I love winter weather, so I am thrilled with the current, and potential, conditions we are experiencing this week. It’s been too long since we’ve had a real winter. For me, there is no more depressing winter weather than 50 degrees and rain. It might as well be June.
So I am rejoicing with this winter weather. However, for those of you who are not rejoicing, you must understand that a.) I don’t have to go anywhere if I don’t want to, and b.) there is nothing berry farmers HAVE to do outside right now – even the pruning and tying can wait. I am free to stay warm inside, with my cup of coffee, and enjoy the beauty through the window.
I’m a lucky girl, I know it.
But, I have to admit that winter weather would not be as fun for me if I did not have the goat chores to force me outside twice daily. It gives me great satisfaction to make sure they are warm, and well-fed, and the water is warm enough to drink. I love closing up the barn at night so they can stay cozy inside. I have the great good fortune of living out a very romanticized version of farm chores.
My romanticized picture of winter chores dates back to the winter of ’68-’69, a legendary season of weeks of missed school, blizzard after blizzard creating walls of snow along the roads, milk trucks stuck on farms and roads, everyone sleeping in the living room because the bedrooms were too cold…It was the Queen of All Winters!
And I was a kid, so it was all a big adventure!
One of my best farming memories was the day in that stretch of winter when Dad needed help in the barn, which was located a good walk from our house. Mom couldn’t go because my youngest sister was just a baby, so Dad entrusted me to brave the elements and be his helper. We bundled up, and filled a back pack with things we might need while we were out there, and trudged over the big drifts to the barn. In the barn, sheltered from the wind, was refuge, warmed by the feeding cows and the insulation of hay, shavings, and the drifts around the walls outside.
We did some cleaning and feeding, and I suppose I helped tend calves. I don’t remember the actual chores very well. I’m sure it was a big hassle for my dad, and a time of stress – but for me it was so satisfying to be a contributor, to be entrusted with sharing the difficulties of the day with my dad, to be his helper.
And to this day, I carry that sweet memory which comes so close again every time the weather is wintry. To a larger extent, the way our family functioned together during that stormy trial is the background of that good memory…moving mattresses to sleep on the living room floor; keeping the oil burner hot enough to beat back the cold creeping into every corner; Mom keeping us fed when you weren’t sure you could get to town for more supplies; putting Vaseline on baby sister’s chapped little face; wondering where Dad was when he was digging out a milk truck right in front of the house, obscured by the blizzard… I really had no idea of the uncertainty the circumstances brought. I was secure in the belief that my parents could handle all of it, and that we would be fine together.
I know. Being a grown-up changes your view and experience of winter challenges, but I am holding on to my emotional attachment to winter as long as I can. I plan to make the most of it whenever it comes. I’m sorry for those for whom winter weather means inconvenience and stress and even suffering. I don’t discount your challenges, and you have my sympathy. (I’m talking to you, dairy farmers!) But for me, winter is the most wonderful time of the year!!