The Winter That Wasn’t

“Nope, we’re not going to have a winter this year,” the young guy said as he loaded bags of sand into the back of my car. The sand is for my chicken run. I’m sure the guy was just making conversation and had no idea I’d take his comment so personally.

“What?!” I replied, “Winter is soooo coming! It’s only January! Just you wait.”

“Not this year,” he continued. “My PawPaw says we’ll have a mild winter and a hot summer. And my PawPaw knows his weather stuff. He’s old, almost 60.”

Well this young-un sure knows how to get on my nerves! First taking away my hope for winter and then an old age comment.

“Well, I think your PawPaw is wrong,” I said to him, shutting the hatchback. As I got into the car, I added, “Winter is definitely coming. Definitely!” And then I pulled the door closed real quick before he could respond.

I wanted to have the last word on the matter. Yes, perhaps the last word would stick. Like the snow we haven’t had. But which we are definitely, surely going to have. And soon. And lots of it. Tons, really. Sticking to trees and rooftops and roads and the backs of cattle. And I’ll be sipping hot tea by the hot fire, looking out my window at the winter wonderland. And later in the day, my daughter will build a snow person and we’ll tromp around in our snow boots. And then we’ll come in with a bowl full of fluffy fresh snow and make snow cream. Because PawPaw doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Hmmpf.

When I looked up to back the car out of the parking space, the guy was still standing there just shaking his head at me: “No.”

Ugh. He got the last word in after all.

Do you know that I still have my firewood stack from last year? We’ve had maybe a handful of fires. That’s it. 5. Tops.

And we’ve only had one nice snowfall. It stayed for a few days. ‘Twas lovely while it visited.

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But ever since then, it’s been warm. And we’ve had a lot of rain.

I turned over a new leaf the other day. I have decided that I will take whatever comes in the weather department with a smile. I will not complain. If it snows, it snows. If not, I’ll live. It’s fine. Really. And I won’t get involved this year like I usually do. I won’t bring the snow on with my “snow dances” in the meadow. Nope, Whatever.

Why? You might ask. What’s gotten into this winter freak?

I think it was those surgeries I had. I was so cooped up. I’m just happy to be outside and moving around again, I don’t care what the weather is. Rain, snow, sun, whatever. I am so content to breathe IN deeply the fresh air all around me. These days, it is scented with Christmas trees, horse manure, hay, and the damp earth.

You know who loves that this winter has been so mild? The animals who live on my farm. They are having a blast.

I usually show you Mustache Cat because he is such a star, but there are other stars on the farm. This is Hoshi. You probably can’t see his pink nose because he is licking his lips. He has the cutest pink nose ever. And one of his ears looks like a yummy black and white cookie, half black, half white. When we first got him we called him Sgt. Pepper, but the name he was given at the animal shelter, Hoshi, stuck. It just fits him perfectly. Hoshi means “star” in Japanese, which he is. Excellent mouse catcher. Likes to be petted, but not confined to your arms. Hoshi.

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Actually, I have a super cute photo of Mustache Cat and Hey Jude from Christmas morning I should show you while we’re talking about cats.

Santa must have brought that little pool table for the cats. We can’t keep them off of it. Hey Jude plays with the balls and rolls them into the pockets.IMG_1295

All the animals here are enjoying the warm winter. The cats, the dogs, the chickens. I think the cows across the street are as well. And the cattle farmers too. It’s easier to take care of things on the farm when it is 52 degrees instead of 25 degrees.

Yep, 52 degrees means no frozen water in the chicken house. It means I don’t have to get out with my sledge hammer to break up ice on the pond. It means I don’t have to wrap up in three layers to go out and give the horses some hay.

Our 4 horses are really enjoying this weird winter. The pasture is still green; they LOVE that. The don’t have to hunker down to avoid the usual harsh winter winds. They just hang out in the pasture or barn all day and night, munching and relaxing. Easy life.

I’m even thinking about tilling up my garden. How nuts is that? It’s January! Maybe that boy’s PawPaw is right. Maybe winter isn’t coming to us this year.

I am so happy to be the one who goes into the chicken house in the evening again. My husband took care of the chickens for 5 months, so he is pretty happy about me taking back over that job as well. It was definitely not his favorite farm chore!

My big rooster on the roost, surrounded by his ladies.

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I missed hearing the lullaby of the rooster and the replies of the hens. I have always sung them a song in the evening when I lock them in their house. They seemed perfectly delighted to hear my song again. I started doing this when they were baby chicks, as a way to count them every night. You see, I was in the musical “Music Man” in high school, and I remember every word of every song. I sing them the “Goodnight Ladies” with a variation of the words. Every now and again, I’ll add some of the part that goes: “Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little, cheep, cheep, cheep, talk a lot, pick a little more…”

So here’s how my chicken lullaby goes, in case you wondered. It’s pretty awesome and impressive for sure. HAHA! In any event, my chickens like it. For real; they do. Strange, but true.

“Goodnight Ladies (and rooster!), the “and rooster” part is spoken and I do jazz hands to it—

Goodnight Ladies (and rooster!),

Goodnight Ladies (and rooster!),

I’ll see you in the morning.

 

One, two, three, four, five, six,

Seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven.

Twelve, thirteen, fourteen.

14 sweet little birdies.”

I’ve had to change the words as I started with 17 chickens 4 years ago.

Anyway, it sounds stupid, but I’ve missed that, singing to the birds. Watching their eyelids get heavy and blink. Hearing their coos. And finally, their eyes close for the night. And then I begin to hear the scurrying and squeaks of the mice kingdom in the walls.

When I was walking to the barn yesterday, I noticed the Lenten Rose starting to bloom. WOW, that’s early, isn’t it?

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And the fern in the woods hasn’t died down. It is staying green this winter. SO FAR.IMG_3121

I can’t explain to you how much I missed the barn and the horses. There are no words. No. Words. You’d just have to experience it to understand it. The barn is a place of peace and quiet and love. Horses munch hay and come over for pets and kisses while you are shoveling manure. The barn is a place where the outside world is completely outside. I don’t take my phone or put on music. It’s quiet and meditative and restorative.

Almost six months of not being able to work in the barn took its toll on my psyche. Sure, I’d go out there and sit in a chair outside of the barn. I’d inhale the aroma of Merlin’s mane. But it’s not the same as communing with them in the barn, being one of the herd.

And when you have a clown of a horse like my Merlin, the barn is often filled with laughter. How I missed that.

The many faces of Merlin.

 

“Hiya, my wonderful Mom! You’re here!!! Oh, how I love you!”

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What is that I smell? Is it my favorite gingerbread cookies you make for me? YAY! You’re the most awesome-est Mom ever!

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What?? What did you say? You have no cookies?! Why not??

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Blah, Blah, Blah, quit making excuses. I need cookies! I want cookies!

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I am so mad at you right now.

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Some mother you are. (And then he blows a raspberry.)

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And that is My Merlin. He’s animated and personable and silly and yes, a little grumpy. (We’re twins.) I missed him so much. And, yes, I will make him a batch of gingerbread cookies soon.

Now that I think about it, I guess I haven’t given up on winter just yet. Remember the old refrigerator I found in one of the raggedy outbuildings we have? I cleaned it up and brought it inside and decorated it for winter. “Come on weatherman, give us a forecast snowy white…”

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I do love snow. And cold north winds. And sledding down the hill beside our house. And the routine of putting on gloves and hats and bright red wooly thick socks and coveralls to go outside.

I’ll be okay either way. But yeah. I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed after all.

 

Until next time, Friends, savor the flavor of life!

Lots of love, The City Farmgirl in the Country, Rebekah

 

Leave a comment 32 Comments

  1. Carol Denton says:

    Oh my Rebekah, I had no idea you were having such a hard time of it. Six months is an eternity for us outdoorsy people! I’m so glad you are finally up and about! I know I’m six months late for this but here are a couple of blog sites I love that you can glean from in your down time.

    permies.com There are some great forums here.

    granny-miller.com She is a wealth of knowledge and just recently overhauled her webpage after many months of being MIA. She’s quite frank and to the point. And even though her name is Granny, she’s about the same age as PawPaw, lol.

  2. I’m sitting here watching the remnants of what was supposed to be a horrific storm only to turn out to be a minor inconvenience like all of the rest. If we had gotten snow instead of all the solid days in a row of rain that we had last week, there would be 3 feet of snow out there! I’m old enough now that I just take it as it comes and am grateful for another day regardless of what the weather is! Love your post, as usual!

    • Rebekah Teal says:

      your words….take it as it comes and be grateful for another day regardless of what the weather is. YES, THAT!

  3. Denise Ross says:

    Lovely to see you’re up and abut again, Rebekah. Six months! Goodness that would’ve been hard to take fo sure.
    I can understand your craving for winter, the winter you’re supposed to have. After a time of having things hiccup and having to adjust to change, the craving for the way things are supposed to be is even stronger. It makes me feel secure when things are the way they’re supposed to be and sometimes a bit jittery when things don’t go the way they’re supposed to go. Winter, a snowy cold winter would be glorious, though I haven’t had too much experience with your kind. Mine are usually cooler temps, but very mild, no snow, and well who knows whether it will rain here or just Passover out to the ocean or not. I can never figure it out and I’ve been living here 12 years now.
    Fun how the heart longs for things that are comfort and cosy even if it’s easier not to have these things.
    Love your song for your chickens, and your Merlin story and your fridge is gorgeous.
    Loved your post, as always p, really resonated with me.
    Hope you get your snow, even if only a little to warm the cockles of your heart.
    Cheers from down under

    • Rebekah Teal says:

      we’ll get out cyber walking again before you know it. I enjoyed your photos of your life there! until I moved here, I never experienced “real” snow either. it’s been awesome the last few winters, but this one is mild mild mild mild and warm warm warm warm.

  4. Nicole says:

    Sending snow wishes your way. Out west here, in Utah, we have snow. More than normal, so I’m told, I’ve only been here for a few winters. I’m loving it. I’ll take an extra moment and enjoy the wintery white stuff for you. Hugs!

    • Rebekah Teal says:

      thank you, Nicole! I do hear it is a crazy winter. heavy snow out west. no snow out east. but do, make a snow angel for me.

  5. Pam deMarrais says:

    Hey Rebekah! Wow! I didn’t realize that you were in the surgery and healing process for six months! That’s a very long time….which I’m sure you came to realize. Glad that you are back on your feet (literally).
    It’s been eerily mild here in NE Tennessee too. I would gladly trade some of this rain for a little white stuff. I used to live in the snow belt in New Hampshire. The last winter I was there we had 32 snowstorms. Isn’t that crazy? Back then I was praying for warmer temperatures and shorter winters, so here I am. Truth is, though, that you can’t take New England out of the Yankee.
    I will be doing the snow dance soon if this rain keeps up! If you do get snow, please send some my way!

    • Rebekah Teal says:

      yep, tough road. I can ride horses again in April or May, so I’m looking forward to that! 32 snowstorms—dreamy! Dance for snow, My Friend!

  6. marge hofknecht says:

    I love this post. I wasn’t aware that you were under the weather for so long. Yes, winter is a strange one this year. Here in Tennessee we, too, have had lots of rain that would have been an enormous load of snow if the temperature had been lower. January is nearly over and February is just a week away. What will the amethyst month bring us? I enjoy the changing of the seasons and how each one brings forth its expected characteristics as each day passes by. And when the season doesn’t “follow the script”, so to speak, it does make for a little uneasiness but it’s exciting to wait for and then to see what will come next. I’m glad that you are able to be with your little ones again. I’m sure they’re just as happy to see you again in your usual ways. Please don’t forget those cookies for Merlin! I’d love to see him munching down on them.

    • Rebekah Teal says:

      yes, it was brutal to be down for so long. but no more! I enjoyed your comment so much. yes, what WILL the amethyst month bring us?? and Merlin’s cookies are on my to do list.

  7. Krista says:

    I will be sending you many winter snow vibes! We have had so much snow already and it’s still continuing to snow. In past years I feel the same as you, always wanting some beautiful snow. So I’m happy it finally turned around. It has been way fun taking my son outside to experience snow for the first time. He really enjoys it and hates to come in! We also love indulging in nice hot chocolate once we do finally come in. I’m happy to hear your up and moving and finally enjoying some time in the barn and with the chickens. Good luck with the weather and may snow be in your future!

  8. Donna Kozak says:

    Glad to hear you’re up and about again…and I laughed when you said you sang your chickens to sleep at night – I have the morning ritual, letting them out of the coop, and my husband does the evening thing…and he’s always sung “Goodnight, Ladies” to them while he did a head-count !! It just seems the natural thing to do. Love your decorated refrigerator. I love the snow, too, but here in the Pacific Northwest we’ve had it around for much too long and we are not used to it. It’s gone now and snow drops are all around the yard so spring is on the way – yippee !

  9. Diane Van Horn says:

    I think Merlin was really saying “I missed you!” So glad to see you are up and about! In Wisconsin we had plenty of the white stuff but then it turned into rain and ice. Hard to hike in that mess. Today it is snowing and it is beautiful! Sending snowy thoughts your way!

  10. Rene Marie Foust says:

    I am so happy that you are back i action, I have been so worried about you. Im with you I sure would like to have at least one snowfall this year. Say hi to your chickens and your horse the magician. Yay! you are back!

    • Rebekah Teal says:

      Rene, It’s great to be back in action for sure! I hear rumors of snow flurries here this weekend…I’ll take it!

  11. Vivian Monroe says:

    Aww, I love merlin’s faces. Ha. I like to talk to my chickens each morning and evening as well. Father Abraham my rooster though is getting a bit pushy, trying to charge at me for some reason, so gonna have to straighten that out.hmmm. Love the ice box idea. Well, I am in NC too, not as far north as you, but I am hoping the snow is behind us, and maybe we will have an early spring. I want to get out there and clean up my garden spots. We too have had so much rain everything is just mush. So do you put the sand in the chicken run? Is it for them to have a place to take baths? Im afraid mine would turn to mush because when it rains, my run gets so muddy. I put alot of pine straw out in there a couple weeks ago because I was going to be out of town and someone was coming to check on them and feed and water and get eggs, but they have to stay penned up and confined to the house and run when I am gone. So I didnt want them in a muddy mess. I also put out a flock block to keep them busy so they dont get too bored while I am gone, but they sure were glad when I got home and opened that gate. “FREE AT LAST”. :) Thanks for sharing your pics of your farm. Be Blessed. Neta.

    • Rebekah Teal says:

      Neta, my run is the same way. mud. I haven’t found a way to deal with it. the location is at the bottom of a hill and it is somewhat shaded, so doesn’t dry out fast. The sand is for a corner where they take their dust baths. I’ve thought about trying to sand the whole run. If you come up with a way to handle your mud better, let me know! I’m eyeing the garden spots too…

  12. Debbie says:

    Howdy sister!
    I so enjoyed my visit here today. It’s been a little on the warmish side here in New England this winter too. Only one snow storm to speak of and the snow from that is all but gone after the warm rains we’ve had. The 10 day forecast looks pretty uneventful as well. After 16 years here we finally invested in a snowblower. It’s supposed to arrive in a couple of days. Wouldn’t that be a hoot if we never even got a chance to break it in this year? At least we’ll have it on hand just in case. My husband’s “old” by the young man you spoke of in this post. He turns 60 this summer. Time my handsome Yankee had himself a snowblower! Glad to hear you’re up and feeling better and communing with the horses in the barn again. I’d trade that for falling snow, any old day! Keep counting those blessings…They have a way of multiplying when you do! 😉
    Hugs,
    Deb ( Beach Farmgirl)

  13. Marilyn says:

    That horse is gorgeous.
    Marilyn

  14. Joan says:

    I get it totally, we have had snow but not the feets of it as normal. We have had COLD but when I peruse the outside from inside, it looks like I should be out there readying for the grow season, then I notice whites in the air, we now have several inches of snow — the report was for — maybe “flakes”, not complaining though, we need it. Love the pictures of your ‘farm friends’. Do take care. God bless.

  15. Laura says:

    Hi Rebekah!

    Glad to hear you are up and about again! Love your posts and pics!

    I am now recovering from ankle surgery 3 weeks ago. I look at my chickens out the window as others in my family care for them… but the family doesn’t sing or talk to “the girls” like I do. Here in Southern California we have had LOTS of rain and cold (for us)…makes it a little easier to be housebound. I also have a 5 month old Siamese kitten named Koko, who keeps me company and makes me laugh… great for the recovery too!

    • Rebekah Teal says:

      Oh gosh! I feel your pain in every way, Sister! It’s not easy, but you’ll be up and at ’em soon! I’m wishing you a speedy recovery and know you’ll be taking care of those chickens before you know it. No one takes care of our animals the way we do. Koko sounds like great entertainment. I had a Siamese as a child. His name was Jeff. LOVED that cat!
      Thinking of you! Let us know how your recovery goes!

  16. Sandi King says:

    Oh Rebekah, I too miss having the snow. We had one snowfall so far here in my part of northern KY and it lasted a couple of days and was gone. Rain, wind, rain. Much rather have snow deep enough to keep the mud at bay. My chickens like the the colder weather too – and I get to open them up in the mornings, clean the area, collect the eggs etc. My son will lock them up sometimes when I am too busy to get out there. I love my chickens. I don’t have a rooster though but the girls follow me everywhere I go in their fenced in area. I like winter to be winter, spring to be spring, and fall to be fall and summer to be in the 80’s. I am a cool weather person. I loved your blog today and missed you and so glad to have you back. Glad to see Mustache Cat too. It is colder today and windy but our temperatures are supposed to be in the 30’s now instead of the 50′ and 60’s it has been. I hope February will bring us the snow we are hoping for. We need a blast of cold and snowy winter before spring. Take care.

    • Rebekah Teal says:

      Yes, Sandi, all that! We are supposed to get cooler weather here too this weekend. And the old timers are saying SNOW, so we’ll see. I’m like you, I enjoy each season, but prefer seasonal weather. Winter became my favorite when we moved here.
      How many chickens do you have?

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