Before dogs are leashed and walked, farm chores seen too, or even a trip to the WC to pee: three things are done first. A fire is lit in the stove from last night's effort of kindling and firewood. The tea kettle is set on the stove to heat up for hot cocoa, steam, and oatmeal. And I get dressed in very, very warm clothes.
With these things done I am ready to face the outside. The lows weren't as bad as predicted, low twenties instead of the teens. I still appreciate my riding gloves and their leather grip, a wool scarf, wool knit cap, a polar fleece jacket and tall rubber boots. I'm still in my house pants—a loose-fitting, green, and comfortable—handmade by my friend Yesheva. Without meaning too I am wearing three items of clothing made by people I knew. Up until a few years ago, this would be horrific. I haven't bought a new item of clothing since last year. Everything I wear now is used, goodwill, or made by friends. A concession I am happy to make to live the way I do.
Jazz and Annie are on leads. Gibson is loose, running around trying to take in where every animal is he hasn't seen since last night. The sheep are silent, still resting on the hill. Merlin isn't. He hollers to me for hay, and expecting this, I have a few flakes waiting by the woodpile. I let the (now empty) elderly dogs back in the house to return to their naps. Gibson and I stay outside to feed the horses. I can't see Merlin charging towards me in the dark until he is practically on top of the gate. He dives into his breakfast and I head down to where I left the battery-lantern last night to chop new wood for the morning's fire. Gibson, who hates waiting for me to pile wood, slinks away to terrorize Defiance the turkey, asleep on Merlin's pony cart. I start chopping, smiling when I hear the explosion of gobbles and flapping wings. I can hear the kettle start to scoff gasping whistles indoors. I call my dog and head inside with arms loaded with more wood than any reasonable woman would carry.
Inside the first bit of morning light lifts the mood of the room. Boghadair is asleep in front of the stove fire on his red, wool, blanket. Jazz and Annie are on the daybed, already crashed. I have big plans of stalking deer, feeding a farm full of animals, carrying buckets of water and de-icing troughs...but before that, before ANY of that, there will be oatmeal and hot chocolate. Because, my dear friends, today is supposed to give us the gift of the farm's first snowfall. A big deal to me this year, and I'll explain why later. I check the weather on my phone, before I even see who is president, and tuck into my apple/cinnamon porridge. I sit on the bench by the stove and watch the sun rise. The sky is gray, wonting. I wont, too.