Photo by Kristy Rammel
Snow, cold, wind, chill—all four-letter words. The news today is flooded with stories of record-breaking lows, high winds and severe storms as millions of people woke this morning to face piles of ice and snow. Surely they grunted and grumbled as they donned layers of clothing and headed out into the frozen winter tundra. Yes, Mother Nature is a little pissed off right now!
No one knows Mother Nature’s drastic mood swings quite like the homesteader. In addition to the standard preparations of her impending tantrum, we have a commitment to our furry and feathered companions. Unfortunately, we can’t just bring in Dixie the donkey for the night and let her sleep in the garage. No, homesteader winter preps are a wee bit different than any other—no worse, mind you, just different. Trust me, I’ll take my winter mucking boots over your high heels any day of the week.
These times of conflict with nature test our resolve. When we are outside at 10 p.m. during howling winds and stinging rains because a barn door wasn’t closed properly, we might be tempted to reexamine our way of life. When we are mucking around outside shoveling frozen poo, snot glued across our cheeks, we might want to say “Wow! This kinda sucks!” I know that’s a bit graphic, but that’s the reality of it. There are times that the choice to be a homesteader sucks.
Our determination is further tried as we winterize our crops, equipment and outbuildings. Oh, it would be so much easier to just buy all our vegetables from the grocery store, we think as we slush, slip or slide to the shed to ensure our equipment isn’t frozen. (Wow! Say that three times fast!) Nothing seems quite so arduous and unyielding as spending countless hours wrapping pipes, chopping wood, fixing, patching, layering, shucking, mucking, hauling, towing, pushing, pulling, dragging, blah-blah-blah, for what? Fresh eggs and some garden greens?
But that’s what makes us different. We don’t see this as just some fresh eggs and garden greens. We see the crisp spring nights when we fall asleep to the vocal ensemble of the resident crickets, and the long summer days spent in the garden munching on greens straight from the dirt. We appreciate the difference between the dark rich gold of a farm-fresh egg yolk and the pale, flaxen color of a store-bought egg. We see today’s frozen poo as tomorrow’s fresh compost. And although we might need to be reminded of our commitment as we check water barrels for ice in single-digit temps, we will remain steadfast.
Now, get off your tuchas and get the eggs before they freeze! There’s work to be done. It’s not pretty, it’s probably going to suck, and it’s almost guaranteed to cause your teeth to chatter and your bones to shake, but it’s life. Beautiful, messy, unpredictable, life! One day in the not so distant future, the sun will bathe you in her warmth, the earth will bless you with her bounty, and the life you feed and protect today will return the favor for your family. And then it will be hurricane/tornado/mudslide season—but we’ll worry about that wrath later. Stay warm, dry, safe and dedicated!