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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Spring stillness

The house smells like lemon butter cookies. This is the newest batch of soap curing. I hope it suds up as well as is smells.
  I found a use for that lard in the freezer from our pigs. Traditional soap making is such a fun endeavor. Albeit, a bit frightening when you have to don safety gear, I love following the process from start to finish, one part chemistry, one part following directions, two parts waiting and a pinch of creativity brings some excellent results. And so useful!

  Bill came out to see grass for the first time. It's februrary and I'm not freezig cold. The grass was tall at the end of the year and I didn't mind. It's almost hay-like now, but our new little lamb still sampled it all the same. Murray, his mother on the other hand just followed me around on a shakedown for some grain. 

  Soon there will be so much to do, but for now I will be happy with what little sunlight and warmth these early spring days yield as I plan with precarious patience at the growing season to come. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Groundhog Day

I love Groundhog Day. Not just the movie, but the holiday as well. A giant ground squirrel is indeed the perfect harbinger of spring. And a shadow is such a telling predictor. It's beautiful.

This is the time of year when winter starts to feel like that bit of sleep in between true sleep and trying to be asleep. Just when you think you might be asleep, you realize you aren't and that frightens you into complete awareness.

Just when you settle into the frigid Ohio cold rituals of scraping your car, putting on woolen socks, scarf, coat, hat, gloves tucked into sleeves and high boots to fight the snow, somehow the weather hints that winter might be just a dream. With eyes half closed, you walk out and the wave of realization falls upon you that it's not cold enough for 2 pairs of long johns. Maybe you were just dreaming.

This is the time when baby goats and lambs appear.

There's nothing quite like the promise of adorable little screaming creatures that make you want to get up early and put your boots on and brave the cold.
I can't tell you how many mornings I've gotten up early just to stare at ewe sheep, fat bellies sticking out uncomfortably underneath winter wool coats, chewing hay as they stare right back at me like they got up early just to see how I was doing that morning as well. They have that blank look like, what?

Exhibit A:
What? How are you doing? You look a bit pudgy with that giant coat on too.

This winter has been spring. I'm not sure when the leapfrog of seasons happened, or if we even had a winter but perhaps that's why I enjoy getting my weather predictions from a marmot. I've been doing winter cleanup in a light sweater, which I quickly lose when I really get moving.

The greenhouse still stands through it's first official winter. And I actually read my first Elliot Coleman book (ok, first two chapters) and quickly learned that my frustration with the lack of light isn't an isolated incident but rather a shared frustration of gardeners trying to extend the season.
He explains, you don't garden all seasons. You just figure out how to harvest all seasons. Growing happens when the sunlight allows for it. After that, you just protect your food until you are ready to eat it. Ahh. I see.
So now we are in this odd limbo of weirdly warm weather, but not enough light to do anything with it. Pepper and I have enjoyed it though as Frisbees still fly, even when daylight is less than 10 hours a day. And as for getting on the boots to bundle up and check on the sheep, I guess when it's nice out and I'm out all the time, the lambs just happen.
And when they happen on Groundhog Day, you can't help but name the new little one Bill Murray.