Heaving a sigh of relief, this farmer stood outside watching snowflakes as they cascaded from the heavens above. Winter preparations began in August, with an eye toward this inevitable day. Now it is here, I welcome our first Snow Day with open arms, and an open heart. I am ready for the chance to rest and recover from summertime’s intensity. Most importantly, I am looking forward to spending the upcoming holiday season with my family. Winter’s change of pace is most welcome.
To reach the finish-line, however, farmers must first run the gamut of winter preparations. For yours truly, that included: sending pigs and sheep onward to the final chapter of their story, pulling equipment, irrigation, and tools, off the field and gardens, mucking livestock sheds, moving mulch, moving compost, and planting garlic. Also in the mix: homeschool lessons with BraeTek (now entering what would be his sophomore year), an emergency surgery to have my troublesome gallbladder removed, and time back and forth to Solon to be with my sweetheart, Deron, and to help him maintain his home, too.
All Hands on Deck
Like some big college final, I’ve stressed about “getting it all done”. Some projects took top priority, while I abandoned others, putting them on hold till next year. It’s been all hands on deck here for weeks. All hands being BraeTek and I working together as a team, with the occasional helping hand from Deron. I pushed and pushed to put my farm to bed before the first snow. Hours before the storm was due to begin, I was planting garlic into nearly frozen ground. Finally, when the last remaining tools and equipment were put away, we closed the doors on the garage and the barn, and just like that the farm was buttoned up for the winter. It was done.
Looking ahead to the 6 weeks remaining of 2022, I am stoked to have 3 weeks of vacation coming up. Woooooooooo!
Up until two years ago, I did pies, rolls, and cookies commercially, spending the days leading up to the holidays working. I would be so worn out from cooking for others, that─when the holidays actually dawned─I was loathe to cook for my own family. That’s not how I want to spend my holidays. With William already having flown the nest, and BraeTek determined to move out at 18, I’m super conscious of the time I have left with my son. When I am gone, I don’t want his enduring memory of me to be that I was so worried about money, and this farm, that I chose to give myself to other families before my own.
Last year, I made a bold move. I took a week off for Thanksgiving, along with the last two weeks of the year, encompassing the Winter Solstice, Christmas, and New Years’. It was wonderful to have the time and energy to give to my family. It was also a chance to recharge and regroup before launching into another farming season. Rather than capitalizing on the holidays, I’ve decided to make it a tradition to take those 3 weeks off for family time (along with a little R&R). Afterall, that’s what the holidays are all about.
This year, BraeTek will help me cook the Thanksgiving dinner, as well as our annual Winter Solstice feast. Life skills are an essential part of his homeschool curriculum, and what’s more essential than being able to feed oneself? So far, my son has learned to cook: eggs, pies, stew, pasta, steak, ham roast, potatoes, pizza, yeast rolls, and marinara sauce (and more!). This is the first time he will have assisted with such a large meal, and we are both pretty excited. Then, I had the thought to build him up to prepare─from menu planning to food production─an entire feast for the family. BraeTek’s “final exam” will be held the solstice just before he turns 18.
With this new-fallen first snow, the farm is transformed. Be still my heart, what a wondrous place to be! A blanket of white covers the field. The pines drape their branches low to show off gowns of ice and snow. Once more, the woodland birds return to our feeders. With the sheep tucked snugly behind the barn and garage, and the chickens ensconced in their winter coop, this farmer can retreat to the warmth and sanctity of her farmhouse, secure in the knowledge that she gave 2022 everything she had.
Thank you for following along with the story of this female-farmer! It truly is a privilege to live this life, serve my family and community, and protect wildlife through agricultural conservation. Check back soon for more updates from the farm, and be sure to follow @RunamukAcres on Instagram or Facebook! Much love to you and yours, my friends!