Friday, January 29, 2010

The Chicken Hat

This might very well be the best gift I've ever received...certainly the funniest, if nothing else!

The backstory: My very talented and slightly crazy friend Claire arrived at the Winter Market this past December wearing a hat that looked like a 3-D, hand-knit chicken perched on atop her head. It was the funniest thing I'd ever seen at market (that's saying something) and I nearly had to walk away I was laughing so hard.

So last week when I attended our annual spinner's party at Claire's home, she presented me with a very special gift, a chicken hat of my very own. Now you must understand, this is a special-occasion hat, not something you wear out wood-cutting or doing chores. I'm not sure who had the better look on their faces when I modeled it, Sean or Blue.
But I have to tell you, this hat is a built-in attitude adjustment. Its awfully hard to be grouchy or stressed out when you look like this!
(Thanks to my personal photographer, aka Mom, for the chicken hat photo shoot!)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ice, Ice Baby

Yeah, I know...passe pop culture reference, but I just couldn't help myself. Our whole world is ice right now, everything is covered in a solid 1/2" casing of slick crystal weight.

So far though, no real complaints as we still have electricity. There was one little hiccup at 4:05 this morning, whereupon we lay in our warm bed discussing how we would ever get the generator out of the barn and up the hill in this ice rink. Fortunately, we've had steady power since then, so no immediate need to figure out that little issue.

We did finally acquire two pairs of YakTrax yesterday, so now we are much more sure-footed in our current glass world. Blue is not so lucky and she would undoubtedly prefer the world of sod, or even snow under her paws.

Late last night when out to do boiler chores, the world was rather remarkable. Sparkling wherever light touched any surface, but the sound was unearthly. Trees all around creaked and groaned under the enormous weight of the ice. Now and again a loud, shattering crack as a limb gave up the fight and crashed to the ground. Dangerous beauty, indeed!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I know the following post will be a total non-starter for some of you, but I also know that a select few will get a small surge of joy that one more person can be added to the ranks of
"Seasonal Affective Sock Disorder!"

Yes, here it is folks...My very first hand-knit-by-me sock!

And look...
It even fits!!
Now I just have to finish the other one...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Good Frosty Morn

The temperatures have finally returned to a more normal realm for this time of year, enough so that we actually had fog this morning. Winter fog often produces one of my favorite weather-related phenomena, hoar-frost. It seems to me that nothing else can create quite the same magical quality.
After so much snow and WIND (sheesh! Enough already!) our poor little tool shed looks about to be overtaken by the unstoppable and ever-changing snow dunes...

Its hard to judge from the picture, but the snowdrift on the right is at least 4' tall, has completely encompassed our picnic table and is about 6" from the top of the herb garden gate.

A few days ago on my way to nightly boiler chores, I actually tobogganed down our lane on one of our big marine coolers that needed to be returned to the packing shed. It was full dark out, but the massive, white snow reflector gave off quite enough light to see by. It was a ridiculous amount of fun, making me yell and laugh like a loon, fully convincing Blue that something was terribly wrong. She ran alongside, barking and whining as though the cooler was taking me off towards the dark woods against my will. Ah, such is the life of a lunatic farmer in the deep clutches of an Iowa winter!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Annual Conference

As long as we can dig out of our lane (no certainty there) and safely manage the nasty road conditions, we are headed to the Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) conference today in Marshalltown. We look forward to this gathering of innovative farmers all year long. Will talk more about it upon our return, and will bitch bitterly if we can't make it. Details on one or the other to follow...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Winter Night Song

As I've mentioned before, the late night stocking of our wood-fired boiler is a mixed blessing. It is awfully hard on sub-zero nights to don winter clothing and make the walk down to the shed just as I am thinking about going to bed, but it also affords a few benefits.

Without this forced evacuation from our snug home (well, yeah we'll just let that go) I would miss any number of nature's gifts. Tonight, the temperature is -4° and the sky is crystal clear. As the moon hasn't yet risen, and stars blanket the heavens from horizon to horizon. It is so cold that the snow squeaks underfoot and passing the line of pine trees I could hear the faint clicking of the pine cones opening and the seed being dispersed out onto the ground. The first winter we were here, it took me nearly a week to figure out that sound, as it only happens at the coldest temperatures and seems be limited to the nighttime hours.

Finally, my fire chores complete I stopped on my way back to the house, my favorite sounds wavered across the snowy landscape. A pair of Barred owls were calling to each other across the timber. The chatter went on for a long time and standing still, it was the only sound I could hear. Beautiful! Its moments like these that I truly appreciate the life we live here.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Recipe for Sub-Zero Chores

  1. Think to self, "I really do have to go do chores."(insert sigh here)
  2. Drink large mug of hot coffee to fortify self
  3. Begin to add layers of clothing to protect self from cold
  4. Drink more hot coffee to further fortify self
  5. Add final layers of outerwear protect inner-layered self from deep cold
  6. Look thoughtfully at empty coffee pot and realize your self now has to go to the bathroom
  7. (insert deep sigh here)
  8. Begin to strip off layers to find overheating self buried within
  9. Take self to bathroom
  10. Start over with Step #1, skipping over Steps #2, 4, 6 & 8 if you ever hope to actually make it outside
  11. Fill buckets with hot water for livestock, spill some on self
  12. Slowly move self outdoors under the weight of hot water buckets to work through chores.
It seems somehow appropriate that this process works out to 12 steps.

And just in case you are from the south and are unfamiliar with how to dress when choring (yes, here in rural Iowa that is a word) during sub-zero temperatures, here's a hint...
If more than your eyes are visible, you wont last long!

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Blue Full Long Nights Moon

The full moon closest to the Winter Solstice is called the Long Nights Moon as it is the longest night of the year with a full moon This full moon is particularly special because it is also a Blue Moon, meaning it is the second full moon to occur within this calendar month (and not, much to Blue's dismay, named in honor of our fine canine friend).

Regardless, it is quite an auspicious way to welcome in the New Year. So Happy New Year everyone, we hope it brings good luck, much joy and abundant blessings to you and yours!