Joyful Yule to all! This shortest day of the year finds the farm tucked into an 8″ blanket of snow. The temperatures struggle to the 20sF during the day and dip toward zero at night. This morning the sun favors us with a watery, weak glow, halfway to its zenith at 8:30 am. The light has a yellowish cast due to the angle.
We modern humans understand how the tilt of the Earth determines the seasons, unlike our poor ancestors who huddled in fear through the dark and cold. What if the sun just kept fading and didn’t return? No wonder sacrificial rites were performed during the depths of night and celebration ensued when the daylight lengthened. Today we know spring will return and our fear is more of how warm the world is becoming.
The last couple weeks haven’t felt too warm! Chickens snuggle on the roosts, sharing body heat, and don’t lay eggs when it is so chilly. The horses are wrapped in thick winter coats. They stand in patient reverie awaiting the next feeding as icicles form on their long whiskers. Angora rabbits are made for cold weather. Six inches of angora fiber is just the thing to keep a bunny toasty. The dogs delight in snow. They would spend hours romping in it if we let them. The cats pine for their outdoor cage, which must come down in the winter or be destroyed by snow. They content themselves sitting in the windows and chattering at the multitude of wild birds flocking to the feeders.
The feral pheasant may still be around. Last week he came into the barn twice to eat scratch grain I left out for him. Then we got a brutal storm with snow, wind and cruel freezing rain overnight. The pheasant has not been seen since. The scratch grain was still disappearing so I figured the bird was coming in to eat. Then I surprised four bold mourning doves who flew right into the barn to take the offerings. I moved the scratch into the lower barn where I know the pheasant will look, but the doves won’t dare to venture. Yesterday the pile of grain was depleted and I thought there were some larger bird footprints in the dust. So, perhaps the pheasant still holds his own. I’m rooting for him.
Now there is little for us to do but turn our heads from the wind as we trudge through winter chores, sit by the woodstove and let the heat work into the bones, finally read that book we’ve wanted to get to, catch up on inside work, nap. And wait for spring.