S|NO|wpocalypse ’17

We were so hoping for a snow day. They’d been calling for a foot or so for us, and everyone was out in force yesterday clearing the stores of eggs, milk, and bread (not to mention the liquor store).  I had no appointments or places to be the next couple days, and was prepared to give the kids a day off from school to play in the snow and enjoy our one and only day of winter.

We got 4 more Pekin ducklings a few days ago, and I  beefed up their bedding and made sure they were good and cozy and the heat lamp wouldn’t be affected by ice or snow.  We have gallons and gallons of kerosene in reserve for the heater, just in case. In short, we should’ve known.

This was our glorious snow storm:

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SO DISAPPOINTING.

It looks like winter has passed us by this year, and we may as well keep on our path to spring.

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So what do you do when you’ve lost out on your much-needed snowday?

First I put together dough for cinnamon bread and made a good strong cup of coffee.

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Then I worked on cutting some pieces for quilting.

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Of course, Widget wasn’t going to allow that to last without some “help”.

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I can’t resist him. I’ve put away the quilting supplies and moved on to transferring some of my seedlings out of the starter kit that Widget keeps sitting on and trying to eat the sprouts out of.

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It was a decidedly NOT snowday thing to do.  It did, however, make me happier about the impending spring and summer weather. I can’t wait for those  juicy tomatoes, fresh off the vine (if I can keep the deer out this year!).

I did make the kids do their schoolwork today, as well. They didn’t mind, since there was no snow outside to frolic in. Plus they were all gathered around the table once the cinnamon bread came out of the oven.

I’ll be making a giant batch of Bolognese sauce and knitting more hats the rest of the day while I resign myself that winter is pretty well done.

Someone better tell my hens it’s time to start laying some eggs!

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Still Waiting

Waiting for winter, waiting for spring, waiting to see if my ewes are bred. If they are, they’re not telling.  If they aren’t, they are getting pretty fat anyway.

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I’ve been organizing my lambing supplies and ordering what I need, just in case. I’ve also been trying not to bother them too much, though that isn’t as easy.  I want to keep my hands on them to make sure they’re gaining enough weight, and checking their mucous membranes for signs of anemia. So far, everything seems okay, but one thing I’ve learned is to never count on it staying that way!

Last year’s baby chicks are finally starting to lay and/or crow, and I’m dreaming of ducklings now. I won’t order any chicks, but if one of our hens decides to go broody, I’ll put together a little maternity ward and hatch some eggs that way.

Signs of spring are definitely everywhere. The buds are really popping on the trees, and daffodils and forsythia are blooming everywhere. Mine are a little bit behind, owing to our little micro-climate in our hollow. It’s tough not to be out every day prepping the garden beds and getting the seeds started, but it’s only February.  Winter has been known to come back and smack us hard in March, so I’m not counting on this warmer weather to last reliably.  I have been out covering over troublesome weed areas with cardboard and feed bags, though. The war against weeds knows no winter!

I’ve also been cleaning up my beehive components and getting them ready for new occupants.  For Valentine’s Day Paul ordered me a new colony set to arrive in April from a local source. It’ll be so good to have bees again! I’m debating moving them a bit closer to the house and away from the neighbor who sprayed bifenthrin all over their property the summer before my previous colony failed. They haven’t done so since, and I’m hoping they won’t again.

On cooler days I’ve been trying to catch up on making stock from the leftover chicken carcasses from dinners. I’ve been keeping them frozen until I had a chance to let them slow cook, and whenever I can, I put them on the stove in my giant  pot and make up gallons of stock. It’s one of the most satisfying things to make in your kitchen!

Despite the warmer temperatures, Pussy Hats have been flying off my needles. I’m on my fourth at the moment, and keep getting requests for more. I’m more than happy to oblige, though I realize I could have finished my Chimney Fire sweater a few times over by now!  It is gratifying though to have smaller projects that work up quickly and are portable enough to bring to appointments during the week.

Maybe my sweater will be done before winter is, but it’s not looking like it. Secretly (or not…), I AM still hoping for one good wallop of snow before spring.

Fingers crossed.

 

 

 

Makers Gotta Make!

What have you been doing with your January?

I haven’t been as productive as I’d like, given my broken finger, but I’m doing what I can. I’m knitting quite a bit, but it’s very slow going (again, finger), and I’ve gotten very little farm work accomplished (though honestly, being that it’s winter, there’s not much to do on that front). I’ve been trying to check the ewes to see if they’re possibly bred, but I can’t catch them right now to really check.  Most times I go out there and crouch down to keep them comfortable with me out there (to observe what I can), and I have to leave after a few minutes because the goats seem to think I’m a climbable object.

As for Orzo, he’s adapting to being inside. It’s become abundantly clear that he is Paul’s dog. Figures!

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And I apologize for the blurry photo, but he absolutely refuses to sit still once he sees the camera out.

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School is continuing along, seemingly at a snail’s pace. The cats have made quite a distraction of themselves lately, stretching out all over the table in the sun while we are trying to work.

Oona has been focused on the Harry Potter series. And when I say focused, I mean obsessed.  She’s halfway through book 4, and she’s watched all of the movies, at least 3 times. We signed her up with a Pottermore account, and she was sorted in Slytherin House. When she seemed puzzled about that, I explained that, when given a choice between love, family, home, etc, she chose power. Of COURSE she’s a Slytherin!

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She’s embraced it fully, using all of her christmas money for Slytherin regalia.

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She and Paul spent last weekend working on carving a wand for her.  All it needs is some varnish.

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It fits her hand perfectly.

While she has been working on crafting Slytherin items, I’ve been working on making hats. Slowly, but surely, enough for each of us will be complete. I know I could be actually finishing up my sweater (I’m stuck on sleeve island, as my friend Tanya would say), but this feels more important.

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I’m hoping things will be calm enough at home the next few weeks that I can spend all my time working through my yarn stash.

A good snowstorm would help with that! Hint, hint, Mother Nature!

 

Quiet

Our post-holiday hibernation has begun.

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On New Year’s Eve we went to a beautiful wedding – our dear friends Heather and Terry. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more beautiful wedding. I also cannot conceive of a better way to have ushered out the old year. Maddie and John were there with us, and afterward we waited for midnight and welcomed 2017 (and let’s be honest, told 2016 to go f*ck itself) with our friends the Stowells.

The next day I took down the tree and hauled it out to the flock to snack on.  It was a bit of a wet and muddy start to the year, and though I’m out making sure the shelters are dry for them, it’s just been too gross out to do much more with them lately. It’s likely too early to be able to check for any kind of udder development, and they’re not too keen on being chased around anyway.

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I am enjoying the winter light, though, and the cozy feeling inside.  This time of year all I want to do is bake bread, and in the interest of hygge and making winter enjoyable for everyone, I’ve been doing just that as much as I can.

We also decided to make Orzo a house dog. He simply could not be contained on our property, and hasn’t seemed to taken to the guarding life. He’s more of a chaser – which is great if you have tons of acreage and another dog or two to stay with the flock . We simply don’t have the land for that, and he never seemed happy out there. So, we cleaned him up and brought him in, and though I think he’d still rather be outside roaming, he has adjusted to being an indoor pet, and is for the most part very chill.

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He’s filled in right where Cini left off. He loves the cats and they love him. He and Pippa get along just fine. He’s also mostly adjusted to being walked on a leash.

Except.

Except that we got a few inches of snow this week. Just enough to be a light covering, melt slightly, and refreeze into ice. When I took him out the other night, as usual, I brought a heavy maglight  flashlight and let him do his business. On the way back in, I started up the stairs to the back deck, and he…didn’t. He pulled to my left, away from the deck, and I slipped on the icy steps, and fell into the shed and bannister. My ring finger got caught and smashed under the weight of me plus the maglight. And broke.

So that was fun! I’m in a splint for 4-6 weeks while it heals. Paul’s been on Orzo walk duty since, and Orzo’s made himself snuggly for me in the meantime.

And yes! I did mention snow!

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Not much, just a couple of inches. Still, enough to be lovely.

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As for Sabine, she doesn’t seem fazed at all that Orzo isn’t out there with her. She’s always slept among the sheep and stood guard, even when Orzo beckoned her to play.  She is a true guard dog, and bonded to her flock. And she loooooooves the snow! When it was falling she was rolling around in it and looking quite pleased. Given the choice between her shelter and the snow, she’ll take the snow, every time. Hopefully this won’t be the extent of our winter weather this year!

Solstice

“And so the Shortest Day came and the year died

And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world

Came people singing, dancing,

To drive the dark away.

They lighted candles in the winter trees;

They hung their homes with evergreen;

They burned beseeching fires all night long

To keep the year alive.

And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake

They shouted, reveling.

Through all the frosty ages you can hear them

Echoing behind us – listen!

All the long echoes, sing the same delight,

This Shortest Day,

As promise wakens in the sleeping land:

They carol, feast, give thanks,

And dearly love their friends,

And hope for peace.

And now so do we, here, now.

This year and every year.”

 

Susan Cooper

 

It’s the Winter Solstice, once again. Slowly but surely the light will come back now, as we round the year and tilt toward summer again.  But first, winter is upon us (though it remains relatively warm here, and aggravatingly snow-free). It felt fitting to spend the day baking cookies and enjoying each other’s company. In the late afternoon I took my usual walk around the pastures and found my center among the natural world.  This is my favorite time of year for walking in the woods and bringing treats to the sheep. Though low, the stream is full of tiny minnows. The dried-up weeds and vines and fallen trees become like hedgerows, teeming with birds. You’d be forgiven for thinking there was a huge animal crashing about out there, the birds are so plentiful and noisy. It’s hard to get pictures of them; I haven’t got a zoom lens and they fly off in huge clouds of winds and chirping if I get too close.

I can see now that the small, wild holly trees are thriving, and I’m hoping I can transplant them at some point to a better location. I also found the remains of a skunk in the back pasture, who I assume was killed by one of the many hawks we see out there every day. We’d been smelling the pervasive scent rather strongly back in October, but never found the source.

After dinner the girls and I bundled into the car and we set off for our yearly viewing of Christmas lights. It seemed fitting on the night of the Solstice to celebrate the colorful lights people have on their homes.

Happy Solstice, all. May your days be long and bright, and your nights warm and cheerful.

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Gearing Up For Christmas

We are finally starting to really feel some of the holiday spirit we’ve been needing. I won’t give all the credit to gluhwein and egg nog, but it certainly hasn’t hurt!

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Everyone loves the tree!  It feels magical at night with the tree lights and the heady scent of fresh pine. If only we’d get some snow, to complete the effect.

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We’ve only just begun our cookie baking in earnest, and I’m definitely feeling the crunch. We’ve managed to get some pfeffernusse done today and I’m working on linzer cookies next. Tomorrow I’ll put the kids to work making the iced cookies.

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Oona’s been working on her Christmas gift knitting in between devouring chapters of Harry Potter.  She’s completely obsessed right now, and I couldn’t be happier. I told Paul that since she was too young to really appreciate Harry Potter World when we went to Universal Studios that we’ll have to taker her again!

Tonight we are watching It’s A Wonderful Life while I frantically work on more cookies, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.