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Farm Life in December

Our farm is blanketed in beautiful snow and it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas! This is always an adventurous time of year, when we first start dealing with real cold and snow and see how the systems we set up on balmy fall days will work.

The first snowstorm of the season happened this past Monday, when we got about six inches of fluffy white snow. At the end of this week we're looking at temperatures plunging down to 0, with a wind chill of -30 degrees Fahrenheit. Fortunately most things around the farm seem to be handling the cold well.

The stalls for our animals are quite warm and protected from the cold, and the chickens have made it their mission to not venture out of doors until the snow is gone. The geese and ducks, however, head out every day and don't mind snow at all. In fresh powder they will even make as if they are bathing in water, flapping their feathers all about to get them clean.

Goats are skeptical of anything liquid, and they won't even go outside on rainy days in summer. So snow was a cause for some anxiety among them, especially Mr Jones who shivers in fear when new things are introduced. They've come around with some coaxing and the added temptation of fresh pine boughs in their pasture, a favorite treat for hungry goats.

Needless to say Stanley is delighted with the snow. The Maremma is from a cold, mountainous area of Italy and his thick white coat means he barely feels a chill. He loves to dash around and leap into snow piles as only a puppy can. Surprisingly our kitten, Millie, is equally delighted with the snow and unlike our older cat is not perturbed by the cold.

Meanwhile we are staying warm also! Our little wood stove has been busy keeping the bedroom warm, and the area that we walled off for the kitchen gets toasty with a simple electric heater when we're using it. The snow shovels have been brought out and we use a snowblower for clearing paths around the barn for the animals to walk around.

The last white Christmas we had here in Maine was in 2008, and before that it was almost seventy years since any real snow was around for Christmas. Similarly the last time we had below zero temperatures in December was in the 1980s. This seems to bode for a long winter, more reminiscent of the one two years ago which broke all sorts of snowfall records. While I can't say we're excited for a long and snowy winter, we are prepared and ready for whatever the weather brings.

We have also put some time into a few Christmas decorations, not the least of which was a fine, tall pine tree that we harvested from our surrounding forests. No, it's not as full and bushy as a tree farm Christmas tree, but it is still a lovely specimen and for me the fact we found it on our land makes it all the more special. We've put it up in the barn so that we and the animals can enjoy the Christmas spirit this month.

No doubt it will be a long winter, as it always is in Maine, but we're ready and we're enjoying the magical appearance that fresh snow gives our land. Hopefully the goats and chickens will come to at least tolerate the snow before the winter is over.


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