Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bracing up...

We've had some pretty nice days for mid-November -- all of them used to the fullest to brace up for the coming cold days.   The propane man came to fill our tanks, the water tank heaters have been turned on for livestock, calves have been weaned, and the granaries have been filled with corn for winter feeding.  I have also been finishing chores that I needed to get done before the big chill arrived.

Yesterday, a beautiful 50 degree day, I pulled up the last of the carrots from the veggie patch.  I always try to leave them in the ground for as long as possible because they just seem to keep better in the soil than they do anywhere else.  Just a few days ago, I pulled up a two gallon bucket and yesterday another two gallon bucket was filled.  Needless to say, the two of us don't need four gallons of carrots so I've been sharing my organic treats.  They sure are sweet and crisp!

Today my folks came out to help butcher a few chickens.  The coop is now a quiet and peaceful place without the four roosters. We weeded out some of the non-laying, old hens too.  The folks took a bag full of fresh chickens with them before they went home, and eggs too --  the beginning and the end.  We didn't have chicken for supper tonight.  It's hard to eat chicken after spending the afternoon killing and cleaning them.  'Nuff said.

As the day progressed, the big chill came in.  As I type tonight, we've sunk down to 12 degrees, and the wind has whipped up to make the windchill about -9* according to my windchill table.  We're expecting a little snow to blow in tonight too.  Thankfully, everything's buttoned up for winter for the most part.

It always amazes me how quickly we brace ourselves up for the cold.  Frosty mornings force us back into the winter coats, the heavy socks, boots, gloves, caps and neck scarves -- all in full service now.  It seems we don't miss a beat adding them to the daily dressing routine now that it's cold outdoors.  We just do it.  It seems natural.  We don't even have to look for those things in the closet because they are always at the ready when you live up north.  We know it can turn from bikini weather to parka weather overnight, and that's no kidding.  All summer long the winter coat stays on the peg right next to the light sweatshirt, and gloves have a permanent place in the pockets of that winter coat 'cause you never know when you're going to need them.

The weaned calves look great.  They've got a good, thick, curly coat of hair on them, and the mother cows are fat and ready to go through the winter.  The sheep are heavy with wool.  The migrant birds are all gone, but the chickadees have arrived and spend time at the feeders along with the wood peckers and nuthatches.  The American Goldfinches have changed from their summer golden tuxedos to their winter gray tweeds.  I noticed a jackrabbit in the pasture has turned it's coat from gray-brown to winter white.  The green world has gone to sleep, the hoar frost has coated bare trees, and thankfully, winter friends remain.  Everything, every creature, and every human here has braced up. 

“October extinguished itself in a rush of howling winds and driving rain and November arrived, cold as frozen iron, with hard frosts every morning and icy drafts that bit at exposed hands and faces.” 
~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix


  1. Oh Jody. There is so much work to be done when you live in the country isn't there. But it's a good life. We don't have a working place but we work (just not as hard as you do). I still have leaves to rake and it's supposed to snow tonight. I wish I had some of those carrots. Make some carrot cookies for me, won't you.

  2. You ARE ready for the cold, Jody! I always love your winter posts, so cozy.

  3. I tell you one thing, dressing those children for winter still does not feel natural to me. You know? Oh my.

    Ah, things look great in your part of the world. There is something about hunkering down in a good storm, I just love it. I love to see the wind howling around the windows and be cozy on the inside.

    And, your beef stew was a great hit! Thank you very much! Friday will be another big day - but tomorrow I can prepare. :)

    Oh, on a last note, what IS the best way to keep carrots through the winter? I seem to have the darndest time.

  4. I guess we are the opposite -- here you never quite put away your summer clothes. I love reading your posts. I'm left with admiration at all of your good skills:)

  5. Lovely post. It sounds fantastic to my ears. I can imagine it all in my mind. Real winter. I loved your quote too.
    I have wanted to live on the prairie since I first read Laura Ingalls Wilder. I have always thought it would be incredible to see all that you describe. Stay warm. I wish I could kill my last two roosters. They need to become fryers. I don't think I could eat chicken after butchering day either.
    Have a lovely day.

  6. Well, I was excited to hear that you had 50 degrees and I checked our forecast thinking it would move this way, but no such luck -- our days will stay with highs in the 40s or lower through next week. Darn it -- we'll be cleaning up the last of the leaves in the cold. It sounds like you're all ready for winter though -- Bring on Thanksgiving!!!

  7. yum...carrots look delicious!....I don't know about 12 degree weather though...sounds's raining here in my neck of the woods...just a steady's been all night and morning so far...we need it.....I'm enjoying it....sitting in my flannel nightgown.....commenting on your
    blog post and sipping coffee all nice warm!!!!'s beginning to feel like winter!

  8. I am so envious of your carrots...have never grown them and yours look amazing!

  9. Your carrots sound yummy and FRESH. Glad you're ready for that winter. I don't miss the Iowa winters much! We're still feeling fallish here on the Atlantic ocean.

  10. Oh, your carrots look fabulous! Good enough for ART! I've been eating a new thing....shredded carrots, pineapple (sometimes I roast it) and toss in some craisins. YUM. I don't know how you do that cold weather. It has been in the 30's today and I'm sitting here freezing to death. Well, not death...but you know what I mean.


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