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Month: November 2014

And then the snow fell

And then the snow fell

We have been asking ourselves for the last few weeks, When, when will it come?  By that, of course, we mean the snow.  It defines so much for us, defines what the activity will be on the farm, what we’ll need to focus on, what we’ll need to do.

We’ve rushed and chopped and stacked and cleaned out.  The barn has been shovelled to the earth and repacked with fresh hay, the wood is being split and stacked, the furnace has been cleaned out and turned on.  With King Winter whispering across the backs of our necks we’ve tried to get it all done before the snow fell.  Surely we did try.

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Yesterday the snow began to fall, flurries they called it but it looked like snow to me.  It came and went throughout the day but didn’t look set to stay, much of it was melted not long after it had fallen.  But when we went outside to check on the cows and settle the dog, there was a firm dusting over the ground covering blades of grass with fluffy determination.

Today the world is turning increasingly white, the blanket of snow falling consistently in tingling sharp diamonds that coat my hair within moments.  We did our chores in the snow and we’ve watched as it continued through the morning, hiding away the land beneath it and with it all hopes of getting our chores completed fully.

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There may be time yet, it is possible, I think to myself.  I know this snow may yet fall away and a small renaissance of fall return; after all this is Canada and this kind of weather is what is known as Winter clearing his throat.  It’s only mid-November, I remind myself, it could all go away and the land could return to give us that last and final chance to….insert chore here.

But with more snow on the forecast for the weekend and memories of last winter still achingly fresh in my mind, we are ceding to the inevitable and tucking the farm up for winter.  The last of our meat animals went today, the ducks that were given to us this summer have mostly gone to slaughter.  The pigs need to be re-sited to the main barn as their winter home and there is wood to be split as there always seems to be.  But all these tasks can (and it seems will) be achieved in the snow, with some hurry up needed before Winter decides to fully sing the song of his people.

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But an idea has been forming in my mind, an idea that became gained clarity when I read this article about the Danish concept of Hygge.  Though there is no direct translation into English I feel as though I understand it, deep down inside I think we all do.   To me it is the process of letting go and embracing what is; not just accepting what is in front of us though, but working on making it as lovely as possible.  I am embracing too the Norwegian word Koselig, which roughly means ‘cosy’ but truly means so much more.

Both these ideas, overlapping as they do, share with us the importance of making the best of where we are.  It’s cold and snowy?  Make a fire, light the candles, make it the best possible snowy day it can be.  A season of ice and storms?  Invite over friends, drink, eat and share stories late into the night.   Plans interrupted by weather?  Reach for a blanket or two, break out the biscuits and cosy up with those you love best.  Make it your aim to spread as much warmth and koselig as possible, let them know they are welcome, let them feel cherished.

Winter brings with it many challenges, not the least of which is keeping everyone safe and cosy through the seemingly endless months of cold and snow.  It can feel harsh and unforgiving after the seasons of freedom and openness preceding them.

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But when I see my boys rushing out to enjoy the excitement of the white stuff falling, when I laugh at their creations in the snow and suspend our maths lesson until this afternoon to let them enjoy it even more; when I revel in this brief quiet settling easily upon the house much like the snow outside, I know there is so much joy to be had.

We didn’t get it all done, we just didn’t.  But there is always next year, that alone is a gift that warms my heart.  There is the fire, the sofa, the blankets.  There is the work of hearth and home and the rest of months that demand you stay inside and keep warm.  There will be blue skies and iced rivers to skate on, there will be cancelled plans and illness that can only be mended by days in bed and purple berry medicine.  More than anything there will be us, seeking hygge together.  This winter my mission is to make life as koselig as possible for everyone who crosses my threshold; my family, my friends and the new friends I’ve yet to make. Oh and also the cows, they like a snuggle as much as anyone.

 

Saturday Morning

Saturday Morning

Cold and frosty earth, crumbs left over from breakfast, a roaring fire and stock on the stove.  These are a few glimpses of what I’m seeing here this morning.

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I hope you are cosy, wherever you are.

On a cold and frosty morning

On a cold and frosty morning

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The frost has returned to our little corner, the mornings increasingly dusted with white and the air crisp and pinching our cheeks.  The ground is returning to a solid state, after weeks of sludgey mud that sucks at boots and unexpectedly shifts and slides.

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I’m still clinging to the notion that this is fall, that despite the darkness falling before dinner is ready and the increasingly cold winds that are beginning to blow, that winter is not coming.  But the truth is we feel his breath upon the backs of our necks, a warning that has us worrying and making lists of what we need to do before the big freeze starts.

So much of the work of the year is over, yet there never seems to be a shortage of things to do.  The meat chickens have gone and were all sold, but the laying girls are still here and needing increasing care as the weather gets colder and the bugs are all gone.  The pigs went to slaughter and we now have freezers full of pork, but we still have four animals to care for this winter.   Our Muscovy ducks are ready to go to slaughter, but we’ll be keeping some for breeding next year as well as having the laying ducks to look after too.

Stephen has been feeding the meat ducks up by the polytunnel, we’ll be taking them on Monday so he’s been encouraging them up there so that we can enclose them in when the time comes.  It will feel odd to not have them waiting for us each morning, lurking in a slightly suspicious fashion on the play structure and garden waiting for breakfast to be served.

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The weekend ahead offers our last chance to get the garden dug over and fertilized before the snow begins to fall.  Saturday will be a clean up day, it promises to be clear and dry so good for digging and weeding, good for clearing and burning.  The cow barns need digging out and the year’s worth of compost needs moving to the garden ready for the planting next year.  The polytunnel clean up can wait a little longer as it will stay cosy in there for a few more weeks.

It seems like there is never enough time to get it all done, the season is closing in around us yet I can’t quite seem to let go of the notion that there is still time.  Perhaps it is my love of this year’s garden that is making it so difficult, I’ve so enjoyed the process of putting my hands in the earth this year, of seeing what we made from seeds and time and sunshine.  We still have onions and carrots to pull, and the cold frame is full of nourishing kale and an experimental crop of late carrots; just yesterday I added another row of garlic to the dug over soil ready for the warmth of next year’s spring.

There’s wood to be split and stacked, pipes to be dug out and lagged, clearing up to do.  The last of the harvest is coming in and the freezers are  filling up with the meat we’ve raised this year.  There’s talk of Christmas wherever I go, it’s around the corner apparently, but somehow I’m not quite ready yet.  A part of me is still gardening.  Maybe that’s as it should be.