed to dealing with some snow which we push away from the crown of the shrubs with our feet in order to cut as low as possible on the plant. Normally, this snow melts quickly and we find ourselves dealing with mud. The winter of 2014 delivered more snow than we have ever experienced on The Branch Ranch. We watched the weather forecasts, hoping for warm temperatures and rain to melt the snow but none came.
In the end we were forced to begin the harvest in late March, walking on top of the snow at first and eventually sinking through to knee level with every footstep. When the snow was soft we had to stomp around every plant to get the maximum length out of each branch but we hit an ice layer under the snow from the December ice storm which was impenetrable until the last week of cutting.
And before we knew it the harvest was over, the sun came out, the pussy willows burst into flower and the bees appeared. Pussy willows are nature's earliest pollinators and the bees love their yellow, fuzzy flower heads. Such is the pussy willow harvest...always unpredictable but full of the promise of spring.