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October on the Farm

We have woken up to frost on the fields several times since October first. Winter coats have been brought out of storage and the goats grew a thick layer of fuzz almost overnight. Maine is also showing off its brilliant foliage, a short and dramatic annual reminder of the fleeting season of fall.

A few weeks ago we completed our first fall project, burying our waterline so that our pipes would not freeze in the coming frost. Unfortunately this project doesn't help us with our actual water level, which has been dangerously low this summer. The Northeast in general is experiencing a drought this summer, but some pockets in Maine have barely even seen a passing thunderstorm since Mother's Day. Our spring fed well went dry at the end of August, and I have been bringing containers full of water home from my work for our animals and our cooking since then.

You know it is dry when the laundromat down the street closes because their drilled way has run dry. No local farmers were able to get second cuts of hay this year, which means keeping livestock over the winter is going to be an expensive undertaking. Nonetheless there are silver linings to the dry weather: we've been able to clear areas of the field that in a normal summer would bog down a tractor. We just have our fingers crossed for a snowy winter so that next summer can get off to a good, typically wet start.

Meanwhile there are plenty of other things to keep us busy headed into winter. My vegetable garden for next year was recently tilled over, and the soil will be left to decompose over the winter. We'll do another turn of it in the spring, mix in some compost, and start planting. The new vegetable garden is approximately 60 x 60, giving us plenty of space for all of our favorites and more.

My favorite fall addition is the lighting up of the wood stove. We're using a tiny Waterford wood stove to heat the two front rooms in the house, where we sleep, feed the cats, enjoy movies and keep our clothes. Basically all of the elements of a regular house, except for the kitchen, dining room, and bathroom. It brings those front rooms up to toasty temperatures we were never able to accomplish even using regular propane heat in our old home, thanks to its size and large, open rooms.

The stove keeps the house warm through the night and just adds an undeniable element of cozy to our lives. The scent alone, wafting across the field, fills my mind with warm and comforting thoughts. The cats are not complaining about the toasty stove, either.

There's plenty more to do over the next few weeks, but our winter schedule is taking shape. Now we're just waiting for that inevitable moment when snowflakes start to fill the sky!


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