Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sleighs and Two Degrees

It'll be a cold one. The temperature will drop near zero, tonight. That's cold, friends. The kind of cold that stops you from feeling your toes in rubber boots, hardens fluffy snow drifts into ice caps, and makes people like me turn into full-out Hobbits for a few days. The farmhouse is in full defensive mode, too. There are two wood stoves stoked and roaring, all the electric heaters are chugging, and I have already set out my insulated Carhartt pants and heaviest wool sweater by my bedside for the morning. The animals are ready, too. I just came inside from Night Rounds. I worry most about the pigs, who thrive and need comfort more than any other critter out there. I gave them a half bale of straw to nest. They'll tuck in and fall asleep in their corner of the barn, out of the wind and close to each other. The horses have a windproof shelter now (thanks to Brett and Elizabeth) so they're golden. All the chickens are out of the wind and well fed. The sheep have coats that let them scoff at anything above -40. And Annie is finally getting comfortable around here. So we are as prepared as we can be on this mountain.

I had a good day, spent mostly outdoors. It was a slow morning of chores and wood splitting, but the the afternoon was spent with friends trying out Patty's new 4-person sleigh. (New to her. It belonged to a dairy farmer's grandfather, she bought it at auction.) We hitched up Steele and he did wonderfully. We flew across the foot of powder and how grand that grey Percheron looked! Sometimes I need to stop and realize that here in Washington County we do things on our weekends people usually have to pay for at designated recreation areas. We hitch up, bundle up, and go.

The sleigh is so different than the carts. All the speed without the maneuverability (also a lot easier to tip)—and yet Steele trotted along like he was born in front of that hundred-year-old cutter. I sat in the back right-hand seat. I was covered up from head to toe in wool and my trusty rabbit fur musher's hat—comfortable as possible in the wind and sun of a twenty-degree day. I held the long, black, whip and felt my cheeks turn red. Mark was next to me, just back from a morning of duck hunting. He got some drakes and was on cloud nine. Joanna (our friend and Patty's newest driving student) sat up front and watched hands and lines. I'm so excited to add another gal to our riding club. The more the merrier.

It was wonderful spending the daylight with friends, but it was also so satisfying to get home. I made a quick dinner of scrambled eggs with cheese and veggies and drank enough water to drown a woodchuck in. I think most of the next week will be spent close to home. Here in the North Country we are in for many nights around zero, and when you heat with wood that requires a diligence that doesn't allow for long trips from home to cut though snowdrifts. I'm ready for it. I have my Ax inside by the front door so my hands don't freeze to it in the morning and a stack of kindling ready to go at the first embers of waning heat. I got a box of Long Trail's Hibernator ale, and a stocked pantry. Heat and food will be plenty.

I'm on a tight budget so it'll be up to me to keep my mind and body busy this week without swiping my debit card. Running to bookstores or ordering movies on the internet is out, a luxury for richer times. Instead I'll be reading, visiting local friends, walking Annie, riding Merlin, and taking care of the animals that are my world. You don't need to spend any money to have fun, you all know that. Fun is the feral version of that long-domesticated notion we call "entertainment". Entertainment always costs you, but fun is free. You make it yourself.

25 Comments:

Blogger daisy said...

Wow! What an amazing way to spend the day! Hoping the sun is shining brightly on your this week to keep you just this side of toasty.
Enjoy the season, farmer.

December 30, 2012 at 6:51 PM  
Blogger Framing Fowl said...

Amen to free fun outdoors! One of my favorite parts of Christmas this year was going outside at 10 pm in 10* weather for moonlight sledding with friends and family.

December 30, 2012 at 6:59 PM  
Blogger kathie said...

Have fun!!!! :)

December 30, 2012 at 7:14 PM  
Blogger Karen Talamantez said...

My library has downloadable books, music and audiobooks. I can access it through the web. All free, of course. Maybe yours has similar options?

December 30, 2012 at 7:31 PM  
OpenID dagnygromer said...

What fun! Enjoy.

December 30, 2012 at 7:38 PM  
Blogger An-jay said...

Hi Jenna,
My free, fun wintery activity is cozying up on the couch with Barnheart (a Christmas gift) and feeling inspired to hold tight to my own dreams of moving beyond my comfort zone and listening to my heart's desire to have a little homestead to call my own also. Stay warm & content in NY- about 12 degrees right now here in Colchester, VT. Peace and cheers to a new year filled with many memorable moments! -Angie

December 30, 2012 at 7:47 PM  
Blogger An-jay said...

The free, wintery way I am spending my time today is snuggled up on the couch w/my 2 dogs, reading Barnheart, a holiday gift from my mother in law. Feeling inspired and reminding myself to hold strong to my heart's desire to somehow figure out a way to have my own little homestead also. Stay warm in NY- 12 degrees here in Colchester, VT right about now. Cheers to a new year filled w/many memorable moments!

December 30, 2012 at 7:50 PM  
Blogger An-jay said...

Hi Jenna,
My free, fun wintery activity is cozying up on the couch with Barnheart (a Christmas gift) and feeling inspired to hold tight to my own dreams of moving beyond my comfort zone and listening to my heart's desire to have a little homestead to call my own also. Stay warm & content in NY- about 12 degrees right now here in Colchester, VT. Peace and cheers to a new year filled with many memorable moments! -Angie

December 30, 2012 at 7:50 PM  
Blogger Morning Glory said...

Jenna, enjoyed the sleight ride!

December 30, 2012 at 7:57 PM  
Blogger bookkm said...

If you have an e reader, you should check out NetGalley for free books of interest to you. They are mostly ARCs and the publishers appreciate comments but for someone who wants to stay close to home and save money downloading a book - for free - is awesome.

Also check out the Library of Congress for copyright free classics. Gothic novels, anyone?

December 30, 2012 at 8:03 PM  
Blogger jim said...

notice you don't mention Gibson much lately--is he okay?

December 30, 2012 at 8:09 PM  
Blogger kandy Gray said...

that horse sounded amazing!
by the way, WE TAKE POSSESSION OF A HOBBY FARM (5.62 acres) ON FEB 26!!!!!! and it all started through finding your first book, then your blog and badgering my husband till the PQ got into political power here in Quebec and pushed my husband into liking the idea of moving to Ontario and buying land!!!

December 30, 2012 at 9:15 PM  
Blogger kandy Gray said...

oh, and check to see if your library has e book sharing. mine does and it is wonderful!

December 30, 2012 at 9:16 PM  
Blogger Back Achres said...

And we see some real truth to the old adage " Keeping the home fires burning"....stay warm. We are hunkering down too.

December 30, 2012 at 9:24 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh! Thanks for sharing - stay warm.

December 30, 2012 at 9:31 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

That looks like so much fun, riding in a one horse sleigh! And all that snow. How beautiful. But you may have all the cold up there. I am ready for summer!

December 30, 2012 at 9:41 PM  
Blogger Glyndalyn said...

How beautiful and wonderful to be behind a horse pulling a sleigh. Yes, a one horse open sleigh.

December 30, 2012 at 10:18 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

What a lovely day for you!
My husband and I took two friends to a neighboring ranch, where every Sunday between 8-9am (only) you can drop in, leave a $10 bill in the mason jar on the kitchen counter, and help yourself to a home-prepared ranch breakfast any Oregon girl would swoon for--same hearty fare the ranch hands enjoy each morning.
Then we took our two dogs for a nice long walk in the cold sunshine. Great Day!

December 30, 2012 at 11:17 PM  
Blogger kwdiving said...

Sounds like a good day for a hearty stew and homemade bread. Haven't heard anything about the other mainecoon lately, is she still around? Lilly?

December 31, 2012 at 6:58 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Wow! It's a one-horse open sleigh, and I heard bells! Happy Happy New Year, Jenna. I hope I make it back up to Cold Antler for another fabulous workshop.

December 31, 2012 at 8:09 PM  
Blogger blind irish pirate said...

Are there libraries near you?

January 1, 2013 at 9:50 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you!! Watching that video clip made me smile and think of the Old Laura Ingalls books of hearing the sleigh bells on Christmas when the cousins were arriving. Blessings to you in the New Year!!

January 1, 2013 at 4:29 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you!! Watching that video clip made me smile and think of the Old Laura Ingalls books of hearing the sleigh bells on Christmas when the cousins were arriving. Blessings to you in the New Year!!

January 1, 2013 at 4:30 PM  
Blogger T. Crockett said...

If your local library caries it, I recommend the book Hundred Dollar Christmas by McKibben. It's officially about making choices in how we celebrate Christmas that match our lifestyles, but a lot of what he has to say is really mindfulness under a different name.

January 1, 2013 at 7:53 PM  
Blogger T. Crockett said...

If your local library caries it, I recommend the book Hundred Dollar Christmas by McKibben. It's officially about making choices in how we celebrate Christmas that match our lifestyles, but a lot of what he has to say is really mindfulness under a different name.

January 1, 2013 at 7:53 PM  

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