Spring means a working landscape

April 22, 2013

Spring has sprung even if it isn’t as warm or as moist as we often think of spring. However, as weather goes in the spring here in the Great Valley, if you don’t like today’s weather, stick around, because tomorrow’s will be different.

Spring on the farm is full of new beginnings. Calves, lambs and kids are born and chicks hatch. The renewing of the land begins, as well as the wheat, rye, barley and pastures green up.

Spring also comes with lots of activity and smells. There is the smell of freshly turned soil, and of course, the smell of manure. As I heard an old farmer once say, “it smells like money.” This is a sentiment I doubt his suburban neighbors shared.

Love it or hate it, you live in an agrarian community where the hope and promise of spring brings smells, noises and inconvenience you might not have thought of when you moved here. I must caution you, however, the beautiful landscape that drew you here is a working landscape.

I believe most people understand that and even tolerate the smells.

What I have found that gets under most people’s skin is the slowing of traffic by farm machinery. Folks, tractors cannot drive as fast as cars and they have every right to share the road. When people are in a hurry, which seems far more common today, it is because they have not allowed enough time. What happens is their poor planning has now caused someone else an emergency.

While you cannot plan for a tractor slowing traffic, next time, just think of it the same way you think of a school bus or road construction, a necessary inconvenience.


School buses deliver our children to school, construction improves the roads and farmer feed us; seems like an even trade to me.

Now a word to the farmers, safety is job one. Use escort vehicles whenever possible, and always when using over-sized machinery.

With the increase of road work in the area, it is a good idea to scout your route. Nothing can be worse than getting to a construction zone and having to make a very awkward and sometimes dangerous u-turn because your vehicle is too large to fit through the construction barriers.

Also, be courteous, pull over when safe and possible and allow the long line of traffic behind you to pass. Contrary to popular belief, you are not leading a parade. On the other hand, drivers, please be patient. You are not driving an ambulance nor do you want to end up riding in one.

I will never forget the time I was eastbound on U.S. 40 pulling a mower as far on the shoulder as I could get. Another guy is headed west toward me also pulling a hay mower and don’t you know someone had to squeeze between us. In another 100 yards, there would have been no passing issue.

So slow down and enjoy the beautiful countryside you call home.

Jeff Semler is an Extension educator, specializing in agriculture and natural resources, for the University of Maryland Extension. He is based in Washington County. He can be reached at 301-791-1404, ext. 25, or by email at

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