The White Stuff

White. It is the color of purity and innocence. Most say it isn’t a color, rather it is the combination of all colors. For our purposes, white is a color that compliments and opposes all other colors at the same time. It is clean and bright, and it brings to mind (at least for Farmgirls!) an image of crisp, beautiful linens flapping softly in a summers breeze. However, as the weather reports have shown us over the last few weeks, white takes on a whole new meaning in the winter months.

A farm in Norway, ca. 1910

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  1. Mary Rauch says:

    Sure did enjoy your whole article, The White Stuff! You know, I really never thought too much about the meat/dairy association. As I grew up, I was encouraged to drink almost a quart of (unprocessed)milk a day. As I aged I became so allergic (or food sensitive) to it that now my breathing is impaired if I consume ANY dairy. Sure hope all that early-child milk drinking did the trick. I really don’t believe that calcium supplements do much, do you?

  2. TJ says:

    We live in Montana, and while we’re in town and do NOT have a cow, we *love* raw milk when we can get it! But even the far-inferior storebought stuff makes darn good SNOW ICE CREAM! 🙂 My kids adore it – I just made some this morning with a bowl of fresh, fluffy white snow from the back porch. Add vanilla, sugar and milk and stir it up – hard to beat a snowy ice cream treat!

  3. Jan says:

    Wow, what a coincidence! I just researched about how to make paneer. As you might know, it is a cheese product made in India. Basically boiled milk and lemon juice and the magic separation creates a lovely soft cheese. And THEN you can use it in many lovely dishes. A recipe for naan led me to the paneer! Must make both…

    Thank you for the idea of making your own sweetened condensed milk. It is refreshing to hear you speak of dairy products with such a positive vibe!

  4. Bettina says:

    Thank you so very much for your wonderful perspective on living close to the land with all its gifts. Even in the "white heart of winter", your words brighten my day and launch me on a journey to try out some new recipes with milk! In our family, my grandmother loved her little jersey brown cow as much as her own children. When you see it in the perspective of what a cow meant to a family during the great depression years, she meant health and food and obviously a lot of comfort to the woman who loved her. In my own journey to return to the land and finding my own center of self, your footsteps are easy for me to follow, especially, in the white snowfall of winter!
    till next time, all the best wishes flying up your way like a springtime vee of geese.
    B. 🙂

  5. Nancy says:

    Here in Maine we get a lot of snow, and can appreciate it….until about March, then we are wishing for Spring! However, we do like to take advantage of all of Winter’s offerings, and are always looking for more! Great post…really enjoyed it!

  6. Amanda says:

    My husband and I both grew up on dairy farms so raw milk was an everyday thing that we didn’t give much thought to. When we got married, moved off our family’s farms and had to buy "store" milk, we realized what we were missing. Now, we’re back on a dairy farm and enjoying REAL milk again! My girls won’t drink anything but raw milk. A few weeks ago it was in the single digits here and when my girls and I went into the heifer barn to feed, we loved the frost on the windows, the soft glow of the barn lights, and just how content the heifers were as they quietly munched their hay. That is a stillness I will never forget. Tonight there is another kind of quiet stillness outside as the noreaster passes just to the east, the worst missing us(I’m in PA Dutch Country). I’ll be up late tonight staring out my window enjoying the beauty of the snow before it gets tracked up by the dog, the kids and the sleds!! Thanks for the idea for sweetened condensed milk, gotta try that!

  7. Pingback: The White Stuff, Revisited | Farmgirl Bloggers

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Gaining Traction

Farmgirls, I have a confession for you: My holiday season up until about yesterday wasn’t all that great. I tried, really, to see the best in everything and be full of holiday cheer. There were definitely very good times had by myself, my loved ones and some great friends, but overall, I was kind of down in the dumps. I even tried a faux Happy New Year resolution excitement in my last post on New Year’s resolutions; and you know what? I’ve already failed at most of those! Have I done yoga once in 2013? No! I did call a good friend; but I called my grandmother and she didn’t answer, when she called back I didn’t answer and haven’t called her back. I guess I have been a bit more organized. But overall, I’ve been somewhere between apathetic and discouraged.

There are many, many facets that played into this state of mind. Most notably I really miss my family. Another one is ice. It gets to me. I’m afraid of it at times and in total awe at others. We have been living in an increasingly icy world here in Palmer since before Christmas, so I’ve had a lot of time to ponder ice and its role in my life. Luckily, I’m gaining traction, both physically and mentally.

Moki gets a break from the ice in this snow at higher elevations.

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  1. Diana Henretty says:

    Good Morning from the Ozarks,
    How well I know the feeling of "ice" everywhere!
    In 2007, we had a huge ice storm here in the Ozarks that caused our electricity to be out for 13 days.
    We were not ready for the isolated feeling, the sounds of the trees crashing around us in the woods, and the dreaded lonely feeling when the sun set.
    For a long time after that winter, I dreaded the sound of ice rain tinkling outside.
    We have learned to prepare all year though so there are no surprises.
    We keep solar batteries charged, we keep our little "ice storm pantry" filled with everything imaginable, and that seems to help.
    We found out that when we get iced and snowed in, taking our sled to town for forgotten items is a way to combat cabin fever, going to thrift stores thru the year and buying books and crafts helps keep our spirits up, and reaching out to others in our little town who might be needing firewood or
    emergency items helps too.
    That was the worst ice storm in 84 yrs. we were told by an elderly friend,
    but it taught us so many lessons in life, sharing with others, and being prepared.
    Fight the fear of winter with fortitude my dear, and remember, after a long winter, comes the beauty of spring! ~Hugs from Diana in the Ozarks!


    What an incredible story–13 days without electricity!  It sounds like you came out on top with new experiences and skills to share with others. I have an inkling feeling I’ll turn out the same :).  Thank you for your words of encouragement!

  2. MaryJane says:

    When I lived remotely, winter cold and ice had a way of getting to you, bone deep. Outside chores made it better (fresh air) but they also made it worse. This I do know, someday you’ll value the memories.

    I’ve been fishing on frozen lakes in Minnesota. Everyone drove their cars onto the ice, but having never done that before, I was nervous the entire time. I’m so very sorry to hear about your loss. Losing a sibling in such a way must have been horrible. Heartbreaking to this day I’m sure. Hugs.


    Thanks for your kind words Mary Jane!  You are absolutely right about outdoor chores making it better and worse.  It is a blessing to be forced to go outside at least a few times per day.  The animals are definitely happy to see me, too. And hey, my ice-stabilization muscles are getting a workout.  Evan and I were close in age and demeanor, it was and is hard, but I wouldn’t be who I am today without his presence and absence…Hugs to you, too!

  3. Adrienne says:

    My heart goes out to you, sweets, especially at this time of year. Many friends have SAD (Seasonable Affective Disorder) due to death or other traumatic experiences during the holidays. Life is not easy under the best of circumstances and it helps to remember the warm, pleasant events when the snow, rain and ice permeate your world. I’m holding you in my thoughts and wishing you a better new year.


    Thank you Adrienne!  I have friends and family with SAD, too.  I don’t think I totally fit the bill, as you are supposed to feel it for two years in a row…but it is a likely possibility.  I think this year will be just fine, hopefully the hard times were just packed in to the first few weeks…Thanks for your thoughts, Best, Alex

  4. Kat Oliver says:

    Thanks for taking time to share your thoughts during a tough time for you. Winter is one of those seasons that provide challenging and profound moments. I too deal with a few demons and lovely chores raising sheep, goats, rabbits and chickens. We have gotten 4 straight days of rain and expecting snow at any moment. I spent the last hour moving animals around, feeding them. I am soaked and it did not help that I too fell trying to move a ram. But I like the fact I own my farm, work for myself, make my schedule and don’t have to dress nicely everyday. And I would rather have animals for co-workers. Enjoy the rest of your winter.

  5. Sandy says:

    You are missing the Brainerd Ice Fishing contest on Saturday! The ice is at least 16 inches thick. The temp should be about 15 with a 40 mile an hour wind. See what you are missing?

    About this time of the year I miss green vegetation. Anything. A few years ago we went to Maui in February and I absolutely drank in the green and the flowers. Absorbed it. Felt much better when we got back to Minnesota! SAD is a definite possibility.

  6. Laura says:

    Hi Alex,
    I was moved by your story. Deeply, as winter implies. Touching something inside, profound, true, soulful. Like the beauty found under the ice.
    Thanks for sharing your winter challenges, and being brave and adventurous in the face of them.

  7. Denise says:

    My heart goes out to you…I think the other ladies have said it all, hang in there, life will get better continue to find the joy in the little moments love and hugs xxx

  8. Susabelle says:

    Hello from sub-zero Colorado. This is only my second winter here, so I’m still figuring out what winter is like just east of the Rockies. I am originally from Missouri, and I know ice storms well. You need some Yak Trax to give you better grip on snow. 🙂

    I have, unfortunately, had my own trouble with the winter precipitation. Three weeks ago I went up to Rocky Mountain National Park to sight-see, and fell in a small patch of snow along a road. I broke my ankle in three places (two fibula, 1 tibula) and dislocated it to boot. I have plates and screws and a hot pink cast and no walking for six weeks. What am I saying? PLEASE BE CAREFUL and get some Yak Trax.

    Winter landscapes are, to me, just as beautiful as winter, even though it is mostly black and white and grey. I can find beauty in all seasons, and I rejoice in all seasons.

  9. Lilyrose says:

    I am sorry to hear of your loss. You have a beautiful and lasting memory of him. You, right now, are living and vibrantly alive in one of your most important times in your life. You have the right attitude and gumption to pick yourself up when you stumble, slip, slide and fall.

    Go ahead and make that time to call or hand write your loved ones, and be with them as often as you can. It is and will be the most important thing you can do in your life. As for the beauty, awesomeness and fierceness of ice there is much respect to be had when facing God’s creation.

    (I’m not so sure you are aware of it or not, but popular as Yoga may be for physical health, it is still a religion. The movements have meaning, there is worship of a god, and it promotes a certain way of living your life. I, for one, am glad you have been lazy with it. Stick to that wonderful, rugged, outdoor life you are blessed with. It’s a workout.)


    Thanks for your thoughtful words, Lilyrose.  You are right, ice demands much respect.  I have been practicing a semi-yogic lifestyle for several years now.  It isn’t a religion, it is a lifestyle. There are gods respresented in asanas, you’re right. But, at least to me, these gods aren’t spiritual gods in the same way that the Christian, Hindu, Wiccan gods or goddesses.  Instead they are representations of different aspects of our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual selves. Some religions, like Hinduism and Buddhism, have branches that include yoga as a part of their practice.  I still love my outdoor lifestyle though too–there’s nothing better than doing yoga high on a mountain!

  10. Oh, wish I could reach through the screen and send you a big ol’ hug! And I’m so sorry you lost your brother!

    As for the ice, having moved from Texas where right now it is in the seventies and eighties, to Connecticut where it is cold, grey, and icy much of the winter until Spring, I understand how you feel, especially the part about missing family. What I like to do is find things I enjoy indoors (knitting, baking), turn on some great music, light up all the lamps, and focus on happy things. I also find fun things to do outside like ice skating or even sledding! Some days you just need to find some fun!

    Alaska looks really beautiful, and my daughter and I really enjoyed seeing all of your animal friends. Big hugs, your blogging sis, Nicole (Suburban Farmgirl)

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Well, Farmgirls, we’ve done it, we’ve turned another page in history and now have a nearly blank page to fill with the trials and tribulations of 2013. What stories will top our bank of memories at the end of the year? Will the great and beautiful outweigh the hard and sad? Will our adventures outnumber moments of inertia? I have a feeling this year is going to be great! Maybe thats just because of my unorthodox attraction to the number thirteen, though…

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  1. Laura says:

    resolved to eat more greens, and yes, do more yoga, and take more walks outside 😉

  2. Annie says:

    I really look forward to reading your posts this year! I have never been to Alaska, but always wanted to go and am excited to hear more about it from you. You sound like a really cool Farm Girl!

  3. I think that messy people are the most creative so don’t stress to much!

  4. Karen says:

    Do the Best I can…for Me and others…Happy New Year Ahead…

  5. Debbie says:

    Hi Alex,
    I’ve decided to keep my ears held close to my heart so I don’t miss out the direction I am supposed to be going in…!
    I also started walking just before Christmas and as soon as I get over this blasted flu I’ll be bundling up at 5:30 am to meet my walking pal at the end of my driveway for a new year of exercising more regularly! I do think winter time makes us all feel a bit yo-yo ish as far as inertia setting in… after all we are supposed to be resting up for a busy spring! Good luck with your resolutions and your lists! Can’t hurt!
    Deb ( your farmgirl sis at the beach )

  6. sharon says:

    I resolved to develop better sleep patterns, move more, and leave a job that has left me feeling toxic and unhappy. I gave my notice this week and am taking a leap of faith. No matter how bad the economy is, if I’m willing to work, there’s no reason I can’t find a job.

  7. Sandra says:

    I still would like to read my way through the Classics…that is an ongoing resolution. Would LOVE to have Buff Orpington chickens…still trying to talk Hubby into this one!


    I love these resolutions! As an English Major, I have a special spot in my heart (and library) for the Classics.  Maybe you can make some kind of deal the the Hubby about the chix?  You can let him read the Classics and report back to you, and you can get chickens.

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