Oversleeping a bit, we chugged a cup of coffee and threw on our winter coveralls to head up to the barn. It's less often now that Kim has time to help with livestock chores, and it's always nice when she does on the weekends. I miss her, and though it's not a heavy work load at the moment, it's still lighter with 4 hands- but it's more her company that I crave.
The rabbit water bottles were frozen, so she threw them in a crate to take them down to house to thaw while I hauled feed out to the pigs and dumped the goats old water out. On my walk back across the barn I stopped to feed the laying hens, tossed them more oyster shell and noted the three small eggs for collecting. The long nights make eggs more of a treat then a staple, but I'm pleased that the chicken coop at the new farm keeps the girls so warm they don't need a heat lamp.
The rabbit cages are finally neatly hung in the rear corner of the new barn, threaded with steel pipe to keep them sturdy and hanging from eye hooks in the rafters. It's a nice set up, but we're looking forward to finally building our dream rabbitry come spring, outdoors, with plenty of grazing and hopping space. I spent the week outside trying to sort through the materials, tools, supplies,and junk. The barn will take at least 2 years to get it set up just so, (one full season to make mistakes) but at least now there's space to move around and things are making more sense. Our two goat does (hopefully bred) and the buck clamored for breakfast from the pole barn while June, the only sheep we kept from our old flock, had weaseled her way out of the barn. She was standing directly outside of the big red door and digging through the snow for frozen grass. Apparently, her breakfast had just not come quickly enough.
Today is the solstice. The darkness is here, for many more months, and we're grateful for a few more long nights before the season starts again. But the turning point is something unique- it's simultaneously the start of the winter and the climb towards spring. We're having company today, warming the farm house on both ends with two kitchens filling with friends and baked goods. We're welcoming in the winter with sweets. It's a strange thought, to know that we're on the cusp of the seasonal turn- a literal turning of the strange globe we live on. But what is more comforting then a warm house, good folks and the smell of chocolate?
Seasons are important our rhythm here, we watch the weather and the light. We take the time to notice the shifts, it affects our work and schedule. As the light goes, so do the eggs, and we take our cue from the hens to slow down. The light always comes back, along with the work.
In our celebration today, we've prepared a traditional winter wassail, a mulled cider drink (with wine). There's more than one way to warm a house and your guests. It's currently brewing in the crock pot, a cauldron of cider and spice. Combined with the smell of wood smoke, and two (finally) settling in dogs, the twinkle of Christmas lights, the farm is everything one could hope for to journey through the longest night.