Tomorrow marks the first official day of winter and the shortest day of the year here on the farm, though the meteorologic winter began weeks ago. I’m ready for the days to lengthen. Being much a creature of natural light cycles, I awake each day around 5 or 5:15 a.m., but don’t want to get up and disturb the household until the sky starts to lighten in the east. By sundown and full on dark, I am ready to snuggle in for the night, trying to stay up and awake with night owl hubby at least until 10 or 10:30 p.m., often to fall asleep in my chair before drifting off to bed.
The month has been a whirlwind with 5 craft markets in 5 weeks that require loading and unloading the set up and product from the car.
This Saturday is the last one for the year with no more until spring.
The month also has included 3 Christmas celebrations, two in costume at Wilderness Road Regional Museum for their music, Christmas treats, and evening lighted tours as I spun on a beautiful old Walking Wheel that with a tiny bit of TLC by me, now works.
I love this photo with the shadow of the wheel on the wall. This one is credited to April the organizer of the events. There will be one more on Old Christmas that I will also attend in costume. The third celebration was with the spinning group to which I belong. I have not been a very good participant of late with everything else going on, but made a point of joining them for that as many folks that don’t get to come regularly come for this event and I enjoy seeing my friends. I hope to get back to the weekly spin days after the holidays.
The month provided another challenge as I bought a dozen winter chicks about 4 1/2 weeks ago. They were fortunately already 2 weeks old and beginning to feather out. The “brooder” I use is a huge 110 gallon flexible plastic stock tank with a heat table for warmth. Not a fan of having the birds in the house, the stock tank is in the garage on a carpet covered platform about 4 inches off the ground. It was cold when we brought them home and ended up adding a 250W red heat lamp and covering half of the top with a mylar sheet to help retain the heat. This was functioning okay until we were threatened with and received more than a foot of snow. Wet snow this time of year often results in loss of power, so the brooder was dragged around the back of the house and into the walk out finished basement where there is a wood stove, before the snow began. The stove was kept going until we were sure the power was not going out, about 3 days.
The snow was beautiful and before it was totally gone, the brooder was loaded onto a sled and dragged back to the garage. By Monday, the littles were 6 weeks old, fully feathered and too big for the stock tank, so the thoroughly cleaned coop was layered with about a foot of straw and they were moved to tough it out without the benefit of supplemental heat. We have had several very cold nights and all is well in the coop. The basement then received a deep cleaning to remove the dust from having the chicks indoors for a week.
I am working on teaching them to use the adult no waste feeder and no waste waterer, while providing the hanging feeder as well. They are beginning to get their adult colorations. By mid week next week they should know that food and water are in the coop and that is where to return when hungry and at night and they will be let out into the run. I fear they are still small enough to get through the holes in the fence though and I don’t like to panic them by trying to catch them but until they will follow me back to the run for treats, they can’t free range.
This view if you have followed the blog for long, often appears. The end of that ridge in the distance drops to a gap to the New River. That view is one of my favorites from the farm and it was just over 13 years ago that we saw this property for the first time in early December. By January, it was ours to plan and build on. If you can love a property in the bleak of winter, you can really love it anytime.
The deck progressed in the past month as well, with a Thanksgiving weekend being spent by son and daughter in law preparing it for the decking, rails, and balusters. Those materials are to be delivered tomorrow and by the first of the year, hopefully, we will be able to safely step out of the French doors of the dining room onto a solid surface, not a one story drop. It is deceptive as the stairs come down on a flat created and held in place by a gorgeous stone retaining wall. The deck itself is one story up from the grade below.
With the prep for Christmas, the various events, cooking for family for Thanksgiving and preparing to cook for Christmas, little knitting or spinning have been done except for two pair of wool socks for a tiny farmer, the toddler son of one of the regular vendors at the market. They have been knit this week after she asked last Saturday. I hope they fit the little guy and can be passed down to his baby brother in another couple of years.
I hope you have a very Merry Christmas or other seasonal holiday of this time of year and a Happy New Year.