NORTHERN WINTER + THE DANCE OF LIFE

 

As I type this, a snow front is sweeping across our region. The beauty of the North (rather, one beauty of the North) is the preparedness of its residents. Six inches is a lot of snow to fall overnight, but it doesn't seem to stop anyone from doing anything. In chatting with a  neighbor who runs a small cow dairy and hauls animals for us, he explained that his plan was to start milking at 2:30 a.m. in order to get on the road by 5:30 a.m. for where he was headed. Come snow, come freeze, that was his plan. If inhabitants of the South have a warmth all their own, those in the North are tenacious. And I like this. Maybe especially on a farm, where the weather cannot deter what Must Be Done. Living among a community that responds to this call is welcome.

The animals and the mornings have made it abundantly clear that winter is here. With their thick coats, their early roosting time (the chickens are roosting in their coop by 4 p.m., as determined by the setting sun), the frozen water lines and, perhaps most of all, the moon that hangs in the sky longer than the sun—it's all a magnificent dance of seasonality. The kids we have been personally raising, Dill and Tuna, live in a small lean-to with a short concrete wall for resting behind. There is plenty of hay on the ground for added warmth, but still Mark and I wondered if they would be "OK" in the impending weather: warm enough, dry enough, full enough. The answer is Yes. Very Yes. As farmers we often care for animals as if their lives depend on us, but most times — like today, for instance — I am reminded that animals are fueled by a need to survive, and a healthy animal will find a way to survive 99% of the time with no human intervention. Conversely, if an animal is unhealthy, it probably will not survive. That's it. Mark wrote a post on this subject early in the spring that rings as true today as it did then. We do our best, and so do they. The dance of life is most magnificent of all—humbling, awe-some, tenacious.


—S