The end of the 2018 growing season is upon us here in Maine. The gardens are slowly growing empty. I removed the rest of the tomatoes at the beginning of September. The potatoes have been pulled, the cucumbers have slowed to a crawl, and the peppers and beans are beginning the dwindle down. Next will be the rush of buttoning up the gardens for winter, mulching down the beds to keep the more delicate perennials happy, planting garlic, and canning the last fruits of the season, predominately apples.
This time of year always reminds me of an old pocket watch, the type you have to wind in order for it to keep time. As the kinetic energy slowly slips from the movements, the hands slow down and time begins to feel like its moving at the pace of molasses. It’s a slow, steady, and sometimes boring pace, dragging you through the happiest moments until even they start to become dull due to simply overstaying their welcome. Inevitably, you wind the clock back up because things have gotten too slow, only to be shocked as suddenly the opposite emerges. Time feels like it’s flying by, faster than it ever has! The winds are blowing crisper than before, the leaves are piling up by the minute on the ground, frosts come in consecutive nights and then don’t leave at all, and the next thing we all know, the first blizzard is pounding at the door, demanding to share in the comfort of our home.
Yes, this is the slow time. The time to indulge and try to remember that in mere days, if we’re lucky, we’ll be back to the break-neck speed so many of us homesteaders have learned to love.
Another storm is sneaking it’s way through Maine. Supposedly we’ll see 6 – 8 inches in our area, but even if we do, I doubt it will last for long.
The signs of spring are here. This morning the freeze was barely in the ground. While the top looked and felt solid, any pressure on the lawn give way, springing back in a manner of which reminds me of the descriptions of the tundra from my grade school science books.
Coming out of the coop, I was graced to see the first flock of geese fly not more than fifty feet above my head. It was glorious. As they went on the alight in Blaisdell’s field, my smile became brighter with the prospect of gardens, firewood preparation, and summer adventures. It was a needed blast of happiness as people’s bitterness and jealousy have been attempting to sour every joy as of late.
Stepping into the basement to get lunch out of the deep freeze for later, the smell of clean water seeping into the cracks in the concrete and the sound of the sump pump reminded me that, despite people’s belly aching, the snow is actually disappearing.
Spring is coming. It’s sneaking around the corner this year, instead of jumping up from the hedgerow. Soon the greens will push forth from cool soil as transplants wait for the air to warm up. The basement will be a cacophony of chicken chatter. The welcoming smell of spread manure will drift on the breeze.
For now, we’ll enjoy the warmth of the fire. It won’t last long, as spring will be here soon enough.
November 2nd saw our first snow storm of the New Year (following many Pagan calendars, that is). While some areas of the state saw up to 16 inches of snow, severe winds, and power outages, we received about 2 inches and wind gusts. Most of the snow is already melted off already.
Since we hadn’t originally planned on having the meat birds around this long, the tractors aren’t very winter-proof. We had to improvise, but everyone came out dry and happy. The only bird that had to crash in the basement with the two White Ladies was Jovi. He got a bit bloodied up from a pulled crest feather and needed a washing. I wasn’t about to let him back out into the tractor with freezing temperatures and a wet head. Not a good combination.
This weekend we’re supposed to see 40F. That’s going to feel downright hot compared to the weather lately.
It’s cold out. Don’t get me wrong. It’s cold. However, it is not the life threatening cold that others in the area seem be treating it as. Even with the windchill today it’s still warmer than some of the days that we’ve seen in the past couple weeks. It seems that, when it comes to winter, people have short memories. Maybe this is because they’re simply complaining based on what they know from walking to from the house to the car, from the car into work, and back again; they go home and turn the oil heat up, bring up Netflix, and then hop online on their phone to add the photo they took of their dashboard thermometer while they had their heat cranked so high that they ordered an ice coffee.
Give me a break.
I don’t complain about our lifestyle. I love it. If anything, it’s taught me how to be grateful about it being 20F outside, even with a severe windchill. Today was downright balmy when I went out to check the barn. It was nothing in comparison to a week or so ago when I had to add on two layers and couldn’t feel my fingers by the time I got back to the house. Less than ten minutes and I was having circulation issues. Today? Nope. The only issue I had was my mitten freezing to the lock from some water that spilled out I was bringing it out to the chickens. I was able to leave the interior door open and only fight with the screen door when bringing wood in. The living room only dropped one degree. I love it.
What’s been a little more difficult is the amount of ice and rain we’ve had between snowstorms. We awoke at 4am yesterday to a leaky roof in the bedroom. Thankfully we were able to have a local yocal that we know come and professionally clean it for the dirty cheap sum of $100. The roof that was leaking into our bedroom yesterday has stopped. No severe damage has occurred. Huzzahs are in order.
Meanwhile, Short Beak, our rooster, has a bit of severe frost bite on his comb. We’re keeping an eye on it and bagbalming it every chance we get. Poor goofball that he is. He’s been loving the undivided attention, though.
Well, we finally got hit with another ice storm. Took fifteen years for it to happen, but she’s here, that’s for sure. It’s been raining ice since Saturday night. I’m proud to say, though, that I was preemptive on bring wood to the front of the house. On Friday I filled the front bin, the empty half of the kindling bin, and brought in enough wood for two full days to be dried out around the stove. Needless to say, we still have a good stock pile no more than five feet from our front door, which is a godsend as the only way we would be able to get to the woodsheds right now is via ice-cleats and a pickaxe.
Hubster used the massive halogen work lights I bought him last year to finish up the interior structure of the new shed during the middle of the rain/icestorm. It’s a little too flimsy to leave it to its own accord in a Maine winter, that’s for true.
The chickens, dog, Little Mister, and this homesteader are all getting cabin fever, however. Given that the past three weeks have been too cold for walking (all except for one day and we only got in half a walk as Diamond split her nail that day – on the walk of course), and now with the ice which will be dissipating tomorrow only to bring in more arctic cold…Well, we’re stretching to find things to do.
Yesterday we used cardboard box, copious amounts of ducktape, and a bit of imagination to make a garage with barn doors for Little Misters various vehicles. I have no idea what to do tomorrow, though. He’s refusing naps now and doesn’t want to hang in his room by himself anymore. Today was a bit of a “win” as he’s now napping (with Bubble-Mater in bed with him) and actually played in his room for half an hour. I’m trying my hardest to try and get him back on a schedule that will also help me get time for thesis work next semester. Here’s hoping all works out, right? Bribery with a popcorn lunch is a good thing, don’t ya think?
On the plus side, with all this stuck-being-indoors, my house is slowly getting cleaned up, which means after my “sabbatical” from thesis work is over at the end of this week, I should be able to crank out more work without having to worry about things. Oh, that and get some very early seedlings goings. Right now I’m looking at getting some greenpeppers started severely early, along with some herbs and lettuce, in hopes that we might get the chance to get a mini-greenhouse constructed out of pallets and windows either during a January thaw or early in March. One can dream.