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Cold Winter

As winter progresses it is difficult to imagine an end to this weather. A turning point in which one can put spade and shovel in dark brown earth and begin the spring ritual of planting seed.

February gave us 15 days and nights in which we saw temperatures of 0 degrees Fahrenheit or less. One early morning caught my son and I off guard as the temperatures hovered around -20.

It is a time to hibernate of course. This winter that was easy to do as my fourth child, my third daughter was born on February 21st. She is as delicate as the weather and beautiful as her mother and I don't seem to mind the cold so much when I snuggle late at night with her.

In the morning, through dreary eye, I wake with my son and we take care of the rabbits and chickens. I am amazed at how tenacious animals are in this weather. Deep in their burrows of hay the rabbits don't seem to mind that their water bottles are solid ice. The chickens are eager to be let out of their coop regardless of the temperatures outside.

New York state has seen more than its fair share of snow this year. With the cold temps. very little of it has melted. This in turn has allowed the wild rabbits to nibble branches on our apple trees and black berry canes that they normally would not be able to reach. It has been so cold that when I come out at night to lock the coop I walk inches from the wild rabbit and neither of us really makes a move to disturb the other. Hopefully she does not get too comfortable I am not super eager to share my summer crops!

During winter, especially the tail end (I hope) it is also a time to daydream and make future plans. I am hoping to build some outdoor rabbits pens with a friend leading the way. We were originally aiming to raise meat rabbits and now they provide massive amounts of manure for the garden so I am satisfied. My family is seriously considering a pellet stove as well. It seems far more realistic financially than a wood stove at this point and we need help in the old farm house (located in the village) to keep the chill winter winds at bay.

I am eager to extend the gardens. . . .again and to get the outdoor water spout fixed so that I don't have to spend all summer carrying jugs of water from the bathtub to the garden. I would like to look into a good rain-barrel system and get a freezer for our cellar to store seasonal foods from the local farmers markets. It will be interesting to look back in a few months to see how much of this I was able to accomplish.

So as we all wait for old man winter to loose his wind here is to spring and warmer weather!  

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 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 


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