Animals, Farming, Pets and Livestock, Rural Living

Winter On My Farm

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.–Robert Frost

A lovely little poem.  Although most of the time, I must confess, I feel more like ‘Greasy Joan’ keeling the pot:

WHEN icicles hang by the wall,
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When blood is nipp’d and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
Tu-whit, a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

WHEN all aloud the wind doth blow,
And coughing drowns the parson’s saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marian’s nose looks red and raw,
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
Tu-whit, a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.–William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost

And then there are the four opening lines of Keats’ Eve of St. Agnes which evoke the English winters of my childhood with more immediacy than any other:

ST. AGNES’ Eve—Ah, bitter chill it was!
The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
The hare limp’d trembling through the frozen grass,
And silent was the flock in woolly fold.

That’s winter, to me.

Sunset on the farm, February 2, 2021.  As the farmers used to say in England when I was a child, “red sky at night, shepherd’s delight.”  (That’s one of many old-wives tales that have a solid backing in “the science,” particularly when its wisdom is applied to the northern hemisphere, in which the weather generally travels from West to East):


This shepherd is quite delighted at the moment, as there are two new occupants of the barn and (so far at least) neither of them seems headed for the Pack ‘n Play in the house.  You go, Sheep Moms!

(The problem that arises when, out of necessity, you bottle-feed the lambs and raise them in your living room** is that they never quite lose the sense of entitlement and privilege bestowed upon them, and they’re always trying to get back in):


Getting to the barn when I heard them in there this morning was a bit of a challenge–there are steps somewhere under all this snow . . .

(Note well that this percipient shepherd, when the snow started three days ago, penned all the sheep up in the barn, ‘just in case.’  Sooner or later, a person realizes that 1) ewes (female sheep) are genetically programmed to have their lambs on the absolute worst day of the year, and that 2) they cannot conceive (see what I did there) of a better place to deliver said lambs than in the middle of the icy creek at the bottom of the field.  Even better if the lamb gets stuck and Mom needs help completing the task.  Delightful.  It only takes a time or two of the back-breaking business of dragging a 150lb ewe in some distress several hundred feet up a steep hill on a tarpaulin in sub-freezing temperatures with snow or ice on the ground and falling from the sky, before one wises up.)

The road’s still a bit “iffy” in places. I’d probably make it up in the new car; never in my beloved Cube.  Good thing I’m  provisioned for the duration and there’s no need to go anywhere:

And here’s an odd little snow and ice formation which developed when the snow slid off the roof.  I’ve never seen anything quite like it:

The dogs like nothing more than a traipse round the field.  This is the sort of weather they were made for:

And “Chinggis,” the rooster has found his voice (I love that I have a chicken named Chinggis.  Something of a family joke.  I expect you had to be there to appreciate it.  Or maybe not.) The story of how Chinggis came to live with me can be found here:

Thank God I’m a country girl.

I love this time of year.


**To those of you who think that I raise the orphaned or rejected lambs in a Pack ‘n Play in my living room out of a misplaced sense of anthropomorphic sentiment, I’ll just say that if you’d ever had to get up every two or three hours, night after night, get the bottles ready, put on all your winter gear, and traipse down into the barn in sub-freezing (and sometimes sub-zero Fahrenheit) temperatures, you’d seriously think about putting the little wretches darling creatures in your living room too. 

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