Monday, December 22, 2008

The Return of the Light

Yesterday was Winter Solstice. And today I had meant to write something on the inspirational side about how the dark of the past days will be lessening, how we can look forward to increasing hours of illumination and that rebirth is just around the corner. But at this moment, the idea hasn’t quite processed yet.

We have had below freezing temperatures for over a week now. The first day of cold that I particularly remember is December 13th, the day that I forgot to go to our monthly spinners’ gathering. That was a good thing, in retrospect. As it turned out we had quite a wind storm that day. If I remember correctly, 25 mph winds, with 40 mph gusts, and low 20’s for temperature. So wind chill factor. . . reallly cold. That day, the flashing on the roof of the old barn became partiallly ripped off and flapped violently in the gusts. The animals (rams, goats & alpacas) were startled & agitated, and I feared that the flashing could become detached, fly off & injure somebody. We had the old barn moved last year, and perhaps not quite enough screws were replaced. Whatever the reason, there was nobody to deal with it but me. I was very fortunate in that the one friend that I was able to locate, that had also missed the meeting, had recently put a metal roof on her studio. She knew what kind of screws to use to penetrate the metal & go into the wood, and she was steady & strong on the ladder. Between the two of us (she did most of the work), we got the flashing reattached, and I am happy to say it is still in place.

Since that day, we have not had temperatures above freezing. We have been down to single digits, with and without wind & snowfalls. The chicken and pigeon water freezes & needs changed about three times a day, as does the water for the rams, alpacas & goats. That means hauling water from the house. The ewes are in the new barn, which has running water (which is actually running) but the hoses are all frozen. So again, it’s hauling water, but not as far. The snow on the ground is drifted. In places it’s 5” deep, where in other places, well, I just know that it’s well above my knees. It takes time and energy to slog through all this, getting food & water out as needed.

Considering everything, we really could be much worse off. I keep thinking that as I still grumble, and I feel like a complete wimp. This is Bellingham. We have weather like this some years, but it’s not supposed to last *this long*. And I know that to our foremothers who grew up in Minnesota & dealt with freezing, biting cold for *months* on end, this would have been nothing. This would have been downright balmy.

So here I sit, in a blue funk. I fill the water, drag bales of hay through the snow to the animals in the old barn, and fill the water again. The really rewarding part is the welcome with which I am greeted when I bring food & water. It is reassuring, and downright warming to spend time with my beasties, feel their breath & smell the lanolin of their fleece, and to know that they are all well-fed and at peace. I am rewarded with nuzzles & sniffs, and snatches at my hat.


Blogger Leigh said...

Brrr. I don't think anyone hasn't been effected by this cold!

Your post reminds me of when I lived in North Carolina and kept angora rabbits. Winter meant frozen water bottles and so lots of trips to the rabbitry to replace them. I don't have that chore anymore and really do miss it.

Happy Winter Solstice to you and yours!

11:00 AM  
Blogger d2 said...

And here I am with my sore shoveling arm, cranking about the short bit a driveway we have to shovel.

Your beasties love you, Yvonne and so do I.

11:53 AM  
Blogger Tina T-P said...

The best present I ever bought myself was the heater pan that the chicken's water sits on. They never have frozen water (ok, as long as the power doesn't go out) but the sheep and I are really ready to have all the snow go away. Luckily The Shepherd is a maniac with a snow shovel - I've only had to stay home a couple of days.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! T.

11:12 PM  

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