Sunday, December 15, 2013

Getting Easier!

I remember the first time I was shown this house by the realtor and how he was trying to remain calm and positive about the interior. I had a feeling he had shown this place a couple dozen times and it was the trifecta of flooring situations that ruined any possible sales. See, the floor looked like hardwood but it wasn't. There was wood below, which was unmistakable by a couple hundred years of warping and rolling, making a walk from the living room to the kitchen a subtle change in altitude. But the warped floor was masked as well as possible by the linoleum over it. It was made to look like hardwood, but certainly it was just the same stuff inexpensively flooring kitchens around America. The ceilings were only 7 or eight feet high in places, too. It was an old house, carefully restored and loved by the people who were currently selling it. But it wasn't an easy sell. People do not want linoleum in the living room and wonky floors. They don't want just one small bathroom on the base floor when the bathrooms are upstairs and without any plumbing…

But for me, it was perfect. So perfect it just reinforces my belief that everything happens for a purpose. This old house, complete with its fake floors and tiny area of plumbing is perfect for a homesteader heating with firewood. And you know what else is perfect? Linoleum floors. Because last night we got hit with a foot of snow and this girl spend the entire morning in a full set of coveralls and heavy boots raking roofs, feeding, watering, and seeing to critters and came inside an hour later dripping and shaking snow in every direction on the floor. I had to clean the ash out of the wood stove and I had a metal pail and garden spade and I stood there, dripping hay and water, ash and mud, as I shoveled out 5 loads of coals and ash out of the Bun Baker and into a watered-down bucket to set outside. It looked like one of those old-timey movies of people shoveling coals into steam engines. And when I was done there there were pools of muck at my feet, globs of wet ash and coal, mud, hay, and other detritus at my feet. It took one broom, dustpan, and a mop to make it look like new in about two minutes. Bless Linoleum.

So right now the house is clean and the fire is lit. The animals outside are fed and in good spirits. Everyone has water, food, shelter and all the comforts I can offer. As a farmer, especially a farmer on her own in the North Country, I feel like a lottery winner!

My preparations yesterday really paid off. I moved the electric line a foot higher in the pig pen so it wasn't buried in the onslaught. This means the pigs are still confined and the two bales of hay I gave them were turned into a little fort under their little shed. Last night after the first of two roof raking trips - I went outside with a lantern to make sure they were okay and was warmed at the sight of a pile of four 200-pound animals slowly breathing under a dry pile of hay while the wind blew.

It took a few years of winters but I am getting it. There wasn't any panic this morning or last night. Even when the pipes started to stop flowing I knew what to do and moved heaters around, got things dripping, and actually pulled some ice out of the toilet's drainage with some serious plungering… I repaired the roof rake that needed new screws and tightening and I can proudly say my barn, kitchen, and the mews are all still standing and cleared of snow. I brought inside plenty of firewood. I set out several bales of hay under tarps by both the sheep and horse paddocks to save on trips to and from the barn. I made sure I had coffee and hot cocoa stocked along with creamer and marshmallows. I cleared my schedule for the day and the house is warm. I may watch a movie here with the dogs, head over to Livingston Brook Farm for a sleigh ride with Steele and Patty, or just enjoy a clean warm house, a mystery novel, a walk with my hawk, and a crockpot of chicken stew. Not a bad storm day compared to previous years of bursting pipes, broken-down cars, or $350 a month oil heating bills. Today should be turned into a personal holiday, for Brigit's sake. Let us all remember December, in the year 2013, when Jenna finally got her shit together. And it was good.

Guys, it's all good! I have the same food, shelter, and comfort as the animals outside do. I'm rested and ready as a just-mended roof rake. I'm an expert in nesting, like those pigs outside in a perfect ball of hay. I feel good this morning. Really good. And now I'm off to enjoy this snow day.

22 Comments:

Blogger Lisa said...

"Everyone has water, food, shelter and all the comforts I can offer. "
Hi Jenna! I feel exactly the same way about this. It is very satisfying to know that all of one's creatures have just what they need and are easily able to deal with winter.

It also means chores are over and it's time to back inside and warm up!!

Lisa in Maine

December 15, 2013 at 9:51 AM  
Blogger kandy Gray said...

this is our first winter on our new 160 year old farmstead. we are starting to figure out the old cast iron stove and have learned alot about weather stripping doors and calking windows, thats for shore. also starting to seriously turning old bedsheets into crochet floor rugs.......

fun!

keep worm, there is more on the way!

December 15, 2013 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger barbsbirds13 said...

This storm you are taking on sounds like an ingredient for your next book. Love reading about it from your experiences and view. Most of all if indeed 2013 has seen you rise above earlier angst (essential income, foreclosure threats, and such) with your stalwart strengths, endurance, creativeness and expertise - there is a treasured victory many of us can learn from and be inspired by.

December 15, 2013 at 10:40 AM  
Blogger Cat H said...

lol! Glad you got your shit together. You crack me up. Have a wonderful day.

Cath

December 15, 2013 at 10:43 AM  
Blogger gothicmuse said...

It's good to hear the confidence and pride in your words, Jenna.

It is hard-won and all the more special for that.

December 15, 2013 at 11:27 AM  
Blogger gothicmuse said...

It's good to hear the confidence and pride in your words, Jenna.

It is hard-won and all the more special for that.

December 15, 2013 at 11:27 AM  
Blogger English sheep gal said...

Glad to read a happy post - genius idea to move the hay into place before the snow came and cover with tarps.

Easy clean floors are great aren't they - we have tile in our laundry and mud room, which is where we come in from outside with firewood etc. Got some old towels lined up along the edge for snow covered boots to defrost on, then can dry the towels in front of the fireplace, the fire tool rack is where we dry our gloves and hats after being outside in the snow.

We have had lots of snow here in Wales, NY too, about 20+ inches on Weds, now we have a lake effect snow warning for another big storm coming in later today. No livestock to take care of, but heading outdoors to refill the bird feeders now. Thinking of getting a nice stew started in the slow cooker for dinner,then an afternoon by the fire with some knitting. Hope you have a restful day, in preparation for working through the snow and digging out tomorrow.

December 15, 2013 at 11:46 AM  
Blogger Kyler and Sylvia said...

It took me a couple of minutes to peice together that the house in the photo was not the house which you spoke of.
Glad to hear you're getting things together. My boss would call that "experience".

December 15, 2013 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger Stacey said...

This made me smile. Cheers to a warm, cozy homestead for all! Enjoy your day.

December 15, 2013 at 1:33 PM  
Blogger Fresh Eggs Farm said...

Yay for getting your shit together! We are better this year too, hoping next year is even better. ..

December 15, 2013 at 3:02 PM  
Blogger E said...

"So perfect it just reinforces my belief that everything happens for a purpose."

Please tell us how your belief that everything happens for a purpose could be used to explain to the parents of children gunned down in Newtown last year that it was a purposeful event and that the coming month is a perfect holiday season.

December 15, 2013 at 3:11 PM  
Blogger Holly said...

Great going:)

December 15, 2013 at 5:11 PM  
Blogger Maggie's Farm said...

Good for you. I found the best barn I could find in the two crazy weekends I had to look up here in NY State, but the farmer kept the little house to go with it. Soooooo...I live in the barn with the sheep! We do what we have to do!

December 15, 2013 at 7:16 PM  
Blogger Joleen said...

So glad everyone there is warm, well fed and happy. You've worked hard for this day.

December 15, 2013 at 7:31 PM  
OpenID cathmiller said...

So happy that you have acknowledged all your successes and realised that you do have your shit together! Thinking of you in the cold as we swelter in 100 Deg heat! Happy Hogmanay when it comes

December 16, 2013 at 12:31 AM  
OpenID cathmiller said...

So happy that you have acknowledged all your successes and realised that you do have your shit together! Thinking of you in the cold as we swelter in 100 Deg heat! Happy Hogmanay when it comes

December 16, 2013 at 12:31 AM  
Blogger kandy Gray said...

aaaannnnndddd my pipes burst.... crap.... now i have to figure out how to soldier....

December 16, 2013 at 12:58 AM  
Blogger Ngo Family Farm said...

You rock!

December 16, 2013 at 2:25 AM  
Blogger Northwest Girl said...

@E

You seem distressed. Please read or re-read Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning. It discusses the battle between good and evil.

December 16, 2013 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger Northwest Girl said...

Jenna - I'm happy you are in a good space today! I wish we had snow!

December 16, 2013 at 10:26 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

E- that is a worrysome comment. Hope you are okay?

December 16, 2013 at 10:40 AM  
Blogger kandy Gray said...

and now the pipes are fine....... but..... the drane is frozen.....

December 18, 2013 at 4:45 PM  

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