Thursday, February 25, 2010

pre-coffee mornings

Some mornings I can go outside and tend to the farm without coffee. Some mornings I can't. This was a morning I needed coffee before carhartts. Winter here requires so much less work than spring and summer, but it's so much harder. There are no 4:45 goat bottle feeding appointments, mulching, weeding, chick bedding or rabbit hutch cleaning before 7 AM. Instead there are angry 15-minute rounds of raw essentials: food, water, shelter. Just keeping everyone fed, watered, and on clean bedding in a deep snow seems to be so much more effort than the hours spent in sunshine in May. The cold and below freezing temperatures make time last longer. You wake up to the kind of howling wind and sunless mornings that make you wish you had a woodstove right near the bed with four extra blankets and you never even heard the word "sheep" before.

With all that bitching said, I love it here. Honest, I don't mind it, specially when I'm finally suited up and outside in all my armor. But it has turned more than one person away from northern farm life. It's something to think about if you are starting up your own homestead. You need to love the cut as much as the scar. Even a backyard chicken hutch will mean you're walking out there twice a day come January. That means extra shoveling, glove liners, hauling bags of feed, and collecting eggs before they freeze. For some folks it's a deal breaker, and understandably so. But for me, it's the bitter mornings and trudging through snow that makes summer (and Autumn, espcially autumn)so lovely. Now that the snow is getting slushier, and the novelty of winter waning—I find myself paying extra attention for warmer winds and hoping for rain. I haven't heard a good rain in a long time. The kind that brings thunder and slams against the tin roof. I'm ready for spring. Yes, I am.


Blogger Christine Crocker said...

I love your writing,Jenna.
I can see and hear and feel every word.

I'm here with my coffee, just fed the animals and our wind is warm, but I'm sure not for long.

I was wondering how to contact you off the blog?

thanks for a wonderful place to dream along with,

February 25, 2010 at 1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm right there with ya sista!

February 25, 2010 at 1:53 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm with you Jenna...I'm looking forward to thunder storms so loud you can feel the rumble in your chest and lightening that makes the dead of night seem like late afternoon. I'm done with the snow and cold for another year...just wish Mother Nature was done as well!
Tami E.

February 25, 2010 at 1:53 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

This morning in the rain, I slogged out to the chicken house in Muck Shoes and night gown while the coffee brewed. While it isn't green or homesteady by the purists definition, I love my Honda snowblower. I've done my share of shoveling and mechinized snow removal is the best. Now back to perusing catalogs and websites for spring chicks.

February 25, 2010 at 2:20 PM  
Blogger smilingcat said...

It's the yin and Yang thing with weather. We can't truly appreciate the gentle spring and the lazy summer without the cold bitter winter.

besides, variation is wonderful. The monotony of sunny day today, tomorrow... and year from now creates pure bordom. The monotony can drive one crazy.

Coffee in the morning is good. Personally, I go for Chai.

February 25, 2010 at 2:24 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

I'm in the process now, of researching chicken rearing to see if I really, really want to do it. And it's the trudge out in the cold in the cold months that has me being more realistic than I usually am. But, I'm researching still.

Which reminds me to tell you that yesterday I popped into a new urban farm supply store in Portland off 99E to check it out, and in addition to the usual, they also had lots of books on gardening and raising various small livestock, and oh! lo and behold! they had a copy of Made From Scratch, by Jenna Woginrich!

February 25, 2010 at 2:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hear you - somedays I have to talk myself into going out to the chicken coop. But...they need me! :)

February 25, 2010 at 3:04 PM  
Blogger birdy.j said...

I often trudge out in my bathrobe and hunter muck boots to the chicken coop. We have an urban farm (chickens, honeybees, fruits and veg so far) and so I often wonder what the neighbors think.
My partner and I LOVE your blog. Do you accept visitors? I want to come and smile at your amazing animals.

February 25, 2010 at 3:29 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

I have a particularly hard time with cold, wet, windy mornings. Once I'm actually out there, it's okay. It's getting myself out there that's the hard part.

And I've had about all the rain I can stand for a lifetime, just in the last six months. Wow.

February 25, 2010 at 3:50 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Montero said...

I'll swap you your cold and snow for our mudbath. Warmth layers I can cope with; Donning plastic coverall and rubber gloves to tend the animals is starting to make me feel like some kind of farming pervert.

I'm bottle feeding the first crop of orphan lambs, and they always come before coffee.

February 25, 2010 at 5:14 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 25, 2010 at 6:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


February 25, 2010 at 6:08 PM  
Blogger Harvest Kitchen Sisters said...

For me, I love going into the barn to see the ladies(hens I mean...)I love collecting the eggs and just this year I have a variety of different heritage breeds that lay the tasiest pullet eggs(I even have blue and green egg layers!)I love my daily battle with Tom turkey and watching the hens gobble up kitchen scrapes and sprouted wheat!

February 25, 2010 at 7:17 PM  
Blogger KellyV (Kelly the Fifth) said...

Now - hey there, smiling cat! :) ...Just because it is 75 degrees and purely sunny today with the San Gabriel Mountains green and gorgeous, I mean! Not so monotonous!! And Mt. Baldy is white, white, white with snow. But - sadly, yes, this is a megalopolis for sure. I envy Jenna her little farm.

February 25, 2010 at 7:49 PM  
Blogger panthercreekcottage said...

Every season ingrained emotionally and physically. This is what homesteading does to those who choose it. Oh how I would love to speed along on the back of a dog sled. Perfect, that's all I can say.

February 25, 2010 at 8:14 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I hear ya, sister. I grew up farming, so it is all natural to me. I dated a guy in college who didn't understand how a person could make themselves go out in bitter cold to feed animals. He was a city boy and probably still is. I love my life in the country with my animals.

February 25, 2010 at 9:21 PM  
Blogger Ohiofarmgirl said...

Chores before coffee? Oh no..not in this weather. I'm done with the whole cold cold cold thing. Come on spring!

February 25, 2010 at 9:39 PM  
Blogger Westfarm Goat Mom said...

Goodness do I ever understand. Here in the Colorado mountains its still very much winter. This time of year the gates and barn doors become blocked by ice. But I still love the goat and chicken chores twice a day. The other morning in the frozen world I heard red winged black birds - a sure sign of spring.

February 26, 2010 at 7:55 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

It's snowing and blowing AGAIN. I, too, am so ready for spring. Also, am really glad we decided to spend the money this year on a heated waterer for the chickens. Still needs filling but only every 2-3 days. Dh built a feeder that holds a weeks worth so if I can't make myself go out just yet the "girls" have food and water.

February 26, 2010 at 8:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The rhythms of life are such a blessing, even when they are monotonous or painful. The flow of the seasons is much like pregnancy. Just when you think you can't bear another second of being pregnant, labor starts and the whirlwind of activity, pain and hard, hard work results in a life changed and a life started.

This time of year is like those last few weeks of pregnancy, I think. Spring will bring much hard work and new blisters, but right now, it's hard to bear.

February 26, 2010 at 8:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spring around here is bittersweet. Instead of the crisp clean winter snow, we get piles of wet muddy slush. Times like now where I think February is worthless and we should skip straight to May. But at the same time, the slush means its getting warmer and the earth is thawing. Just wish it would thaw a little faster...

February 26, 2010 at 8:59 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

Everyone's responding to the ideas of cold, and coffee, and feeding the animals no matter what. I'm blown away by "You have to love the cut as much as the scar." What a line! It made me hang my head into my hand and repeat it out loud, with wannabe writer envy. If it's original to you, then you need to be writing poetry or songs, too.

February 26, 2010 at 9:30 AM  
Blogger Toni aka irishlas said...

I agree that once you are "suited up" and get outside you're glad to be there. No matter the biting winds or frigid temps. I always take a moment, no matter how cold to just appreciate what I have and what I am doing.

February 26, 2010 at 9:47 AM  
Blogger Sue said...

On my suburban homestead, the chickens are under the back deck and we reach through the laundry-room window to feed them and check the heated waterer. (The trade offis I crack my head at least once a day collecting eggs.)
I'm a SoCal transplant (Mt. Baldy! I remember it well!) to Northern Colorado, and while I missed seasons and weather during my 24 years in Socal, this winter is testing my dedication to four-seasons. I'm so glad the birds are singing their mating songs, I can imagine Spring on its way, at least...

February 26, 2010 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger Affi'enia said...

We've had rain for 24 hours straight which is a welcome relief from the snow. But to prove that Barnheart really has a hold on me I was actually looking forward to the prospect of feeding the chickens before work, even if it was raining. I used to be a likes being in the rain when coming home from places but not going to them kinda gal.

February 26, 2010 at 12:50 PM  
Blogger Paige said...

If you want a good rainstorm, you should have visited us up here in Maine last night! It was howling so hard I thought we were in a hurricane. No lightning, though. I miss that part about the Midwest, the crazy thunderstorms that turn the sky green and make you tempt fate just a bit longer before running down in the tornado shelter with the family. Who needs extreme sports? ;)

February 26, 2010 at 12:55 PM  

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