Photo by Kristy Rammel
As I attempt to drift off to sleep, my mind is reviewing my day’s to-do list, working on tomorrow’s list and remembering all the things I forgot. It seems like hours before my body’s exhaustion finally transcends my mind and rest begins. Yet in the midst of my winter slumber, I am awoken by the crows of an insolent rooster. My eyes strain to make out the blurry numbers on my alarm clock. 5 … no, S? What? 2—2:25! “Stupid rooster,” I mumble as I attempt to return to dreamland. Milk! I can’t forget milk at the store tomorrow. And so my list begins again.
Now, please understand, normally a rooster making a racket at such an unreasonable hour would cause concern, for my crew anyway. And it did—the first several nights, that is. Actually, the first three nights, you would have seen my husband and me outside in our PJs, muck boots and coats, armed with flashlights and a shotgun. On two prior occasions, this premature alarm signaled danger in the chicken yard and consequently saved all of its inhabitants. However, because the flock has been going to bed so early, this particular rooster feels 2:30 a.m. is a great time to get up and going. Stupid rooster!
It was in the midst of my nocturnal list making that I began to think about my January homestead list. January is half over all ready—can you believe it? It’s hard to envision spring planting when you’re wearing four layers of clothing, but she’s a comin’. Not to mention, if you sell bunnies around Easter like we do, breeding time is rapidly approaching. Is everybody healthy and happy and ready for their upcoming cavort? Are the nesting boxes clean? Do I need any more waters? Feeders? Do I have enough cream cheese for tomorrow’s dessert? (Yes, this is where my mind goes at 2:30 in the morning!)
Because I tend to forget at least half the things I’m supposed to do on any given day, I’ve become a calendar person. I put everything on the calendar. Yes, everything! But with four kids, one husband and a young growing homestead, a single calendar has become too cluttered for my ADD mind. My brain just cannot grasp the action to “breed bunnies” on the same day as “PTA meeting.” Something is just wrong with that picture! So, I have a calendar just for my little homestead and it hangs proudly next to my large family one.
In addition to parent meetings and pre-romp preparations, January also brings about garden planning, seed ordering and even starting a few plants indoors. (Black dirt! Oh, how my fingers have missed you!)
This is also a prime time to take stock of your little farm hands’ supplies. Any tools of the trade they did not receive at Christmas, or needing to be replaced or repaired, can be purchased, sorted, cleaned and mended now. It’s amazing, but in the 18 years I’ve been a mother, I have never actually seen my children walk around the yard with a tool box and nonchalantly scatter its contents as though it were pixy dust, yet I pull back the frozen mud, snow, ice or straw to find a great surprise. A left glove, perhaps? An army dude? Hot Wheels car, flat-head screwdriver, snippers, clippers or cutters? Oh, what a treat every spring to see our pre-sowing harvest.
I do not toss the left glove I find “growing” under the winter terrain. I simply wash it and stash it away with all the other loners. When pulling out thorny weeds and prickly bushes it will not matter if your little one is sporting a red glove on one hand and a Spongebob glove on the other. It will only matter that you, their caretaker, their protector from the pricklies, was prepared. So get their tools lubed, tightened and washed, and hide them until they’re needed. Heroes don’t always wear capes; sometimes they wear aprons and muck boots.
Another January day has come and gone, and once again, I find myself making and checking my many lists. Typically all my greatest ideas come to me just as I slip from this realm to the land of sleep, but alas, they always seem to evade me when the sun returns. (Sigh.) But on this night, my grocery list, my to-do lists and my “forgot-to-do” list is far from thought and mind. On this night, my thoughts are on the recipes I keep stored in my brain, and as my eyes close I try to decide roast chicken or chicken and dumplings. Maybe I will decide in the morning after I get a full, uninterrupted, night of sleep!