Thanksgiving brought a beautiful snow to our neck of the woods. Eventually the seasonal rains appeared washing away the remaining snow leaving the ground barren and brown. My wife is expecting our fourth child in late February so I have felt a renewed urgency to accomplish as much as possible when the weather allows so that we have a little less to do next spring. So I took the opportunity to gather a wheelbarrow full of stones for our raised beds. I have been making the transition in earnest from wood to rock since last year. It will not decay in my lifetime thus saving some money and there is a part of me that believes it must add something of value in the form of minerals to the soil over the long haul of its existence.
The air was crisp this morning. It would have been comfortable if not for the light but persistent breeze. I could feel the cold gnawing through my work gloves and biting the tip of my nose as I walked down the old dirt path in search of the perfect stones. I could hear the crows in the skeleton branches of the beech, oak and maple. They speak to me on some instinctual level. They tip their hat when bad weather is looming. They sound the alarm when an unfamiliar face wanders close and they even announce my arrival to one another as I appear into the open.
There are easier ways to build raised beds but I enjoy the physical activity of gathering rocks and pushing them up a slight incline back to the gardens. I can see the resulting work as each bed slowly takes shape and I can feel it as well. My legs and shoulders burn a bit and my lungs greedily pull in the cold December air. I feel like I have earned something both physically and spiritually. I realize that may not make sense to some but to those of us connected to the earth by shovel and stone it is a gospel of sorts.
Upon entering the yard with my load a blue jay screeches from a naked sumac tree. Juncos and black-capped chickadee flutter from the feeders and I stumble upon my son peeking at the rabbits and chickens. Needless to say he is hardly dressed for the weather but I suppose that is the resilience of youth.
I check the nesting box with him and gather an egg. We give some hay to the rabbits and then walk the gardens making plans for next years venture. I enjoy our micro-farm. I love these quiet cold mornings where hard work and conversation are king. Night comes far too early for my liking during the long winters but the days are filled with light.
Tobias Whitaker blogs for Mother Earth News and Grit Magazine. Click on the Mother Earth News logo at the bottom of the page for all of his post. You can also find him on Facebook at Seed To Harvest: Bossy Hen Homestead https://www.facebook.com/seedtoharvestbossyhenhomestead/ which is a central location for his homesteading blogs and his homeschooling blog, A Mile In Her Shoes: Tales Of A Stay-At Home Dad found here https://amileinhershoestalesofastayathomedad.wordpress.com/