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Category Archives: winter

The best day for it

If I had to get locked out of the house in February, this was the right day for it to happen. The sunshine makes the unseasonably warm 58 degrees feel just perfect. The birds are chirping happily, and just beyond the pasture where seven horses graze, the corn stubble simmers in the afternoon light. A perfectly blue sky is a canopy above me.

I admit, I am awfully hungry, and my back aches a bit from sitting in this wooden lawn swing for the last two hours. But all things considered, being locked out of the house hasn’t been nearly as bad as it could have been.

Still, we should have another key made so we can hide it outside.

Attacked! (?)

It isn’t uncommon for  me to see wildlife when I’m out on a run.  Ducks, hawks, killdeer, and of course squirrels and deer often cross my path or come near to my route.  So yesterday as I ran, I wasn’t terribly surprised to hear a rustling in the leaves behind me.  Deer, I surmised.  But how would I have startled the deer when I was already past them?  I turned to look. Three animals stared me in the face, and rather than fleeing from me, they hurtled toward me!

Goats!

I froze.  What does it mean when goats run toward you?  Was I being attacked?

I could just see the headline: “Runner Attacked by Goats Remains in Critical Condition.”

But when they reached me, they stopped.  Where had they come from?  A property three houses south of us has goats, but I was four or five houses north of our home.  It would be strange for them to come so far.  Unsure of what to do, I turned to go, but they followed me.  What now?  Were they friendly?

I scratched one on the head, then another.  Finally, I decided to walk to the closest house to ask where the goats belonged.  But as soon as I turned toward the home, my new little friends galloped back up the lane and behind the house.

Perhaps the goats were hoping for treats.  Maybe they were bringing me their Christmas greetings.  Perchance they just needed a little love.  Whatever the reason, I was surprised and delighted to meet three new four-legged friends.

A Cold One

It’s five degrees outside, and my running partner is in Florida.  I stand at the door, looking at the thermometer, pondering.  The dogs need to go out, so I open the door and step outside.  It’s surprisingly lovely.  The sunshine is inviting and the birds twitter to me, saying it’s not really so cold.  I know they’re lying, but I resolve to do it anyway.

My running buddy texts me, saying, “Ran in shorts and a t-shirt but my thumbs were cold.”  I scowl and growl as I put on two pairs of pants, a running skirt, two pairs of socks, three shirts, a fleece, and plenty of gear to cover my hands and face.  Out the door I go.

The air is crisp and clear, and despite the cold, I inhale deeply.  The action of my muscles warms me.  The sun beams out of a cloudless blue, and as I reach the intersection that marks the halfway point, birds chirp from their hiding places, encouraging me onward.

No one else is outside on this cold morning.  Even the cars seem to hide in their garages.  If I had stayed in, though, I’d have missed seeing the family of ducks gliding through the frigid river, and hearing the downy woodpecker tattooing an irregular rhythm in the topmost branches of a hackberry tree.

The wind kicks up as if to tell me to quit dawdling, hurry home.  I oblige, picking up the pace for the last quarter mile and pulling my hat more securely over my ears.  Back home now, it’s tempting to stay out, so I relax for a few minutes in the lawn swing, wondering what the neighbors would say if they saw.  But nature calls in another way, so I breathe in the fresh air once more, and head back into the house.

Sad Sally

On a cold day a couple of weeks ago, Husband said we had a sick chicken. She was standing in one place and moving very little. She was not following the other chickens around. She wasn’t eating or drinking. She wouldn’t even eat meal worms, which is like crack for chickens, so we knew something was wrong. Husband said she seemed despondent.

Since we wanted to make sure she didn’t infect the other chickens with whatever she had, Husband put Sad Sally in her own little cage in the rabbit barn. There is a heat lamp in there, and she seemed to perk up and begin drinking water. Finally, she stepped out of her cage and Husband thought perhaps she was on the road to recovery. He placed her back with the rest of the flock.

Perhaps it was too soon, or maybe she just was never going to make it, but a few days later, Sad Sally was dead.

We think perhaps she just got too cold and wasn’t hardy enough to survive her first winter.

This week, the forecast shows even colder temperatures than what made Sad Sally suffer. Wind chills below zero had us a little concerned. There is a large door-sized window in our coop, and we thought we’d better do something about that to make sure the rest of the chickens don’t get too cold. I had an old shower curtain, and this morning we stapled it over the opening. However, I hadn’t considered that the cold temperature would make the plastic brittle, so the staples were tearing the plastic. Clever Husband put staples in the top where the plastic is reinforced, and folded the sides over to help make it stronger. It’s better than nothing, but if the winds are really strong, the plastic may tear loose anyway.

We still have the plank of wood we had cut out of the shed to make the door, so we carried it to the window and rested it against the opening. It should block some of the wind, at least, holding the plastic in place, and hopefully it will be enough to avoid more sad chickens.

And next time we build a chicken coop, we’ll keep these weather concerns in mind, perhaps by having an actual storm door.

We’re always learning something on our little farm.

The Nice Thing About Being 40

A few nights ago, I was having a really rough time.  I was feeling lonely and discouraged and down on myself.  I was reading a book and lamenting that I will never write as well as that author.  I was feeling pretty worthless, when it comes right down to the truth.

But even in the midst of my tears, I knew something.  This will pass.  It is largely a symptom of winter, when the gray clouds fill the sky and the temperatures chill my bones.  When April comes and the warm breezes ruffle my hair and the trees and flowers bloom, I will feel much better about life.

It’s one really good thing about being middle-aged.  I know myself better than I ever have before.  I know that winter is hard for me.  Rules I’ve made for myself include that I’m not allowed to make major decisions in the winter, and I’m not allowed to label myself in the winter.  Things always are brighter — both literally and metaphorically — in the spring.

And a December sunrise like this one always serves to lift my spirits, too.

IMG_0063[1]

Towels and Blankets

It’s cold out.

We’ve been trying to get to the rabbits at least twice a day to change out their frozen water bottles, but even so, the bottles are frozen solid by the time we get there.  Since school was closed yesterday and today, I should be able to change out the bottles three times.  Stephan put a small heater in their barn last night, so hopefully the rabbits will be okay.

The windows in this new house are only single-pane windows.  While they have often been clouded with condensation this winter, now they are covered with ice.  Yesterday I put my hand next to a couple of the exterior doors and felt a breeze.  They really need weather stripping or storm doors and the windows need storm windows or plastic covering.  Not having any of that at the moment, I improvised.

IMG_0014[1] IMG_0015[1]Blankets and towels over the windows and doors.

Brrr.

Sunny Winter Day

SONY DSCIt may be cold out, but it’s finally sunny.  And that means laundry on the line!