Cold weather is coming. Today the temperature rose to the low forties and when I left the house for afternoon chores, it still felt almost balmy down in the protected hollow around our homestead. I had been busy doing this and that most of the day and had not felt the slightest chill whatsoever. Feeling chipper and carefree, I opted to leave my heavy coat behind and head on out for chores without that extra burden. Big mistake. When I got up on the ridge and out into the open pasture, the air was changing. The cold air was skipping merrily in from the north. The livestock also happened to be situated in a north-facing paddock today, and the sun was mostly masked behind thick, cold clouds. It didn’t take much time before I was pulling up the hood of my sweatshirt and shoving my hands deep into my coveralls pockets (my gloves were also in that heavy chore coat I was not wearing…). The temperature is not supposed to rise above freezing until this weekend, and tomorrow night we could be kissing the zero degree mark. I know for many of you hard core northern-types, you are probably rolling your eyes at my laments. One day at zero… big deal.But, but… here in Kentucky we live in this simultaneously magical and frustrating zone of the planet. We can graze our animals year-round on pasture and don’t have to house them in the barn for half of the year. We do feed hay also, but each paddock has some grass for the grazing. Sometimes, even, the grass will actually grow just a bit in the winter. Not a lot, mind you, but some. On the flip side, since we can graze the livestock year-round, pasture water-systems are seldom set up for long stretches of below freezing temperatures. It would cost an absolute fortune (primarily in time/labor) to freeze-proof all of that pipe, and we aren’t very flush in the time/labor/money department right now. Installing and engineering the hydraulic ram pump powered water system that services our pastures was enough of a task back in the day. And it works perfectly 99% of the time. We certainly have pretty reliable “back-up plans” as far as getting water to the livestock, but none are as easy as plugging a hose into the pipe that bisects each pasture. So this evening during chores, Eric had to fill up extra water tubs in anticipation for the coming frozen days. Every morning and evening, we will be busting the ice in those tubs so that the perpetually thirsty bovines can get their precious drinks.The ever undulating mercury and the constant freezing and thawing that this region experiences also brings forth mud. Lots of mud. But I don’t want to think about that right now. Right now I want to think about cold. I want to think about hard frozen ground. I want to think about the deep penetrating freeze we are about to experience. It feels good and right and necessary. There is work happening amidst the freeze. Good work. Cleansing work. From my gardener’s point of view, I know that my garlic crop needs a certain number of chill days in the winter so that it doesn’t form, what we call, “club roots” (one giant single clove/bulb, non-segmented). I know, also, that a good hard winter will knock next year’s insect pests in the garden down a notch or two. The maple sap will run harder. I will be more ready for spring.The changing of the calender year, coupled with this coming cold weather, has got me fired up to clean my personal slate. I’ve been hell-bent, bound and determined to get my household in order.
Maybe it’s a resolution of sorts, but I don’t really make resolutions. (Except maybe to knit more, hula-hoop more, and just be nicer. There. Those are my resolutions.)
Maybe it’s because I can sense the slightest shift in day-length, each day just a little bit more; each day one step closer to crazy spring.
Maybe it’s because I know the cold weather is coming and I know the whole family will likely be indoors more and I know first-hand how much better everyone behaves and gets along when the house is orderly.
Maybe it’s just because I am a Virgo and I can’t help it.
Anyhoo, today the girl’s room got the one-over. And while I was busy there, Ira decided it was a perfect time to make gingerbread cookies. So all three kids quickly set to mixing ingredients and flinging flour and rolling out dough. And licking their fingers. Again and again.
So while I was cleaning one slate, another one found itself in dire need of cleaning. Isn’t that just the way it goes? Round and round and round again. The days. The seasons. The years. Do the dishes, turn around, do the dishes again. So, I guess the jokes on me. I’m the one hanging on to the neat and tidy fetish. But at least there was gingerbread to snack on while I tackled the kitchen mess!