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This winter has been a long one. Like most of you moms and dads out there, your kids have been probably driving you a little crazy. The good news is there are great things you can do to get your kids psyched for spring and sunshine. 

Start an outdoor garden indoors

The ground may still be frozen, but now is a perfect time to start seeds indoors. Using a planting calendar on, Brian and I picked the crops we wanted to start. We bought seeds and mini-greenhouse at Talmage Agway in Riverhead and are getting vegetables ready to plant after the last frost. The seeds we planted March 14 are already beginning to sprout, and by the end of April we hope to get all of them outside.

Check out the chicks

Every year around the beginning of March, Riverhead Free Library gets a delivery of eggs. This year, the eggs are set to hatch March 31 and you can visit the chicks until April 3, before they’re taken to a farm. Also, Talmage Agway will be having “Chick Day” Saturday, March 21, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. You’ll be able to meet baby chicks and hear presentations on how to raise them in your own backyard.

Hunt for eggs

Easter is April 5, and the Bunny will be hiding eggs all over the North Fork. Orient Beach State Park will have an egg hunt Saturday, March 28, beginning at 11 a.m. and participants can enjoy hot dogs and hot chocolate. The Big Duck will have also its annual “duck egg” hunt Sunday, March 29, beginning at 1 p.m. A special prize will be awarded to the finder of the golden egg. Riverhead Town Recreation Department’s egg hunt will take place March 28, beginning at 9 a.m. at Stotzky Park. Children up to age 14 may participate in various time slots, beginning at 9 a.m. Mattituck Park District will host its egg hunt Sunday, March 29, beginning at 1 p.m. at Veteran’s Park. The Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center also hosts an annual penguin egg and Easter brunch Sunday, April 5, beginning at 10 a.m.

Visit a farm

Even though there’s still snow on the ground, you can go and check our animals at many local farms. We recently paid a visit to one of our favorites: Goodale Farms in Aquebogue. You can visit with the goats and purchase some of the cheese, butter and meat at the farm stand. Even in the cold weather, the goats were still pretty excited to see Brian and Evan. Probably because they thought the boys were bringing them food.

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day (again)

There’s still time to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on the North Fork. The last local parade of the season will take place Saturday, March 28, in Jamesport, hosted by East End Emerald Society. The parade will step off at 1 p.m. and will march down Main Road. Get there early to get a good spot and keep some extra blankets in the car (just in case).

Check out the playgrounds

Before Memorial Day, crowds and town beach sticker requirements, visit local playgrounds and parks. One of our favorites is Veteran’s Park in Mattituck. Brian and Evan have been going there since they were babies, and have been recognized by many caregivers outside of the park. You may still need winter coats to play on the playground, but you can pretty much guarantee that your kids will have the slides and swings all to themselves.

So what if the temperatures are barely pushing 40? So what if the weather forecast is calling for snow? You and your kids can still have a blast while you wait (and wait) for warm weather to get here. Just don’t put those hats and gloves away quite yet…

Laura Huber