Saturday, January 19, 2013

Winter Ramblings

After the snow has been on the ground constantly for two months, some folks develop winter blues. They snuggle down in the bed longer and feel listless from the unrelenting white in the world outside their door.

Not us. There is too much to do on the ranch. Cattle need feeding and checking still. The wood still has to be cut to keep the wood cook stove going. The mud room quite literally lives up to its name as mud still finds its way indoors in spite of the stomping, stamping ritual on the boot cleaner on the porch. Occasionally the guys will stomp out a syncopated beat making for some improvisational drumming.

There is still plenty to do in the house too. The men, young and old, turn the living room into a temporary tool repair shop in the evening. The living room's warmth makes working on the tools much more comfortable than the single digit temps out in the workshop. When both the tools and the fingers are stiff from the cold not much progress can be made in repairing tools. They share stories and tall tales during the repairs along with hot chocolate, gingerbread and laughter. During daylight the men work the livestock and ranch chores. Sometimes we will have to go help out a neighbor with an emergency or an extra heavy chore. One or two of us will stay at the ranch while the others go over.

Reading, sewing, yarn crafts, and ordering seeds are part of my winter evenings. Homeschooling, cleaning, cooking and help with the livestock when an extra pair of hands are needed are my days. The whole day is punctuated with prayer when we stop and pray the Liturgy of the Hours in the mornings and evenings before breakfast and supper.

Going to Mass can sometimes be an adventure after a blizzard. Our two 4-wheel-drive trucks see a great deal of usage in these months. Tire chains and a shovel stowed in the back help with the occasional bog down.

A good many evenings there are no chores, no repairs and no emergencies. The dishes are dried by the all male assembly line and we can all settle into a book or a board game. The two dogs will sneak into the kitchen to steal food from the bowl of the two house cats. The boys will go in to scold the dogs and then a chase will begin. The dogs bouncing through the house with the boys in hot pursuit. The cats head under the sofa until the crazy is over. You would think they would be too tired for that rumpus but boys and dogs always manage one more game.

Slow stews simmer on the wood stove and complement the hot biscuits from the oven. The guys slather butter and jam on their hot biscuits and debate the last one until they cut it in half for sharing. My stews are cobbled together from the root cellar and larder. Last summer's tomatoes and other vegetables are canned and make a nice base with the chicken stock or beef stock. Potatoes and parsnips, carrots and other crunchy veg simmer with the chunks of meat canned last fall. Sometimes the pot has a creamy soup in it: chicken and noodles; cream of potato; cream of mushroom... it keeps us warm, nourished and full. Many books and magazines talk about gourmet dishes as though they were something to be worshiped. For us, food is a delicious means to keep our bodies going for the hard chores. Butter is a staple for us. You cannot get much tastier than butter on hot breads or sauteing onions. The jellies and jams are sweet condiments for the breads and waffles. The pickled veg are tart and sweet additions to brighten the winter plate and provide much needed vitamin c and other important vitamins. Did I mention we do not have a low carb diet? Or a low fat diet... or a South Beach, or any other diet for that matter. Our life provides plenty of exercise in winter. Trudging through the waist high snow (sometimes deeper) to do chores burns vast amounts of calories readily.

Time to get back to work. With prayers for all, the Plain Catholics in the Northern Mountains
Daniel 3
...46  Bless the Lord, dews and snows,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
47  Bless the Lord, nights and days,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
48  Bless the Lord, light and darkness,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
49  Bless the Lord, ice and cold,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
50  Bless the Lord, frosts and snows,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever....

1 comment:

Michelle-ozark crafter said...

A lovely blessed picture is what your post gives me! Makes me long to move in with you! LOL!

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