Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Before Dawn

The morning started early, around 4AM. I was having a rough time sleeping so I decided to give in to my 45 remaining minutes before the alarm chirped and start the day. It was dark as a yard up a hog's bum, and cold. The temperature indoors was in the low fifties upstairs and mid-fifties downstairs. Walking barefoot downstairs I pranced a bit, trying to avoid too much skin-to-cold-floor contact. The base of my wood stove is soapstone and there I rest heavy hand-knit wool socks to absorb the heat of the stone through the night. Even if the fire dies around 3AM I still get toasty feet. I slip them on and let out a happy sigh. Tiny luxuries skimmed off the surface of voluntary deprivation.

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.


Blogger Christine said...

Thanks for sharing your day with us! Sounds wonderful so far. Although I must say I HATE cold feet in the morning. ugh. You should sleep with your socks under the covers with you. I bet they'd be just as warm and you wouldn't have to go anywhere to get them :).

My day started with a baby waking up waaay before I was ready for him to, homemade bread and apple sauce, and reading about you, of course!

November 7, 2012 at 8:49 AM  
Blogger Ashling said...

What a delicious, cozy, satisfying morning....if waaaayyy too early!

November 7, 2012 at 8:53 AM  
Blogger kimberlesk said...

Loved reading about your morning! Thanks for sharing! Enjoy!

November 7, 2012 at 9:37 AM  
Blogger celticali said...

Morning Jenna,
Sipping my coffee,reading you're blog,before I begin looking after my disabled husband.
Sometimes I wake up with dread,then I read you're blog and remember to appreciate the little things and am reminded that a wee bit bit of hard work never killed anyone eh? Ha.
Hope you stay warm and have a happy day!

November 7, 2012 at 9:38 AM  
Blogger Eileen Hileman said...

There is something special about the hour (or two) just before dawn. I love watching the sun make its way over the horizon and the beautiful colors of sunrise. The quiet time - sipping coffe and reading your blog before the day begins.

November 7, 2012 at 10:17 AM  
Blogger Kellee said...

I read this while eating my own oatmeal. You are an word artist. I felt like I just helped you with chores. Good luck with the deer!

November 7, 2012 at 10:18 AM  
Blogger Dave Belson said...

Man, you write well. Thanks for sharing your morning priorities and sensibilities. May the day be good to you.

November 7, 2012 at 10:20 AM  
Blogger English sheep gal said...

Great idea to keep us updated throughout the day, looking forward to the lunchtime installment! Wednesdays are my day off from the Cat Clinic, so my day will consist of normal catch up at home, laundy, cleaning, empty ashes from woodstove, put something in the slow cooker for dinner, bring in more wood, food shopping, picking the last beets and leeks from the frozen ground..... something new and exciting this afternoon though - a knitting class lead by a friend where, over a series of 4 classes a group of us will learn to knit our first hat! No snow yet here nr Buffalo, NY but a hard frost last night.

November 7, 2012 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger jules said...

OMGosh Jenna! Your writing carries me right to your farm. You are so talented. I am glad to make your acquaintance.

November 7, 2012 at 10:54 AM  
Blogger Trish said...

Your post carried me away to my dream that I have had for most of my life but never achieved. It is bitter-sweet reading your blog. It makes me sad that I'm not in a similar place but it also soothes me and maybe even gives me hope that, despite being 46, maybe someday I too will have a farm.

November 7, 2012 at 11:15 AM  
Blogger J.D. Collins said...

I've decided to get as much done today as I can. The call to knit tonight whilst my puppy sleeps beside me and a hot tea next to me makes the world right despite the howling winds and rain promised.

Your morning sounds wonderful. Share more of your day with us, please.

November 7, 2012 at 11:17 AM  
Blogger Justine said...

Reading these kinds of posts really gets me daydreaming! Usually while at work, but I`ll take that as a way to escape for a few minutes!

November 7, 2012 at 3:16 PM  
Blogger bree said...

I enjoyed your morning with you . Thanks! Hope you were as pleased as I was with the election outcome :)

November 8, 2012 at 9:19 AM  

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