Don’t Stop Believin’
We have officially reached the point of winter where I put my hand up to the weather and say, “Stop it. Just stop.” Because, really. ENOUGH already. Show of hands, does anyone out there truly, madly, deeply love the winter? Anyone? Is this thing on?
That’s what I thought.
Oh sure, I get that we’ve got it easy down here in the belly of Texas. But folks here are not bred or raised to tolerate colder climes, as evidenced by the reaction to today’s forecast (32* and drizzle). Before the day even dawned, all the schools were closed, businesses were shuttered, and the radio warned the locals to “Stay off the roads at all costs. Save yourselves!” If you think I’m exaggerating then I urge you to Google “Austin TX cold paranoia.” You’ll see.
I’m not judging any of my fellow Texans, by the way, as I’ve been bundled and scowling since the first “cold front” (50 degrees) hit sometime in November. Although midwestern blood pumps through my veins, I am incapable of joy during the coldest months. I will take sunshine and swelter any day over the runny-nose inducing chill that we’ve had in our much, much longer-than-usual winter. It’s because of these temperatures that I am most grateful for one decision made this fall related to animal husbandry – and it’s an important one to share with anyone else deeply afflicted by the winter miseries:
Breed animals according to what time of year you would most like to sleep in a pasture.
My first (and only, remember, I’m a definite novice) experiences with animal birthing happened in mid-January. Although it was a milder winter, I still spent many nights leaning against trees in the woods at 3am with a goat’s head in my lap. I then nursed a very ill, post-surgery animal and her babies in a barn during ice storms. It was, in a word, unpleasant. Because of this, I carefully considered when I would be most mentally and physically capable of enduring late nights outside with a genuine grin (grin, not grimace) on my face. I landed on March. And I nearly achieved my goal until discovering that a neighbor’s (non-dairy) buck stealthily snuck into our pasture on a day that Jolene was in heat. After pulling my hair and yelling for a solid two minutes, I calculated a due date at the end of February for Miss Jolene who had an affair with a goat from the wrong side of the
tracks fence. It’s not March, but it’s close enough.
Although I’m already biting my nails with worry over the beginning of a new season, the thought of so much activity and life helps push me through these last few weeks of winter. That and the extreme dairy drought we are suffering here. Because, once you go fresh raw milk, you just can’t go back. Surprisingly, I’m also missing the structure and routine that accompanies daily milking, something I considered over at Broadway + Thresher recently.
So, friends, homesteaders, and country men/women – remember that there is a light at the end of this ice-encased tunnel. Blare a little Journey if you need to, warm your toes by a fire, take a shot of bourbon (like, for medicinal purposes. Sort of), and remember that this too shall pass. Soon we will be pulling weeds from gardens, bottle feeding baby animals all night long, and sweating through our wellies. I just can’t wait.