Browsed by
Category: Nature Photos

Snowfall

Snowfall

In the heat of summer, when just moving around sets the sweat dripping down your back, we are thinking about winter.  From the first leaf of green peeking up through the mud and snow, to the last red and gold leaves that cover the ground with a luminous carpet, there is another colour that is always on our minds.

White.

Everything we work on, every project, everything we build is centred around the coming season.  From the seeds we plant to put food in the pantry for the colder days, to the wood we chop for the fire and furnace.  Even the animals we raise are there to help see us, and other families, through the long cold months where the earth is buried under a blanket of snow.  Well less of a blanket and more of a duvet 4 ft think.  With a few inches of ice on it just for safe measure.  So a very cold duvet.

We plan for it, we work at it, we build and chop and grow and never stop for months and months; but we are never, ever ready for it.  This year in particular, our wedding took up the month of September and we’ve been trying to catch up on the work every since.  Neither of us regret a moment of that joy, of course, some things are worth getting cold and snowy for.

Over the last few weeks we have finally started to feel that we are ready to head into winter mode.  We’ve had a few trial runs of heavy frosts, cold nights and some snowfalls, but we are used to these slightly faltering starts to the season.  We’ve started to view them as a chance to trouble shoot the farm for the several cold, cold months ahead.  Are there things that aren’t working?  Have the cows eaten through the pipe insulation again?  Will that roof leak when rained on?

Stephen has worked tirelessly since October on the farm infrastructure, resetting power supplies, building new accommodations and setting up new areas for the animals to live in.  We’ve learned to lay the foundations for next year in the fall of the previous year, allowing us to be up and running as soon as the weather allows.


This year we are carrying more animals than ever through the winter, meaning we needed more accommodations than ever before too.  Stephen repurposed a summer chicken tractor as a cosy duck house for the winter, they are happily snuggled in there with easy access to the pond on unfrozen days.  The cows have a new concrete platform for the wet and cold months making it safer for them and easier for us.  The farrowing barn is full with two piglets for spring meat and our lovely Pip (seen above) who will be bred for the first time this winter.

And the piece de resistance is the hay bale pig house that Stephen built for Mrs B. and Arthur the boar.  Using old bales that were no longer eating standard, he used the dance floor from our wedding as a roof and created the cosy hobbit house seen above.  The bales keep it incredibly warm with plenty of room for snuggling, hanging out and grown up piggy time that happens when a Mummy pig and a Daddy pig love each other very much.

This year, though I welcome the quietening snow and the lighter schedule the winter months bring, I feel a sense of melancholy too.  Perhaps it is that when I look at the tent frame or the wooden archway built for our wedding, I hear and feel the echoes of family and friends surrounding us.  I remember the bonfires and laughter as we joined together to celebrate not just our relationship, but all the elements that make our life what it is. The farm, our family, our friends, our own children, it’s all part of a puzzle that makes us what we are.

But some of those pieces are far away, not near enough to snuggle or share a joke with.  And I miss them so very deeply.  As the snow falls in a deep, plump carpet over the farm I wish I could share it all with them.  I suppose that is why I am writing this instead, to show them what today looks like, so different from only a short time ago.

But the beauty of this day wasn’t patient with my melancholy moment, it insisted I notice how the snow was so light and fluffy as it can only be in the early part of the season.  It pointed out to me that the piles of flakes building up on branches and buildings were just so delightful, that to be gloomy would be churlish and bad tempered.  As the soft icicles touched my face, one after the other, this day insisted that I notice the now.  That I notice how much this day intends to snow all over us; that I go out and turn my face up to falling flakes and feel lucky as the tiny dabs of silence touch my eyelashes and my house warmed skin.

And so I did.

Morning Walks

Morning Walks

My friend asked me yesterday if I still experience the same enjoyment of where we live or if, after waking up here each day for nearly two years, the excitement has worn off a little.

morning-0017 morning-0018 morning-0022 morning-0023I thought about it a lot as I did my morning chores along with the sunrise, marvelling as each new turn brought a fresh view of golden autumn morning.  Following Winnie on her early constitutional I was afforded such beautiful moments, glimpses of perfection that my heart was lifted and fit to bursting.

morning-0026 morning-0028 morning-0029

There is something so special about this first hour of the day, this beginning time when anything is possible.  Living here, with the sky stretched out above me and the fields rolling away into the golden glow, it is easy to forget the troubles of the world and even those I carry around with me; a heavy bag that slips from my shoulders as I marvel at the simple sights of natural beauty that shift with each step.

morning-0032 morning-0034 morning-0035As our walk comes to a close I laugh at Winnie emerging from her morning ‘bath’ in the pond, the steam rising around making it look like an expensive spa.  I walk slowly along, in no rush for this time to end, enjoying the crisp air, the sunshine peeking through the hedge tinting everything with a bronze glow.  I breathe the air and watch the last few stars in the sky wink out, over taken by the stretching sun of a beginning day.

So in answer to my lovely friend’s question, do I love it as much as I ever did?  Of course the answer is yes, every day and more tomorrow.  And that is a good thought to start the day on.

At the Edge of the World

At the Edge of the World

One of the things I have missed, right down to my very bones, has been living by the sea.  There is nothing, nothing, like the feeling of walking along the shore line; the freshness of the air, the openness of the sky, pure bliss.

edge-8125 edge-8127 edge-8133 edge-8135 edge-8139We’d originally only intended to pop to the beach for half and hour or so, but the burning blue sky and the fresh wind beckoned us on.

edge-8150 edge-8155 edge-8163We leaned into the wind, walking up the hillside to the rocky path on the headland above.  Jutting out into the water it felt like exploring our own little island, a miniature England of rugged grasses and endless sky.

edge-8168 edge-8169 edge-8170 edge-8171Time slipped away from us as we moved onwards towards the thinning tip of this mini peninsula.  On either side the land fell away to the rushing waves below, blowing away any thoughts beyond the beauty of our surroundings and the precarious trek to the outermost point.

We held on tightly to smaller people’s hands, walking slowly over rocks polished by the elements and the feet of those making the same journey.  But the sea had a magnetic pull, drawing us all as far as we could go.  Then we stood and regarded the beauty of the light shimmering on the incoming tide.

edge-8177 edge-8179 edge-8183 edge-8187Half an hour turned into two and half, a short walk turning into something of an adventure.  By the time we arrived back at the car we were all feeling a little shaky in the leg department, luckily dinner came wrapped in a salt and vinegar parcel so we were all fed and watered in no time.

I think I found a little bit of myself, up on the cliffs today.  On the way home I was filled with energy and joy, astonished at the beauty of what we had witnessed, grateful for the chance to simple walk and see and feel it all.  As I write this the house has settled into silence, boys (old and young) are fast asleep, weary bodies resting gratefully on comfy beds.

But my tiredness can’t quite compete with the glittering reflections that lit up my eyes and heart.  I can still feel the wind on my skin, making off with extraneous thoughts and leaving only what matters behind.  The joy of the moment, the bliss of nature at her spring time best and of course the view, the most amazing view, from that little place out at the edge of the world.

Pathways

Pathways

A thaw has arrived, bringing with it the illusion of spring and melting.  The crunchy, powdered flakes of snow have become slick, slippery ice that tricks our feet and trips us as we tumble into the warming sun.

We turn our faces to the beaming light, rejoicing in the lack of pinching and biting in the winter air.  But the ice beneath makes everything seem a little treacherous, a little unsure.

pathways-7571 pathways-7573pathways-7572

As I watched the chickens tuck into their treats of carrots and apple mush, I tore apart a hay bale to cover the slippery, shining pathways that our feet have made through the snow.  From our house to theirs we trudge each day, stamping down the fluffy coating that rain and sun have made hard and smooth.  The hay tears apart easily, releasing its bound shape and settling on the white ground, enhancing the illusion that spring has arrived.

The brown and green path cuts through the endless white and blue of snow and winter shadow.  It feels as though it sprung up from beneath, like a goddess of spring walked that way and brought life back to the earth with her magical toes.  The robust scent of summer blows up from the torn bale, the grass releasing its dusty fragrance and its memories.  I am transported to the field where it was cut, the sunset of that day and the gentle warmth of a dying summer evening.

pathways-7575pathways-7579pathways-7588

The chickens watch my work with more than usual disapproval.  Their judgmental gaze amuses me as I move carefully around, trying to avoid the trap of becoming over confident and slipping.  I am not so young that I enjoy the sensation of suspension and the crash down, I’m fearful of it and so I go gently.  They look around the edge of their canopy and regard me with dinosaur eyes; the eyes of creatures far removed yet comfortingly domestic.

I walk to the house with surer footing, I turn back and watch the chickens investigate the path.  Like me they are freer outside, the warming sun inviting them to venture out beyond the confines of their shelter.  They walk along the path a little, enjoying the lack of icy pinch on their feet, they fluff and cluck their approval.  I laugh and feel pleased with myself, my plan has come to fruition and surprised them out of their grim, old lady frame of mind.

pathways-7586pathways-7593

Suddenly the longing for spring is overwhelming in me, I feel it in my stomach and ache for the green that is momentarily resurrected in the cast down hay.  The longing hits my chest, contracting my heart with the desire to run my hand across soft green blades, to be assured the miracle will return this year as it has every other year.

I cast off the stillness and go about my work, throwing ice and water away on a shovel, listening to the patter of the dripping water returning to the ground.  But the longing for spring remains, it is always there a little.

New

New

So 2013 has officially dawned.  Stephen has gone back to work (after prising the boys and, well, me off his legs) and our school has begun again.  The house is oddly quiet and there is a big man shaped empty space that I’m trying not to think about too much or blubbing will commence.

Are there people who don’t feel sad when their beloved departs back to work after a holiday?  Are there people who think ‘phew, I’m glad to see the back of you’?  I can’t really imagine that there are.  I am definitely not someone who ‘enjoys my space’, I like the connection, the feeling of company that we had all through the holidays.  Sharing each day, each hour together even if we are doing our own thing, separate but together.

Anyhoo, I shouldn’t wax too lyrical or I’ll get myself all sad and today really is a beautiful day.  After a day of snow yesterday the world is even softer and fluffier than it was; I am thankful for the 2 hours of snow blowing and shovelling that Stephen did yesterday to clear the driveway and make paths from the house to the chickens.

new-7553 new-7557 new-7558 new-7560

I think we’ve had more snow in December than we had the whole of last winter.  The piles are everywhere and the landscape has the feeling of being covered by a massive, fluffy duvet.  This morning dawned cold and clear, with a crescent moon hanging bright in the sky, preceding the golden dawning of the sun, finally hitting the trees in the forest as we all launched into a breakfast of oat pancakes with butter and maple syrup.

Every time the snow falls I feel a bit like I’m relearning this place we live.  It is so familiar and yet there are little changes everywhere.  Some things (such as piles of scrap left over from the previous owners) I am glad to see retreating others, like the pond, slip quietly from sight to return again in spring.  I notice the pile of snow on top of the chicken bungalow getting higher and higher, it is at least 2 1/2 feet now, I’m curious to see how big it will get.

Each time Stephen ploughs the drive and pathways he pushes a bunch of snow on top of the toboggan run he made over Christmas.  Beneath the snow are hay bales that the boys have played on since the summer, now they are covered in snow and are creating new entertainment.  They are much more fearless than I am, they slide and skid without worry and I envy them a little.  I’ve never enjoyed that feeling of moving too fast, out of control.  But I love to watch them, alight and alive, full of excitement each time.

new-7561 new-7562 new-7564 new-7569new-7565

After the time inside, the cosy shelter of our family and home over the Christmas season, I feel like I am emerging again.  I have no plans to rush, I want nothing more than to continue the gentle pace of life we enjoyed over the holidays.  I’m happier than ever to keep the busy, concrete world at bay as much as I can.  Instead I’m planning little excursions, to the library, to the feed and seed and out on our own land.

Each day is a discovery, each day we wake up new.

Walking the Woods

Walking the Woods

It is the littlest of things that give the most pleasure I think, small moments that live long in the memory.  On Thursday (after Stephen had been away with work for a couple of days and flew home overnight) we had the rare pleasure of a weekday walk together.  Our friend has cut a hunting trail through our woods, which can also be used for a delightful amble in the late afternoon light.

For me this was the first time I fully walked the woods we’ve owned for 2 years.  So many little delights there were, discoveries and inspirations; but mainly there was just walking, enjoying the fresh air, golden light and the freedom of the sky above us.

Today the sky is burning blue, the ground is white with snow but it will have to remain unexplored as the second of my two boys has fallen victim to a horrid tummy bug (poor Neirin had it on Friday).  So today is about rest, tlc and remembering that walk.  Knowing, of course, that there will be many more in our future.

Friday Morning

Friday Morning

Would you like to take a walk with me?  There’s some chores to do but we won’t notice that, it’s such a beautiful day.

After checking on the animals (feeding, watering, cuddling) it’s time for a little walk around, taking in the view.  Everything is bathed in red gold light, the air is fresh but not cold.  The perfect day for a wander before breakfast.

The bees are being wrapped up for the cold season, despite the warm days we are still having.  We know the cold weather is coming so we bask in every mild day we get.  It is the golden season and we are loving it.  Now our walk is done we can head in for a cup of tea before the busy day begins; looking out of the windows at the evolving day, knowing there is nowhere better to be.