Perhaps we harp on it a bit much, but it is really the premier thought on our minds at this time of year...the cold, the snow, the darkness of winter.My second year farming, I finally got it. I finally understood what all of the fuss is about.
We, humans, have spent the last, oh, thousands of years working every spring, summer and fall to make sure we make it through the winter to another spring. (Okay, yes, I realize that I am leaving out the people who inhabit the areas around the equator - those places that see no change in seasons) Nevertheless, those people who were my close ancestors - Italian, Russian, German, English - all have spent three seasons of the year working to make sure they made it through the fourth. We have it a lot easier with our gas powered engines and refrigerators, but a lot of what we do really connects me to them and the life they must have lived.
So what exactly does preparing for the cold look like around here? Here is our list of chores for October and November: * harvest remaining things from garden - pumpkins and winter squash, peppers, beans, * Many things remain in the garden and need just a light covering of remay (polyester cloth) to protect them from the cold - we still have chard * Katie and I scooped up the last of the annual flowers - we just cut them even though they weren’t blooming and brought them in..before the hard frost a few nights ago. * collect seed from annual flowers and vegetables * plant and mulch Garlic for next year * till garden and sow winter rye as cover crop * Collect as many wild apples as I can and feed them to our pigs, as well as unripe pumpkins and winter squash * cut and stack firewood * clean out the green house and begin curing winter squash * cure and store potatoes * cover lettuces, chard, kale, arugula * mulch strawberries
I will continue with that. There is a soft white layer of frost over the fields that we look out onto from our house. I can see Abigail, Sierra, and Zeus waiting for me to come and milk Abby and bring them Hay. As soft and friendly as it looks from the warmth of my home, I know my hands will ache with the biting cold as I open her bucket of grain and lift the electric fence line to let her into her area. Thankfully hand milking is the warmest chore around. Once I begin I get to snuggle up to her 102 degree body and my hands will go to work releasing delicious creamy WARM milk into the pail.