Thursday, January 31, 2013

Strange Times

The last two days have been so incredibly strange. The weirdness is the weather. It went from a week so cold that the trap below my shower froze solid, to the last two days of wind and rain and temperatures near sixty degrees. When I woke up this morning there was a literal howling through the downpour. Gibson was at the window, watching the world swirl around his little haven. He looked concerned.

I wasn't worried as much as I was unsettled. It felt like April, not January. April is a creepy month to me, my least favorite month of the year. I have no idea how beautiful October got all the cultural associations with death and fear. October is the opposite. It's teeming with the harvest, with glowing firestorms of colored leaves and ornaments of apples and pears in the trees. No month makes me feel more alive, more grateful, more content. October to me is exactly like the feeling of finally coming home to your lover, leaning back in his seat, and how it feels to find that place curled up against him, your head on his chest. It is bliss and safety, what we all pray to feel. That's October.

But April? April to me is rotting and rumbling earth going through the worst of ugly puberty. It's a necessary ugly period for future blessings. I understand it's role but I can't stand the entire feel of the month. Trees are usually barren and those horrible Easter flowers like lilies come out in people's living rooms; things that smell so putrid only their vulgarity can hide the wafts of embalming fluid and pancake makeup in funeral homes. I hate April. It's too dark for me. A season of zombie-like resurrection, and now my backyard feels like it when it should feel like something out of a Courier and Ives winter scene over a mantle. Take a fistful of wet mud, spit on it, pour some cheap perfume and a rotting egg on top and then set it in a warm place to fester where cat hair and dust give it a smoldering crust…. and you have April.


So, as you can imagine, this feels wrong. But there is some good news, most importantly, that this horror is over soon. Temperatures should drop back into the teens and snow is in the forecast for the next few days. And with the blessings of winter, comes a healthier flock. My sheep are looking wonderful! Even little Grace, the Cotswold with the poor constitution, has made a full recovery and is getting harder and harder to trap and give injections of ProPen to. The goats are fat, and kids are just 5-6 weeks away. And that means fresh goats milk is only 5-6 weeks away! The fiddle weekend in early Feb is packed and I am working on getting last minute preparations in order. The wool weekend is also jammed with folks and I am thrilled to spend two days with fiber, wheels, carders, and my knitting needles here at the farmhouse. Merlin is soaking wet. But he looks like something out of the LOTR set with his locks whipping in the wind and his dark eyes scanning the ground for hay flakes. He had grown so chubby this winter I can't help but giggle at his belly, but it's mostly water weight. After a good ride or cart trip he slims down and the cart shafts don't touch his sides and his girth is too loose for comfort. So it goes!

So, in summary: The weather is gross but the farm is thriving! And I can not thank those of you who contributed enough. It looks like I will be able to purchase a new camera shortly, but I am very interested in your suggestions. Some people mentioned the Rebel, correct? Any others you like that non-professionals like myself can get better-than-average results with? I can't wait to snap more photos and take more videos!


Blogger Kate said...


TO what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

January 31, 2013 at 10:21 AM  
Blogger barbsbirds13 said...

You've got it right about lilies - they belong in the field, not indoors. I try bringing them in now and again. Then they punish me again.

Cheers for the sheep, and the goats, and for Merlin, and for you - and all the rest.

January 31, 2013 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger Trish said...

April in our part of the world does suck. My mom tells me when I was born on April 1st in France that it is beautiful and the flowers have bloomed and that "La journee de Poisson" in France is an honor to be born on but she insisted on moving to Canada when I was a baby. So I "celebrate" my birthday as an April fools in very crappy weather.

Btw, we have a rebel camera too. Great camera, good price and worth purchasing additional lenses for :)

January 31, 2013 at 10:49 AM  
Blogger The Mom said...

Excellent post. Hubby and I run a wedding photography business and always recommend the rebel. We shoot canon as well and love the quality. The rebel has a great body and you can add lenses to make it do whatever you need. Just be aware that good lenses are where you will end up spending money.

January 31, 2013 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger Jamie said...

The Canon Rebel is the camera I plan on buying myself. My father just got the T3 and two friends of mine have the T2i (which is the one I lean towards). My cousin who has a minor in photography is also planning on getting one and said it's a good camera for someone like me who takes tons of photos and wants to produce better shots without being too crazy complicated.

January 31, 2013 at 11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would start with the Rebel series, but I'm a fan. It's a great starter DSLR. I have a T1i and love it . I've had it a while and I'm hoping to eventually upgrade/marry to a full-frame at some point. You can get an early series Rebel for a good price. It's such an easy-to-learn camera that takes awesome stills and video.

And I agree with you about April. It's ugly down here, too. Usually it begins in late February for us, though.

January 31, 2013 at 11:16 AM  
Blogger Goat Song said...

The canon Rebel T2I is what I use and I LOVE it. The picture quality is amazing (my dad and sister are professional photographers, and they use the Rebel for weddings, senior portraits, and other such things), the videos are great, and it's a nice, light camera. Worth the price. :)

January 31, 2013 at 11:27 AM  
Blogger Janine said...

I just bought a Rebel EOS T3i about a month ago and I absolutely love it. It may not be the newest model, but it really isn't that old. The price kind of disturbed me at first. Realistically though, I like it so much that I can't help but feel it was worth it!

January 31, 2013 at 12:04 PM  
Blogger Paulette said...

As T.S. Eliot wrote....

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

January 31, 2013 at 12:18 PM  
Blogger Yarrow said...

you're in good company.

"April is the cruelest month
breeding lilacs out of the dead land
mixing memory and desire."

--TS Eliot

January 31, 2013 at 12:29 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

You might want to take a look at the Fujifilm X10. Excellent picture quality and easier to carry around than an SLR.

January 31, 2013 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger Divine Rites Ministry said...

In some parts of the country April sets the stage for 'spring', not the one printed on the free bank calendar hanging on the kitchen wall, but the one that actually begins the birth of the season itself.

The underground mysteries of timing, pausing, holding and pushing. April is 'Lamaze Month', and like the ninth month of pregnancy, April can feel awkward, tired, grumpy, pulled out of shape, and restless.

Nature's knows the value of April, it's us who are too caught up in our own needs to take a moment and experience it's quiet purpose and beauty.

For me, as a gardener, April is the month of patience and preparation.

January 31, 2013 at 12:45 PM  
Blogger Holly said...

If your new camera is almost "in the bag" per se...what other financial needs can your readership assist with? Love the idea one reader posted about you identifying a goal you need help with.

January 31, 2013 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger Stephen Andrew said...

Personally I love April, but I understand what you mean. I know this weather is scary. 65F yesterday and 10F tomorrow. Plus I'm trying to potty train my new Border Collie/Lab mix...suffice to say conditions are not ideal.

January 31, 2013 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger Shannon said...

Take a fistful of wet mud, spit on it, pour some cheap perfume and a rotting egg on top and then set it in a warm place to fester where cat hair and dust give it a smoldering crust…. and you have April.

That right there is worthy of a donation!!

January 31, 2013 at 1:06 PM  
Blogger Brenda said...

my dtr likes the Rebel. I got it for her from another farmwife who got it from a used camera site, brought the price way down. So I gather you don't like Mud Season? lol. hard to like boot sucking mud in April and May but my hundreds of daffies outside sure do look pretty, a gift left to us from my husband's dear departed Debbie. The Jan thaw this year has been particularly nice. My pond walkers are currently spending time in the goat pen where they will stay until I am good and ready to set up electric around the pond. (means they will probably be there until mud season.) Enjoy the weather, looks like snow, or maybe rain, or just lots of wind, or all of the above.

January 31, 2013 at 1:08 PM  
Blogger rabbit said...

So many canon fans! My family has always shot Nikon-I remember my Papa shooting with a big ole film Nikon camera, one I still currently own. :)

January 31, 2013 at 3:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lost track of this blog with our move, happy to try and catch up again though!

I hate April. Well, hate is probably too strong. Dislike. I dislike April, and Spring in general. Late Summer, Fall, and Winter are my months.

Anyway, just checking in, I'll try to keep up to date if I can.

January 31, 2013 at 4:23 PM  
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January 31, 2013 at 4:46 PM  
Blogger Cassandra said...

I was looking at Canon and Nikon for a while, then ran into Olympus cameras. I read through review after review and finally settled on an Olympus SP-565-UZ. If memory serves, it does just about everything a Canon or Nikon can do but for a lot less. I've had it for about 2 years now and I've been very happy with it.

January 31, 2013 at 5:11 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

Hi, Love your blog that I found today in the From Scratch emag. I would like to subscribe to your blog so I can get emails when you post, but can't find where to sign up. Could you please direct me to feedburner or whatever you use for subscribing, please?



January 31, 2013 at 5:36 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Since April is full spring and bursting with life in my corner of the south, I can't share your sentiments. Our bare and muddy season is Jan/Feb. and even when there's the rare snow on the ground there's always the bud of a camellia blossom or the promise of a lenten rose bloom, so perhaps I can't fully sympathize. But spring holds the promise of life and fall the fullness - each with enough glory of their own that I can't think of a reason not to embrace them as they are.

January 31, 2013 at 5:56 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Black said...

I was just wondering, how do you really feel about April?

January 31, 2013 at 6:53 PM  
Blogger seagrrlz said...

I'm so happy for the weather break. It's been soooo cold here. I'll take the mud and the muck. We're gaving 25 cm of snow this weekend so winter will be back soon.

January 31, 2013 at 10:36 PM  
Blogger Sandy said...

So...tell us what you really think about April. =o)

January 31, 2013 at 11:12 PM  
Blogger Sandy said...

So...tell us what you really think about April. =o)

January 31, 2013 at 11:12 PM  
Blogger Sandy said...

So...tell us what you really think about April. =o)

January 31, 2013 at 11:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must agree about April - especially here in the Rocky Mountains where it is otherwise known as 'mud season'. Alternating between soggy late-season snows and wood floor scouring, granite mud with not a green plant in sight, it is our most mentally-trying season. Hope things stabilize for you there!

January 31, 2013 at 11:35 PM  
Blogger Fernleaf said...

Jenna, this is a little off topic, and maybe I'm just missing a post where you mentioned it before, but I had a question for you/future post topic.

Where I live in W. Washington we have a large population of small predators that cause us no end of trials, we deal with frequent visits from coyotes and raccoons, coexist with the many owls in our woods, and once I even thought I saw a fox. We are lucky enough to not have to deal with some of the larger predators like bears and cougers (or the returning wolves) at this time.

I was wondering what kind of predators you have most frequently on your mountain and what kinds of ways you've found to coexist (or not) with them?

February 1, 2013 at 2:21 AM  
Blogger Cathy said...

awww, I LOVE April. Gives a little tease of what's to come in May and then WHAM-O! A snowstorm hits to dash those dreams. lol

Glad you asked about a camera - looks like the Cannon Rebel is one to check out. I'll be doing just that.

February 1, 2013 at 6:09 AM  
Blogger Tiffany said...

Jenna, don't hold back. Tell us how you really feel about April! :-) I laughed so hard over your description - very vivid!

I bought a Rebel last year and I do love it. It takes fab photos and great video! You just have to play with the settings to really get the photos you want.

February 1, 2013 at 6:36 AM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

I LOVE April! April means the coming of living things, green grass sprouting up through dead brown, new chicks hatching and lambs being born. The weather warms up, the trees bud, the garden gets tilled and ready for planting. Love everything about it! Well, maybe not the mud, which sometimes happens, but I love, love, love April! :-)

February 1, 2013 at 7:48 AM  
Blogger Momma Storer said...

April is the true birth of a new year.
No birth is pretty.
But the beginning of any new life is beautiful and a miracle.

February 1, 2013 at 12:12 PM  
Blogger Cindy said...

I think you will learn to appreciate, if not like, April once you really get into gardening. I've always hated summer, but the more I garden the more I can at least appreciate it.

February 1, 2013 at 8:57 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

Wow! I have never heard (or read) such a spot on description of the ugliness of April. The only month i dislike more, myself, is March. Gack! Mud and stink. I'll think of you when April comes around this year, and hope that you get through it okay.. or better than okay. But it's wonderful news that your farm is doing so beautifully and your animals are so strong and healthy. I'll hope for snow for you and temps in the single digits! :) My fingers are crossed!

February 1, 2013 at 9:52 PM  
Blogger Alix said...

I have such happy memories of spring that I can't fathom not loving it. Spring was a time of exploration like no other...
-Following the melt 'rivers' down to where they pooled, damming them up, and watching them find away around the dam
-Wading through meltwater, exploring all the new life surfacing
-Climbing trees to see the status of the buds
-Gauging how far into the season we were by the different birds you heard and saw

I remember one year we had a substantial thaw, followed by a sudden hard freeze. When I went to one of my 'regular' wading spots I found all these dead frogs floating in the water - they'd come out of hibernation only to be caught by the frost. Sad, but incredibly interesting!

I love all the seasons for different reasons, but nothing sparked my curiousity as a kid like springtime!

February 2, 2013 at 2:25 AM  
Blogger Jamie said...

while its nothing super fancy i have had a nikon coolpix for almost 3 years now. its survived my clumsyness,my dogs and my purse (eater of cameras). the macro is amazing, the wideshots are great, it has several really good settings i like to play with and its small enough that even in its case i can slide it into a hoody pocket and take it almost anywhere.

February 2, 2013 at 12:22 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

Not that you asked, but my very handy partner says 1/4 cup of plain old rubbing alcohol down your shower drain at night should keep it from freezing on those frigid nights.

February 2, 2013 at 7:23 PM  
Blogger Willow said...

Loved your post. We just got hit by a blizzard few days back, but they are forcasting rain today ... that should turn into a real mess. But before the snow got ugly (fresh snow is pretty no denying that) I took some fun pics and posted them of our ponies in the snow ...the ponies ar enjoying it!

February 11, 2013 at 8:19 AM  

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