Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Fine Already.

Posted on | November 26, 2012 | 5 Comments

Some of us do not go gentle into that good night.  The winter night.  I, for one, do not appreciate the approach of winter.  I prefer to do the morning milking in my pajamas.  I like sunlight when I wake up and long slow sunsets while still working in the garden.  My wide-enough hips are not thrilled by bulky outerwear.  I do not care for frost on the herbs or on my windshield.  Or the hair-pulling, teeth-gnashing dearth of fresh eggs.

As far as I’m concerned, the only consolation about the upcoming winter solstice is the Hanging of the Greens at our church each year.  It’s an evening candlelight service held the Sunday after Thanksgiving where we decorate the church.  And we sing traditional Christmas carols.  And I am reminded that in embracing the dark nights and freezing temperatures, we are also welcoming Christmas.  Not the Christmas that the stores are welcoming—by playing Christmas music after Halloween and flooding our mailboxes with gift catalogs and opening for shoppers in the middle of the night for sales.  But the real one.

This year I had to bake for the fellowship after the service on my own.  My trained monkeys kids spent Thanksgiving with their Grandaddy and Grammie down east.  I realized this was poor planning on my part when I started baking and discovered half of the fun of holiday baking around here is that there are usually eight extra hands to help out.  So there I was, the Saturday before the Hanging of the Greens.  Having to sort out the brown M&Ms for snowmen by myself.  Eh.

Making reindeer noses on my own.  Sigh.

Opening and unwrapping all the decorative candies for the cupcake Christmas tree.  Jeez.

Cutting 24 tiny carrot noses out of fruit roll-ups. Ugh.

Mashing up the Oreos and cream cheese and rolling the mess into balls with my hands.  Which, of course, was a signal for the phone to ring.  Boo.

Having to eat the leftover cupcake batter in the bowl all alone.  I’m OK with that one.

Even the yellow cake batter.  Because, really, someone had to do it.

Oh, I had some company.  But it wasn’t the kind of company that jumps in and helps out.

By the time the cupcakes were done….

….I was exhausted.  A sympathetic friend had to treat me to lunch at one of our favorite restaurants.

And then let me spend a few hours sitting in her indoor swim spa, with the water heat turned up, sipping wine, and watching episodes of The Mentalist on DVD.

You might have noticed that I have excellent taste in friends.

After driving home as relaxed and limp as a wet noodle, I figured that I was ready for the church service, the fellowship, the return of my monkeys kids, and a grudging acceptance of the dark and the cold of the upcoming winter.

Too bad I woke up to the first freeze of the water lines.  Oh, the new underground water pipes held up fine.  Although Simon stood by willing to keep his fresh water supply intact even if he had to warm the pipe with his own wool.

But I had to break up the ice in the buckets and troughs and force the slushy mess out the drain.

So I didn’t have time to finish the Oreo truffles before picking up the kids from their grandparents.  And the kids stated they had too much homework to do to dip Oreo truffles when they arrived at home.  Homework given over Thanksgiving break.  What a downer.

Good thing that along with my children, Grammie had sent home an entire cooler of Thanksgiving leftovers.  An entire cooler!  Since I didn’t have to make dinner, I had time to dip Oreo truffles.  That Grammie is definitely an upper!  Thank you, Grammie!

Of course as soon as I put the chocolate in the microwave to melt, the power went out.  Inexplicable power outrage.  Downer.

Wood stove to keep the house warm.  And to melt the chocolate.  Upper!

Despite all the difficulties, we finally left for the church service with our completed truffles.

Due to a well pump without power, we hadn’t showered.  But I did manage to get the younger boys, who were singing in the choir, into their dress clothes.  The boys had been against joining the children’s choir.  Until they started practice and began to enjoy it.  But when I broke out the clothes I wanted them to wear for their performance, they remembered why they hadn’t liked the whole idea.  And I had to tackle them and wrestle them into their outfits.  Since the camera runs on batteries and not electricity, I was able to get a great snapshot of them dressed up.  Dressed up enough that you can’t see all the dirty.

We’re not going to discuss what kind of threatening and bribery went on to get that picture.  It kind of ruins it.

The church service was as good as usual.  I sat in the pew, surrounded by my family, the evergreen boughs in the church and all the candles, and sighed.  Fine already.  Bring on the winter.  ‘Cause in the midst of all that darkness and the cold, will finally arrive the Light of the World.  Say what you want about organized religion, but church is good like that.  Pews are great for a change in perspective.

I wasn’t even upset when we got home and discovered the power was still out.  6 hours after it first went out.  Because the wood stove did a fine job of keeping the house warm while we were gone.  I gave a quick thanks for having peed at church before we left (no well pump, no flush toilets).  I tucked my kids into bed.  I stood on the deck for a minute, breathing in the cold night air, and looking at my little barn.  The animals flooded out into the barn yard (they have a supernatural sense of my presence and an everlasting hope for grain) and you could smell hay and manure and wool and all the scents that were in that special barn 2000 years ago.  That’s the Christmas that every farmer understands.  So, welcome winter, welcome Christmas.

Welcome Christmas. Bring your cheer,
Cheer to all Whos, far and near.
Christmas Day is in our grasp
So long as we have hands to grasp.
Christmas Day will always be
Just as long as we have we.
Welcome Christmas while we stand
Heart to heart and hand in hand.

(Dr. Seuss)

Then I went inside and when the power finally came on, I took a long awaited shower.  And once I was wrapped only in towels and ready for bed, The Other Half came up and knocked on the bathroom door.

“Um, I’m pretty sure the wood stove chimney is on fire.  You might want to get dressed before the fire department gets here.”

Awesome.  Who needs the Grinch when we’ve already got Old Man Winter?!


5 Responses to “Fine Already.”

  1. sherry
    November 27th, 2012 @ 4:58 am

    I loved your cup cakes, and the rest of the story was good too.

  2. Anne Kimball
    November 27th, 2012 @ 5:08 am

    Love it.
    That’s all….

  3. Lisa D
    November 27th, 2012 @ 5:56 am

    Wow. You sure do have perseverance. My bottle would have been cracked open before the monkeys returned! Turned into a beautiful post, though. Thanks for the Seuss reference. And whatever happened with the fire department?

  4. Lisa D
    November 27th, 2012 @ 5:56 am

    PS – Eric says you are headed for NPR in the near future as guest commentator 🙂

  5. Jill
    November 27th, 2012 @ 7:32 am

    sweet and yay! for firemen and Other Half(s) who warn us to put our clothes on! Yay Christmas. Boo “carols” before Halloween! Boo junk mail. Yay “Giving Tuesday”! Have a wonderful farmy Christmas. They are the best.

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