Winter’s Song

I love springtime and the return of the birds.  The warm sun on my face, my hands in the soil.  I do love seed packets and promises of gardens galore.  I love tree blossoms and flowers and bees and more.

I love summer and all the fun to be had.  The gardens and watering.  Fresh peas off the vine and corn growing high.  I love the long days and al fresco meals.  I love the way the hot sun feels.

I love autumn and its flurry of work.  Harvesting, preserving, the fatigue that comes.  The colors, the holidays the promises of rest.  The smell of wood smoke and coffee and warm blankets ’round the fire.

In my hurry to get back to spring, I was stopped in my tracks.  I checked on the chickens all warm in their house.  Big flakes of snow were falling suddenly from the sky.  The smell was so fresh.  The coolness livened my skin after the warm house within.  Such quiet descended as the flurries went on.  Just birds in the trees trying to keep warm.  Chirping and singing, they had quite a time.  As the flurries of fluffy snow came tumbling down, resting on trees and the sleeping ground.

Winter songs are of rest and peace.  Of cleansing and warmth.  Of cold and restoration.  This time I treasure for its ability to calm.  I am enjoying my hibernation.  Ready to be out in the garden beds in no time.  But in the meantime, the house is warm, the coffee’s hot, the snow is falling, and all is still.  Winter whispers, “Take a breath.”

DIY Seed Potatoes and Spring Planting

20180316_121644Today is the perfect day to finish the first spring planting.  When the moon is on its way to full, imagine the energy rising, so one would plant crops that grow above ground like peas, spinach, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, and lettuces.  When the moon is waning and heading towards a new moon the energy is focused below the ground and root crops are planted like potatoes, beets, and carrots.  The Farmer’s Almanac goes into more detail but I follow the best I can and also look at the weather.

Tonight we may have rain and tomorrow light snow.  That is a perfect finale for planting!

Last week I bought seed potatoes from a local nursery.  I usually buy seed potatoes through mail order.  Seed potatoes are not cheap, y’all.  I looked at those seed potatoes and they each had one eye.  As I planted that one eye in the ground a foot a part I remembered the potatoes with multiple eyes languishing in the basket in my kitchen.  I went and retrieved them.  I planted fingerling potatoes and red potatoes along with the Yukons.

You think a lot while you are digging in the soil and I remembered a few months ago when I stopped by a roadside stand.  The man was grumpy.  He picked up produce from all over and sold them it out of the back of his truck.  We had an argument because he didn’t believe that pinon nuts were the same as pine nuts.  He wouldn’t sell organic potatoes because they rot too quick.  He pulled out a few bags of organic potatoes with eyes growing out of them attaching to the bag.  Conventional potatoes are sprayed so that they don’t sprout.

I have been a Farmgirl a long time, y’all, why am I still purchasing seed potatoes?  Buy a bag of organic potatoes from the store in varieties you enjoy.  When they start to sprout cut them into large pieces with at least two eyes on each.  Plant in loose soil eight inches down.  Cover with straw once they sprout.

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Do a rain and snow dance after you finish your spring planting!

The Wide Hearth

20180206_073304As you head south from Colorado Springs and enter into the valley of Southern Colorado the weather changes sharply.  Pueblo gets far less snow than our northern brethren and the temperatures don’t hover at below zero like places we have lived.  This morning we woke to snow.  It is still too cold for us though and one day we shall live somewhere without snow.  Our dog did look rather shocked when he went outside this morning!  He, for one, does not mind snow a bit.  (Though he is currently sleeping on a giant pillow in the living room right now.)

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It is this type of weather that makes me dream of one of my favorite architectural elements, the wide, walk-in fireplace.  The hearth that sustained generations over the years has seemingly disappeared in favor of furnaces.  There is just something so comforting about a fire in hearth, a cast iron pot hanging from a hook with supper cooking away ready for any visitor to pour a ladle of something hot and nourishing into a bowl to warm themselves.  There is something lovely and rustic about a family pulled up to the warmth on a snowy winter’s eve with knitting or books or fiddle.

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I love my little house with the cast iron wood stove.  It creates such beauty and warmth to our living space.  If I ever build my own house I shall make the counters four inches higher, remove the ceiling fans, make everything in the bathroom higher (houses weren’t made for tall people!), create an open living plan, and put in a walk-in, large fireplace to warm our home on…ahem…rainy days.  Enjoy the snow!

Wintertide

It is about now that I start wanting my house guest to leave.

“Winter,” I say, “Old Chap, is there anywhere else you need to be soon?”

He shakes his head through gales of frost.

I put on another cup of coffee.  Put another log on the fire.

The cold crops go in the ground in six or seven short weeks.  We will have bustling to do to get the new garden fenced and the soil ready.  We will devour the warm days as they come.  Spring will surely rise from the frozen ground.  I appreciate the rest, the rest for the plants and trees, the water, the blah, blah, blah.

‘Tis about the mid of January that I am ever ready for blessed warmth and activity.  Yet Jack Frost rarely hauls out slow so I must welcome the guest awhile longer.

The snow lightly covers the landscape as the golden sun arises and sends glitter across the lawn.  My winter puppy is in love with the season and leads his walk outdoors by mouthing up big gulps of icy snow.  I found a small, fallen branch.  Abandoned after falling out of yonder tree.  The sap still slightly sticky.  I brought it home.  It is the flower of winter, the conifer bough, and it sits proudly in its vase upon the stove.  (The only place the kitties can’t get it.)  It hearkens the beauty of winter-all of its reds and greens and glittered snow and great open blue sky-and reminds me to walk upon its icy tread, to breathe fresh air and not yet make the spring to-do list, but to visit geese and winter ducks and welcome the winter time.

For a few more months anyway….

 

Snowfall

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Across shallows and brooks

the snow falls driftlessly down

laying thickly over pines and rooftops in town.

Winter softens into spring

but today her cold gaze

diligently waters the ground, a frozen blanket lays.

A perk for bulbs who will hobble forth

quench the thirst of trees and the new growth

the bitter cold will not wane

Oh, why couldn’t Mother Earth just send rain?

Glittering Grace

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” Across the plains of glittering grace,

behold Winter’s beautiful face”

“…But all along the Rockies you can feel it in the air
From Telluride to Boulder down below
The closest thing to heaven on this planet anywhere
Is a quiet Christmas morning in the Colorado snow…” Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

“Country Roads Take Me Home…” John Denver

The deer pictures were taken from my front door.  The rest were taken driving to see our daughter.  Colorado is certainly a beautiful place to live and we are lucky to see all the seasons in all their glory.

Winter Delights

Outside the sliding glass doors, under the clothes line he stood.  Regal and great.  Large antlers he held with grace and the snow on his thick fur glittered in morning light.  A young doe lay near.  Under the pine tree she held her gentle face to the sun.  I watched them from the window in calming awe.

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We readied for work and walked out of the house and turned to walk down the long snow packed driveway.  There we startled four fluffy young deer.  They stood still for a moment then hopped away in their comical rabbit-like impersonation.  Their bouncing feet stirring the light snow as they quickly adjourned down the pasture.

Last night under the full moon we drove slowly up the driveway basking in the moonlight and there they were again.  Four youth and the doe.  They greeted us and huddled closer.  So enchanting.

Is it possible that one doe could have four infants?  They are the very same size and seeming age.  I was always under the impression that deer generally only birthed one infant.  Do you think she is mother of quadruplets or did she adopt these young babies?

Either way I feel blessed to see them.  To be near them.  To share this beautiful earth with them.

May this beautiful season bring with it great blessings, tidings from friends, and memories of joy and laughter for all of you. 

Blizzard

It’s warm inside (as opposed to last year in the heatless homestead!) and the smells of coffee welcome the morn.  Last night I ran through the snow and climbed the now completely covered staircase to the driveway to see the light.  The sky was pink with storm and the brightened sky was odd for late at night but the beauty and mystery of it all was exhilarating as sixty mile an hour winds whipped up snow tornados and filled the fresh air with magic.  The blizzard had arrived.

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We woke to high drifts and wind making the snow look as if it were falling upward.  Streams of sideways thick snow continues to fall on our patch of earth.

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I said a blessing over the trees last night.  Told them to spread their roots out and hold on, be strong.  As old as they all are they have seen more storms than I but these storms can be brutal to trees and I wanted a bit of protection over them.  They stand strong this morning facing the winds that are too riotous to tame.  It is a gloriously beautiful morning.

A Very Prairie Christmas

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The bees were out yesterday.  I could hear their sweet buzzing all around me as they took advantage of the beautifully tepid day.  Just a hint of coolness swept the air to remind me that it was December but the sun shone bright and warm and I decided to take a walk across the prairie.  The barn owl swept in front of me, round and solid, his steel colored wings glinting slight across the air in front of me, gracefully sweeping across the prairie.  The mountains rested majestically across the horizon, their shadowy masses holding the sky.  A group of horses gathered in the distance grazing softly.

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The ancient willow holds masses of singing blackbirds and large owls.  A century or more of memories do my favorite trees hold.  Signs of cattle that grazed here long ago, and of antelopes not so long.  The Buffalo grasses with their curvy heads and the colorful prairie grasses defied the supposed snowy landscape that is so often envisioned with Christmas.  This is what a Colorado Christmas often looks like.  I find myself wishing for a bit of snow.  Sunday we are to get a little and the feeling of Christmas will shine all the brighter.

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I gather kindling with my companion. (The neighbor’s dog, Serina, who is ridiculously cute.)

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Inside the house, all is bright.  Simple decorations best show the spirit of Christmas in this hundred plus year old homestead.  This year we got our first real Christmas tree and it feels simple and beautiful.

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Real greenery, candles, pine cones, feathers…cats…all decorate the scene.  The birds play outside in their feeder entertaining the felines.  Our new rescues add quite a lot of Christmas cheer to this place!

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A vintage sled sets boldly on the dining room table with fresh greens and candles.  This helps create a feeling of fun and winter magic.

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Outdoors the woodland creatures welcome visitors.

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Everyone has one sadness or another at Christmas time.  Remembering and missing loved ones, financial woes, relationship troubles, irritation with our consumerism society.  But the spirit of Christmas is there all the same.  Beautiful and glowing, we remember that God ever loves us and takes care of us and that our prayers are always answered.  Sometimes the puzzle comes together later and we can see why things occurred but they are always answered.  We will celebrate Hanukkah with Doug’s parents and remember the miracles that God made and we will remember the child born, the reason for the season.  Not in a legalistic, all must believe everything I believe way, but in a spirit of humility and humbleness.  Prayers for those deceased, prayers for the living.  Acts of kindness without folks expecting it.  Simple things like paying for someone else’s coffee or sending an unexpected letter.

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This year we haven’t much money.  All the lists I love to make throughout the year of things I would like to get people I cannot.  It makes me sad because even though I talk about simple this and simple that, I want to spoil my children and give Doug all the things he won’t buy for himself.  I want my friends to have beautiful gifts and I want…well, this year is a handmade Christmas.  Quilts, aprons, scarves, canned foods, and baskets of goodies, gifts tailored for the recipient and wrapped with love, but not store bought and I wonder how folks will take to these but I shall give them with the spirit of Christmas, with love and with a giving heart.  I will remember that our blessings are many.  For I had material and food to can and I have people to make things for.  My heart overflows with joy.

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A handmade, simple Christmas on the prairie is a blessing for sure.  Time to put on my favorite Christmas album by Andy Williams (my son’s namesake) and do a little sewing!  May you have a simple season filled with love and fond memories of past and present.

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And may your heart be filled with the childlike wonder of Christmas…

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Winter Storm on a Homestead

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The season’s first storm blew upon the land.  Racing winds howled across the prairie.  The sounds both ominous and exhilarating.  The house shook, the wood stove crackled, cats snuggled close.  The midnight sky showed only coal black.

This morning the house read forty-five degrees.  Our breath showing in threads in the main room.  In the kitchen the little wood stove-that-could chugs along trying to keep up with the frosty chill.  A gentle snow is falling.

Horses escaped their pasture to the north and came galloping across our pasture.  A dozen majestic creatures stirring the snow and playing freely as they made their dawn run.

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The howling prairie now calm and peaceful, it is eleven degrees with the holiday snow flitting down.  The kitchen is warming, the coffee is hot, and the day ahead seems best spent beneath a warm comforter watching holiday movies!

But first chores need to be done.  Bundled up and braving the cold we need to check on chickens, break their icy water, give them food to warm themselves.  The goats are still away.

There is a great peace here.  A silent solace that calms the spirit.

Three cords of wood stacked high, a fire in the kitchen where we rub our hands together to keep warm…such is a homesteader’s life.