Saturday, January 29, 2011

freezer full

Friday, January 28, 2011

thanks from jackson

I've been resting, if you've been wondering. I come home from work, see to the dogs and the farm, and then eat a meal, make some tea, and get to bed. I haven't been writing here much only because it was one less thing to think about in a very chaotic squall of misfortune recovery. But things have been warming up, calming down, and I can feel myself feeling better.

Thank you for the letters, emails, donations, packages and kind words that helped pull me out of my winter funk. One person made me dinner and cookies (a chili mix and some ginger snaps), another sent me books and jam, one package from Alaska had an antique reindeer ornament that hangs in my kitchen. I appreciate them all, so much, and I hope to be mindful enough to send proper thank you notes (today someone sent me note cards, so I think that's the Universe telling me to get on that...). It is quite the feeling of kindness and looking-after I get from these parcels. All from complete strangers, too. It is wonderful. It is the community here that keeps me going some days. I am told by some people this farm is an inspiration, but the secret is it is easy to do the impossible when you have your own support group a few clicks away. From the baling twine of my heart, I thank you.

Tonight will be much like the rest of this week: some repose and a book. I still feel tired, but I think that has more to do with the end of the week than anything else. And hey, days are getting longer. It was sunny until after 5 here. Before you know it, it will be March and my heartbeat will be in the tempo of lambs.

Tomorrow: Pig. Check back for a pork post with pictures.

P.S. NPR's The Splendid Table will be airing an interview with me tomorrow, download it here!

P.S.S. I'm getting a Bun Baker Wood Stove! We're working out an advertising barter! Now I have to start saving for a chimney!

stockdog photography

I found the photography of Danielle Shank online, and I adore it. Her ability to capture the heart and eyes of working dogs is amazing. You can flip through her galleries and almost taste the dust and snow in the air. Makes me wish I was on the trial field.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

added elevation

So despite the last few weeks of blizzards, dead transmissions, frozen pipes, sore muscles, truck repairs, frozen animals, office stress, ditches, drainage, and fatigue: I think it is finally coming to an end. The animals that made it through seem okay. I am fine. Really. I'm not losing heart, being poisoned by carbon monoxide, or falling out of love with this farm.

I think I just never anticipated this sort of cold-weather chaos. I have lived here for years now, but the game changed. I learned, pretty damn fast, how different the life of a renter in a 1950's cabin with a Subaru is to being the owner of a Civil-War era farm with a light pickup truck. The intense cold, and extra-heavy snowfall has been helping to underline these differences. I'm getting it though. With everything that goes undone, I'm learning who to call, how to react, and the right gear to slide into on a slushy decline. The only way to absorb these lessons is to need them. There's a lot of that going on around here. it's an uphill battle, and every experience is a little added elevation.

Another storm you say?

Bring it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

biting your tail

May your eyes be wide and seeing
May your learn from the view where you're kneeling
Know the fear of the world that you're feeling
Is the fear of a slave
May you know how the fire was started
Want as much for the snake as the garden
Wear them both like a glove that you can wave

May your mouth betray your wisdom
May you get what they fail to mention
May your love be your only religion
Preach it to us all
May you lose what you offer gladly
May you worship the time and it's passing
Stars won't ever wait for you to watch them fall

We're the smoke on a burnt horizon
We're a boat on a tide that's rising
both the post and the pig you're untying
Butcher gone for the blade
Someday we may all be happy
Someday all make a face worth slapping
Someday we may be shocked to be laughing
At the way you behave

May your hands be strong and willing
May you know when to speak and to listen
May you find every friend that you're missing
There's no check in the mail
May you end up bruised and purple
Know the pieces the shape of a circle
Round and round you go
Biting your tail

We're the journey and the wind is whipping
Short hands on the clock still ticking
Both the egg and the red fox grinning
His belly full for the day
Someday we may all want nothing
And all together we'll get what's coming
Someday all say the world was something
That we just couldnt change

May your tongue be soft and wicked
Know your part in the calf and the killing
See straight through the captain you're kissing
Helm loose in his hand
May your words be well worth stealing
Put your hand on your heart when your singing
Choirs sick of the song
But they still gotta stand

-Iron and Wine

truck stuck in ditch. rabbit died.

Got the Ranger stuck in a ditch today, driving down a slushy hill leaving the office. Kind coworkers pulled it out with chains. Benjamin didn't make it. He died yesterday. The pipes are un-froze but the drainage is still blocked and the septic guy who came by the farm yesterday said the proper fix would cost hundreds of dollars, so I'm waiting out the thaw and showering at the office before work.

I appreciate all the kind comments and encouragment. I'll make a proper update soon and snap out of this funk. To be perfectly honest though, all I want to do tonight is go home, make tea, and go to bed.

Jenna - 0
Winter - 147,985

Monday, January 24, 2011

small number of animals dead

Some dead chickens outside barn, for some reason did not go into coop at night. Froze outside. Benjamin the angora buck is barely breathing or moving, limp to the touch, still warm. Sheep, geese, and Pig seem fine, but thirsty. Called into work, said I would be late. Going to try to start truck again. Plumbers on-call.

truck won't start

Just when you thought it couldn't get any better...

pipes froze

Don't know what to do. Don't know where they froze.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

three dog night

Something different happened today, and it made me a little uncomfortable. I was out raking snow off the outbuildings, checking on the animals, and doing usual winter chores when I got incredibly tired. I mean, buckling tired. It was how I felt when I was recovering from the campylobacter, and it scared me. I wasn't cold (I was really bundled up). I wasn't feeling sick. And I wasn't dehydrated or doing too much. I made sure to stagger chores to make sure the work was in smaller chunks, but damn, I was just done and it was only 2:30. I came inside, threw some logs in the stove, and made myself get under the heated blanket on the daybed with a book and sleep for an hourw with Annie. The alarm went off at 4PM and everything hurt. My arms sore from raking, my head swirling. I had a cold glass of water and felt better and went outside to use the rest of the daylight to line the sheep shed with clean bedding for the big freeze tonight.

I never nap. I just don't. It is really unusual for me to have to shut down like that. I just feel weak today, and have since Friday. I'm not coughing. I have no fever. My appetite is the same monstrous appetite I always have....I just feel thinner, like stretched out linen. I'm either getting sick, or getting some sort of winter fatigue.

Well, at least the farm is in good shape. I have a pile of dry wood inside for the night and tomorrow. Snow raked off the barn, sheds, and coop. The sheep have clean water in their defrosted tank and fresh bedding (plus all the hay they can eat). The chickens, rabbits, and geese got extra bedding and corn too, and so did Pig. The trucks is gassed up. The driveway is plowed. I did my level best. Now the only thing left to do is sip tea, rest, and curl up for the three-dog night. (For me, this is a literal as well as figurative statement.) Oh well, the only way out, is through.

Thank you for all your tips. I used many today.
I hear there might be another big storm this week?



The National Weather Service has announced -23 lows tonight, and more snow next week. This is a cold I have never experienced before. I don't know what it will do to the house, the truck, the animals, or the little details that keep things running like electric water-tank defrosters on the farm. I do know that I'm staying home today to look after things and keep the stove burning all day and night. Does anyone have any cold-weather tips that could help around here? Should I run the truck engine for twenty minutes tonight to keep the battery alive? Should the sheep get bag balm on their noses? Do your dogs need more water to keep from a cold dehydration? And is it better to keep the wood stove roaring or down to hot coals all night, which has more of a heat output? I'll take on this cold and snow regardless, but advice that could keep my vehicle safe or animals more comfortable would be a gift.