Cabin Fever and a Snowless Cold
They say the doldrums of winter usually peak in February. Yes, the month of Valentine’s and wintry romance is when they and their effects typically hit the depth of their slow plunge into darkness. My sincere hopes are that this is, and sooner than later, was indeed it. That cold that seemed to descend so quickly, seemed as though sent to murder all mildness; that cold had us in the grips slogging about like a late season half frozen bee or fly in a windowsill with a bit of something worn on every face of the passerby. A little urgency, a longing for the next warm place, a cup of tea or hot toddy. If there is much else on folk’s minds they don't say it.
“Stayin’ warm out there!?”
"Too cold for thinkin' out there."
“Cold enough for ya?”
“Actually, not at all. I could go for dropping another 20 degrees. Maybe then the pipes would freeze ALL the way to the barn!” In truth, I don't get that sarcastic. There is no sense in being rammy now, here inside the doldrums where every positive sentiment is a treasure necessary for the maintenance of collective sanity. Besides, as resolutions I have taken the New Year’s vow to be decidedly more optimistic, unafraid to look in the rear view and celebrate what I've done rather than stew about what remains while plodding ahead; that and to put an end to the practice of swearing at inanimate objects during huffs of unfortunate circumstance. I pretty much laugh and smile saying something more like “Hurrying home to keep the wife and kid and diesel warm…”
Maybe I line up a bit more with Robert Frost who said, “You can't get enough winter in the winter.” I bet though that this damn extended snap isn't what he means by winter; barren brownness of dead grass and sleepy trees like an old naked man without a blanket and then those falling degrees registering in the teens to twenties below the zero on the thermometer. Yuck. Maybe Frost had simply had enough of the passing colloquialisms and was just saying get over it, it's winter and we are all just animals like the rest. Probably he was simply celebrating the very best of idyllic, Norman Rockwell winter and that like the dog days of even the most splendid summer, you have to take the good with the bad.
I battled the stretch here at the farm fueled by holiday cheer and snuggled up with momma and/or little Milo, stoking the fire, bundling up to visit the cattle shed and fork out rock hard frozen cow turds, but what happens when Momma and little Milo go back to work? I pace around in my long john underwear reading Louis L’Amour, avoiding carbohydrates and trying to deny my sweet tooth the remaining bounty of holiday treats; that's what happens. That fire stays stoked, but it takes some kind of flame to melt the damp chill of the lonely, and so I look to Squirt, our Mastif for a cuddle buddy. She is a beast of great size, a lovable lump of warmth and I was giddy with the prospect of her and I with a blanket upon the giant bean bag; coffee and quinoa puffs with almond butter within reach and a string of Westerns lined up on Netflix. She seemed giddy as well, which was why she must have been as disappointed as I was with how things went when she approached my lonely little nest. Squirty greets with her meaty paws and big kisses, and as we met, almost instantaneously I pushed at her broad brindle chest and leapt back, coffee and quinoa sent to the floor in a quick fit of disgust. The thing about all true beasts is that they love old, dead animal carcasses and the bigger the beast, the bigger the carcass they can drag home. Squirt had been in something rotten at least neck deep. I would guess that for most of us a neutral if not at least somewhat pleasant smell is a prerequisite for a potential cuddle buddy, and that any circumstance that should slide a being to the side of the spectrum where rotten lives, well I suspect that is what’s called a deal breaker.
So I sat alone with my westerns, pausing to pace a bit, balance on my bosu ball, warm up my coffee and wonder if perhaps neighbor Harold or maybe even the Jehovah fellow who reads to me from the Watchtower will stop by for a chat. Alas, I would be left alone. With new hair trimmers I carve my old beard into several different styles. I go with big chops, an angular goatee, and a real thick hillbilly fu manchu , eventually settling on a mustache somewhere between a good ol’ cookie duster and the classic deviant looking lip trim. Later, my wife just laughs and when I ask Milo what he thinks of Daddy’s beard he shouts, “Put it back on!”
Pondering doing something, even taxes, just about anything really to stem the tide of guilt brought on by this strange sedentary state, I watch from the kitchen window for action with the Highland gals and their little stud Jersey bull in the barnyard. I'm fairly certain we are coming up on the sweet spot of an egg cycle and that young bull seems up to the task. I let him in with the girls the other day and upon the realization that he was indeed on their side of the fence, his upper lip curled as if he'd turned into a hee-haw caricature of himself. He shook from his ears back to the top of his tail. His legs buckled and straightened, and as if to make sure everything was properly functional he unsheathed a strange and slender pink rocket penis. Quickly then, and without the buildup or fanfare, he holstered that thing and went about to inspect the digs on this side of the big gate and poke at the hay that he was certain was greener than what was being served to the boys on the other side.
The cow beds are soft and dry and warm. The tanks are plum full with heaters functional to combat the sub zero freeze. I have even called my wife and she says it is alright to just sit around sometimes and actually do nothing. And that's when I stumbled upon Peaky Blinders... Yes, the Netflix historical gangster warfare smash has made its way to our driftless farm valley through the magic of fiber optics and now I wander around the house talking in a muddled Irish and English accent calling my wife a gypsy and my boy a “fooking tinka” when he's being a little shithead. I read the mail to sort out allies from those plotting against the family. I wonder now if my wife wishes she’d have encouraged me to work on the master bathroom or any number of household projects mired in DIY stagnation? I work on taxes just to feel accomplished, sloshing a cocktail and watching football to maintain a relaxing balance of work and play while I perform the juggle of a thousand receipts. This is winter, and though the old man has yet to reveal much of his usual beauty, winter it is; and winter, among a few other things, is for planning.
So plan we will as there will be much to do when spring rolls around. This season we are not only re-adding chickens and eggs to our offerings, but also adding honey, select fresh and frozen vegetables, organic composted soil amendment, local art and more! To commemorate Milo’s third trip around the calendar this June we will be opening for visitors. Thursday through Sunday the farm will be open to hikers, bikers and curious consumers starting with a grand opening farm-to-table picnic! Come visit the gardens and pastures that you can shop from on this website! Stay tuned for details on all farm-to-table events, composting demonstrations and more.
Thanks for checking in to the second installment of the Savvy Savage Blog @ greenergrass.farm, we hope you're navigating the winter blues in the best way you know how. Keep an eye out for installment number 3 coming soon, COMPOST HAPPENS: The process and wonder of living soil.
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