In yesterday’s growing dusk, as I pushed another loaded wheelbarrow of soppy chickeny mud through Babe’s field to the manure pile behind the barn, I bid a fond farewell to dear November, one of my favourite months.
Most of the leaves are off the trees now, and I have piles tucked away to be portioned out over the next few weeks, spread across muddy pens and sprinkled in coops to amuse my feathery tenants. Every couple of days, I give the slow-drying hoard a good toss with an American Gothic long-handled pitchfork, my hands-down favourite hand tool, happily discovered (for six bucks!) at our local “Re-store” used building supply.
They say it’s going to be a warm winter this year on the wet coast; we may not see any snow at all. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m kind of relieved. I do love the snow, my family rolls their eyes each year at my jubilance when the first flakes fall, but honestly, after the past couple years of climate change drama; the unusually long cold stretches, a foot of snow at a time and worst of all, frozen water lines, I’m ready for a milder time of it this winter. Will I escape this year? Avoid hauling buckets and buckets of water out to the barnyard, defrosting waterers and slipping around solid sheets of ice as I tend my flock? It seems promising.
We had decided, due to recent weather patterns, to insulate the water lines this past summer, but it didn’t happen. There are only so many hours in a day, and they got spent on higher priorities. Such is life. Perhaps though, the weather gods are smiling on us, granting a reprieve from the chill and thus another chance to deal with those lines. I resolve we won’t be like the old man with the leaky roof, who complains when the rain drips onto his bed, but sees no reason at all to climb up and fix his roof in the sunshine because the problem has vanished! Surely we will find the time over the next 365 days to get those water lines taken care of. I have high hopes.
For now, my priority is mud control, and each evening has me outside, in my new boots and trusty headlamp, filling a barrow or two, scraping down a roof here and a perch there, clearing out a drainage ditch here and a gutter there. Respecting the rain, giving it somewhere to go. Accomplishing a little each day, with the goal of keeping my birds comfortable.
And, of course, as I toil I’m thinking about the season ahead. Today marks the start of my annual tumble down December’s steep, steep hill. The month that starts out with my birthday and then, after that minor shock (I’m HOW OLD!?!), accelerates the closer I get to the bottom. Wish me luck as I work hard to stay upright and in control, my feet well under me and motoring along, getting it all done on the hectic lead-up to our annual celebration of light, and warmth, and family.