Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Winter Is Here!

We had our first snowfall of the season yesterday, a good 10-12"! And it's snowing gently again as I type this.

First snowfalls are so magical, aren't they? Time always seems to slow as the grass, the gravel drive, the garden beds slowly disappear. There is a stark beauty to the landscape in winter. I love how a dusting of snow can intensify the landscape, make me notice things I hadn't before; the exact contours of the bog rising out of the pond, the old fence post in the prairie, the stump or rock on the forest floor, the prints of the animals that used our driveway in the night. Most of all, I love the gentle hush that seems to fall over the land once it's blanketed in white powder. Winter feels intimate, close. It calls for staying indoors, quieting the body and the mind. The days are short, the land asleep. It is time to be contemplative and restful. Turn inward. Reflect. Feel the solitude, and be at peace.

Winter also conjures up many joyful childhood memories. The epic snow forts we used to build and play in, the hours and hours sledding and making snow angels, snowball fights, moon boots and wet mittens drying by the radiator, rosy cheeks, warm hot chocolate with a double helping of marshmallows.
View of the piney drifts in the pasture from inside the alpaca pen.
Of course, winter for me now also means a few extra challenges. This farm runs mostly on girl power. Without tractors or a working water pump in the barn, chores just got a bit harder and longer. Ever tried to lug 5-gallon buckets of water through knee-deep snow drifts? It's not for the faint of heart! Deep snow also means I can no longer use my garden wagon to haul the muck bucket over to Manure Mountain for dumping. I tried just hoofing it over myself this morning, and whew! That was hard work. 17 gallons of manure is really heavy, guys. So I need to either find a new place that's more easily accessible, or keep a path to the compost pile shoveled/snowblown.
Snow?! Big fat NOPE. Staying indoors, bring more hay, kthanx.
There are new worries as well. Did I buy enough hay? Are the animals staying warm enough? Getting enough exercise? How do I combat drifting snow inside the barn?
Inside the front barn door. How is that snow getting in?!
Quite a few people have hinted to me that these things will eventually break me down, and cause me to hate winter like so many of my fellow Midwesterners (which is so, so weird to me, but a whole other soapbox). But I'm not averse to this kind of hard work. And while I do face 4 or more long months of difficult chores and extra worries, there's also long nights of reading and knitting in front of the fire, mugs of warm tea, bedtime doggie snuggles, glasses of delicious Scotch, Solstice and Hanukkah and Christmas and New Years celebrations.

What do you think? Do you love winter? If not, is there at least a part of winter you can appreciate?

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