I’ve been expecting him. He’s been knocking at the door for a few weeks now, watching for someone to forget the latch. Well someone left the gate open and that Old Man Winter came bowling in!
I was recently at a pot luck party, and the inevitable snow of winter was a hot topic of conversation. All around the room, I could hear fierce debates on whether the ‘Old Man’ was welcome in the neighbourhood with all the baggage that he brings.
The childhood hero, capable of closing school to allow a day of sledding, has for some, become the villain of adult life, blinding them to the beauty of the season and rendering them unable to see past the long nights, the icy doorsteps and the snow that must be shoveled.
In contrast, some were reveling in the anticipation of a snowy playground on clear frosty mornings, while others were simply looking forward to the forced period of hibernation that a storm day brings.
I’m a supporter of winter… at least most of the time!
Today was about as cold as it gets here in Nova Scotia. As I pulled on my boots I glanced at the thermometer waving at me, energetically in the wind; the needle was pointing at -18c. The weather lady had said to expect a wind chill of -30C, and so with a grimace, I pulled my hat down over my brows, pulled my coat zipper to the very top, and stepped out into the white abyss
On days such as this, I find myself questioning why I keep animals but keep animals I do, and they were waiting for food and water. I have no choice; I have to go out in the cold. With heads down to avert the horizontal snow that was stinging our faces, John and I trudged the 400 feet or so to the barn. The pigs were happy to see us, and their morning greetings lifted our spirits as the wind pushed us inside the door. As expected, the water buckets were frozen but, in these extreme temperatures so was the faucet on the heated water pipe. With freezing fingers, John fought with a blow torch to get the pipes flowing again and water was dispensed to the waiting animals. Of course, pigs will be pigs, and much of it was sloshed on the floor to quickly form a dangerous ice rink across the barn floor.
Outside in the garden, I scraped away the snow that had built up against the hen house and with fingers sticking to the frigid metal, I tried in vain to open the snow clad door. It took a few hefty kicks to free it from its icy grip and I stood back for the hens to tumble out of the door, but no feathery friends came forth. Sticking my head inside, I saw 12 disgruntled hens sitting on their perches.”You’ve got to be kidding!”, they said, so I threw their food on the floor and quickly shut the door again. “It won’t hurt them to stay indoors just once in their lives,” we agreed, as we stood cursing the weather and wishing we were some place else.
About an hour later John and I finally sat down by the fire with our own oatmeal and morning coffee. Numbed toes and fingers slowly thawed and we marveled at the comfort that a simple wood stove brings. We settled in for a day of baking cookies, pots of tea and some good reading, all the while, listening to the wintry winds rushing along overhead, sounding like a freight train with no place to stop. A rare chance to relax and recuperate for the warmer days that will surely follow.
And so, yes, I remain a supporter of winter; at least until the animals need feeding this evening and we do it all again! Ask me then…
(My apologies for posting old photos but my fingers were too bloody cold to operate a camera!)