Friday, February 25, 2011

February almost over...days now with the hens freed to run in the patchy snow, sheep still lying contentedly by the feeders in the late afternoon sunshine. We had a chimney fire last week which necessitated an early start to my spring cleaning and a flood in the barn that more or less dampened the evening of Family Day.

We have reclaimed our childhood farm home for our family use and this was the first gathering since last summer. We intermittently gathered to clean and polish over the past three weeks and one evening my two brothers showed up like repo men and loaded the family couch, table and lamp on their trucks so it could be restored to it's rightful place in mother's living room. Various other bits of furniture and dishes made their way back and finally mother herself rehung the Holstein cow picture in the kitchen and all was once again safe and familiar.

We pot lucked our way through 104 chicken wings, several pounds of ribs,some fried pickerel,half a dozen cold side salads, a vast crockpot of fried rice after consuming a table full of appetizers such as nacho bean dip, spanakopita,veggies and fruits with dip and heavens knows what other carb loaded morsels. Dessert was restrained with only a "mud pie" serving forty, two cakes, a couple of pies and a tub of

After this largesse,we drove home to discover the now thawed tap spewing water onto the barn floor and Esmeralda in her maternity ward watching the rising water level with piggly trepidation. Three hours with push brooms and shovels and shavings and sawdust managed to removes most of the damp.

That was Monday night and now, on Friday evening, Esmeralda still hasn't farrowed. It has been a busyish week with vacuuming soot and cobwebs and finishing up the research and reservations for my brothers European trip slated to start next Monday. February went by effortlessly, because I spent most of it in Spain and Italy in spirit!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Finally, my darned poky Internet connection is taking forever today to let me do anything online. This makes me grumpy and I am feeling as if Internet is more an albatross around one's neck than a wonderful connection to the world outside my rural life.
The past few days remind me that I do not deal well with February! In fact, I deal with it so badly that thirty years ago in my "first life" on this farm, I dashed off an essay on the subject, sent it off to the Ottawa Citizen, and was most pleased and surprised to get a call from an editor who wanted to use it AND to send me a cheque for 250.00. That improved the month tremendously.
My distaste for this short but bleak and seemingly endless month has actually resulted in many good things in my life. My February malaise has seen us in Texas, in Bermuda, in Portugal, Spain and Mexico for up to two months at a time. My reasoning is...if you have to spend all that money on airfare and drain the pipes anyway, you might as well stay long enough to make it worthwhile. That is why the goddess invented credit cards!
But now, having had the brilliant idea to take up farming at an age when most sane people are perusing retirement living condos, I find myself lock, stock and feed barrel tied to a rura Ontario february.
Today, I am tired of it! I am tired of forking hay in one end and manure out the other of my sheepish darlings. I am tired of endless stoking of wood stoves and furnaces and the sweeping of dust, bark and ashes. I am particularly tired of the endless dressing and undressing in layers of outerwear each time I have to gather eggs, water sheep and chickens, do chores, bottle feed cindyloulambiekins etc etc. I
I have been helping my youngest brother plan a trip to Europe in less than three weeks. Being on European websites has reminded me how much I love to be by the blue Mediterranean while the snow whirls in Ontario. I have a solution but Tom won't hear of it.
Surely there is a cortijo for rent somewhere in southern Spain where I could graze a flock and make cheese and sell it to the gringas in the mercado. Andalusia, sunshine, sheep, it could all be mine! Seems outlandish but I know it really could be possible. I'll hold onto that vision for five years or so and see where it ends up.

Sick and tired of Winter!!!!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Reassessing, more writing, preparing for spring

Where do the days go?
Our winter life this year is pleasantly peaceful, interspersed with the small tasks of rural survival. We feed and water sheep and laying hens, we take livestock to the abattoir, load meat into freezers, fill orders for the food co-op, go for feed, haul wheelbarrows of manure out of the barn and wheelbarrows of firewood out of the bush, light fires, take out the ashes, snowblow the lane way, wash and box eggs, unroll round bales, bottle feed the lamb, sweep, dust,clean and maintain a reasonably pleasant household in a milieu of livestock, hay, shavings, manure, slush, sawdust, wood ash and dog hair.
Every now and then I dress in something other than old jeans and have Tom drop me off in Ottawa while he carries on to berwick for a load of feed from homestead Organics. I usually start off in the byword market where I collect outstanding cheques from restaurants to whom we sell our organic pork and if that is accomplished quickly, I have time to browse books at chapters or wander through the rideau centre. The novelty of all those retail possibilities usually wears off within the hour as there truly is nothing I need or want to buy in aLl those glamerous shops.
I have my iPad and when I need clothes I go to value village. I like my comfortably worn furniture and Household possessions. The things I do desire are more prosaic and not available in shopping malls anyhow. Things like shiny new green farm gates and sturdy rolls of page wire fence and a compost pile thermometer and bright red chicken feeders.,s not thatnI am devoid of needs or is merely a different sort of shopping mania!