Christmas on the Farm

Christmas on the Farm

It was Mom for the win this Christmas on the farm, when I surprised BraeTek by painting his room. I’m still sore and recovering from the ordeal, but pleased as punch with the victory.

christmas on the farm
Christmas on the farm.

Kitchen Closed

The aftermath of last week’s big storm lingered late into the week. We were lucky here to have only lost power for 24 hours. Across the state, some households are still waiting a week later. On the farm, the real struggle came from a delayed delivery of much-needed heating fuel.

In low-lying areas along the many rivers of the region, entire sections of roadways were submerged for 24, 36 and even 48 hours. Bridges─designed to allow for spring flooding─became suspect under the stress and strain of the massive amounts of rushing water. For safety’s sake, the Department of Transportation closed the Madison-Anson Bridge just south of the farm, which meant no fuel delivery until the road was opened again.

For better or worse, I happen to be well versed in this situation.

Finances being what they are, I struggle all winter to keep heating fuel and we frequently run out. Because we live in such a rural area, our fuel supplier only delivers to our town once a week on Mondays. So if we run out, it can be a few days before I can secure fuel. When this happens, I fetch off-road diesel from town 5-10 gallons at a time. I feed it into the tanks, then bleed the system and fire it back up.

With a house this size 5 or 10 gallons is just a drop in the tank. From experience, I’ve learned to drop the thermostat a few degrees and avoiding the use of anything that sucks up the hot water. This means no dishwasher or washing machine (except on cold), and absolutely NO showers. It also means I sometimes live in my insulated carhartt bibs to maintain body temperature.

As a result, I closed the kitchen last week and did not open the farmstand for the holiday weekend, as intended. I was fortunate not to have any guests staying with us during this time, too. Mercifully, the days were warm, and by Thursday my supplier was able to reach us.

Meanwhile, I kept busy with my holiday projects─gifts I had made that needed finishing, BraeTek’s big surprise, and, of course, all of the gift-wrapping still to do.

My First-Ever Handmade Furniture

Back in September, I had promised to make my sister a little table for the microwave and coffee maker she keeps in her classroom. Marie teaches language arts at nearby Mt Abrahm Regional High School. Using various scrap-lumber, I crafted my first-ever piece of handmade furniture.

Actually, I really enjoy working with wood. I like the smell of it, and the process of building and making things. With plans for birdhouses, and ideas of crafting bookcases and end-tables, I think you’ll see more of that coming from this farm in the not-too-distant future. For now though, I needed to get the little table painted and stained before I could gift it to my sister for Christmas.

The pièce de résistance, however, was BraeTek’s bedroom.

Mom for the Win!

When I bought the house and property in 2018, BraeTek got one of the nicest rooms in the house. Having been recently remodeled, it has new flooring, freshly painted trim and some really nice wallpaper. But it was a very feminine, floral wallpaper, and BraeTek really wanted to paint the room. I agreed and he proceeded to painstakingly peel the wallpaper from his 4 bedroom walls. It’s been an on-going process ever since.

Now, with BraeTek turning 17 in February, I’m keenly aware of the time I have left with my son. I want him to be able to enjoy his room before he fledges the nest to brave that big world beyond the farm. And after 5 years working on this project, I really just want it finished and off my plate, lol. So I made the sacrifice and bought the 1 can of paint for the trim, thinking to break up the financial investment. The plan was to do the trim, then go back for the other 2 cans we’d need for the walls.

When BraeTek decided to spend a week at his Dad’s for the Solstice, I seized the opportunity to get the painting done. Fetching the remaining 2 cans of paint from Home Depot in Waterville, I spent last week pushing hard to paint trim and walls in my son’s bedroom. My intention was to have the painting done, new curtains made, and everything clean and back in place before he returned.

Fast-forward to Christmas-Eve-Eve, where you’ll find me painting at 5:30 in the morning. It was a mad rush to finish the job after BraeTek texted to come home a day early. I did it, too, by golly! Though, I wasn’t able to get the curtains made, or all of the furniture back in place, the painting was done when he returned that afternoon.

“Fricken awesome!” were his exact words.

In that moment, I was a super-mom and all my shortcomings were erased. It was “Mom for the win!” and a Christmas he’ll never forget. Those moments are harder and harder to come by as our children age, and I hope he will cherish the memory as much as I will.

Christmas on the Farm

After my big win on Christmas-Eve-Eve, the rest of our festivities were pretty low-key. We went to my sister’s on actual Christmas Eve for pizza and holiday movies. She spoiled us with homemade cocoa and a cocoa bar. Then, she joined BraeTek and I for Christmas on the farm the next morning. We spent the day eating treats, playing video games, watching movies, and generally antagonizing each other in the way that only family can.

I opted to keep things simple for Christmas dinner, with a hands-off pot-roast. I put a leg of lamb in a cast-iron kettle with potatoes and carrots from my own gardens and slow-cooked it to perfection. It was fitting, I think, to have a meal 100% derived from the farm itself. A poignant culmination of the holiday that was fairly satisfying for yours truly.

This Week

The last week on the calendar is always an awkward time of year. Squashed between Christmas and New Years’, we’re all half-in/half-out of holiday mode, overloaded and worn-out. Personally, I like to take this time to start putting things in order for “next year”. Here are a few things on my list for this week:

  • Finish assembling BraeTek’s room: furniture needs to be washed and put back in place, and I need to spend time with my sewing machine to put together his new curtains.
  • Annual farm-planning: what does 2024 look like for Runamuk?
  • Lesson planning: We’re on “vacation” right now in our homeschooling endeavors, but I need to be prepared to pick it back up next week.
  • Baking: Now that I have hot water for washing, I need to give a day to baking breads for the farmstand and the farmstay.
  • Year’s-End Review: Upcoming farm-update.

Sincere Authenticity

Aside from the big win with the paint-job, our holiday was a quiet─but sincere─affair. I’m finding I much prefer life that way. Most days I am content to stay on the farm, living and working in sincere authenticity. I have more than enough variety, activity, and social interaction right here to satisfy my own particular needs. Stay tuned for my upcoming Year’s-End Review and a glimpse at what’s in store for Runamuk in 2024!

Sending love and light to you all in the coming New Year.

Thank you for following along with the story of this lady-farmer! It is truly a privilege to live this life serving my family and community, and protecting wildlife through agricultural conservation. Check back soon for more updates from the farm, and be sure to follow @runamukacres on Instagram or Facebook!

3 Comments

  1. Donna Cyr

    Miss Burns , I have been following your post for some times . You have had many hard times and some very good. I was wondering why you heat with oil and not wood. I know Maine very well. Very cold and snowy winters. I grew up in W. MA and know wood is in abundance. I also know it is a lot of work wood gets handled many times over before it becomes heat. Perhaps you do not have the chimneys . Just wondering why no wood heat ?

    1. Samantha Burns

      Hi Donna! I grew up heating with wood and much prefer it. Unfortunately, I have what must be the only farmhouse in Maine with no woodstove or fireplace! (Insert facepalm here) I plan to invest in an outdoor wood burner and convert the house’s systems to that. But it’s a big investment and out of reach at the moment. Thanks for following along!

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