The house is probably around the mid-to-low fifties as I remain curled up in the warmth of my bed. Nothing tragic or even uncomfortable, but for us getting used to colder weather for the first time this season... well, it takes some adaptations. Under my sheets I packed a frumpy sweater, hat, and a scarf I finished knitting last night. My clothing slept with me for two reasons.
1. My body heat makes them toasty-warm on cold mornings.
2. Knitter lore.
I was told by my friend Sara—when I first learned to knit with her in a college dorm—that you always sleep with your scarf after you knit it. Get through the night together and you know it is actually "done". So I always have. I like the idea that proximity and and body-heat render a process completed. So I sleep around with my outerwear on some occasions. What can I say? I come from a long line of gypsies from the old country. I'm superstitious.
Anyway, this new scarf, it's a long, chunky thing. Over 5-feet long, and knit with yarn that was more akin to thin roving. It was completed in hours due to it's heft, but in it's natural gray it looks like it is from some other century. I wrap it around my neck and slide on my hat before I brave the world outside of my quilts. When all my sheep-armor is on, I head to task one: the wood stove.
Here is the order of importance in this farmhouse: people, dogs, livestock. Being first in that line I ignore Gibson's cries to go out and chase things. He can wait, the person is cold. Instead of taking out the dogs I head to the back mud room where the hatchet and wood is stacked. I splinter off tiny slivers of wood, then smaller splints, and then cut one decent piece into three smaller pieces. It is my pyramid scheme of fire building. I grab some old newspaper and wad it into a tight ball. I set it inside the stove and start making a little piece of sculpture by placing the thinnest slivers of kindling over the paper, and then slightly larger pieces of wood, and then all the way to the three larger chunks. What I'm left with is an airy teepee with paper in the center. I light it with one match and the system worked. Within minutes the wood stove in the living room is howling. I set the percolator on top of it, (for the novelty and the nostalgia of it all) and when satisfied that this room will be a lot warmer. I call the dogs.
All four of us go outside into the chilly air. Four puffs of lung fog coat the dawn. Three familiar pieces of leather in my chilly hands. This is not going to be a brisk walk. After everyone who eliminates outside was empty: we headed back inside. I fed Jazz and Annie and then Gibson and I headed out to do morning chores, the abbreviated version. I went to the barn and got a bale of hay. I load it in a wheelbarrow and walk it over to the pasture gates. I used to just carry it, but years of carrying it have made my back angry and my doc has suggest I take the pioneer crap down a few notches if I want to walk upright at 60. So Barrow it is! I give a quarter of it to Jasper, who spent the night out in the field. And the rest to the 16 sheep on the other side of the fence. I go through two bales a day here, a little grain. That comes to seven dollars a day to feed the hoof stock. I think it's reasonable, since that same amount won't get me 2 gallons of gas for the truck. I get a lot of mileage out of these guys for 3.50 in second cut.
I decide that the way I know a scarf is done is flecked with hay. The morning work baptized it properly. While Gibson explores the scent of two-day-old weasel piss—I head over to the wood pile. I grab a few more pieces that look to be in service of the cause and hold them close to my chest. I call my dog. I go inside, wood under my arms and close to my heart. The farm house is warm now. The fire is roaring and the mornings efforts both bring me back to a climate of comfortable. I am so grateful for the concoction of wood smoke and caffeine, the remedy to any notion the day won't start well.
In a few hours a driving-experienced Haflinger owner, a friend of a friend, will be here and I'll be holding those black reins in the pasture. After that, Julie Williams is coming by to work on Gibson's herding with me. The last task of the day starts at 2PM with a hay-run to Hebron with Diane Kennedy. My day is packed with activities, friends, and errands all close to home, all within a few miles of this stove, these dogs, this land. It feels correct.