Well, friends, we are past the holiday season as well as the winter solstice, and there are only eleven cold, barren weeks standing between us and springtime. So I think it’s safe to say we are mid-winter. Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all. We can endure anything for just eleven more weeks, right? And there is so much to do before then, anyway. So much to enjoy. So many cozy pleasures. How about a little mid-winter farm update? We’ll take a Lazy W tour, starting at the front.
The bachelors (Chunk our buffalo and Chanta and Dusty, our two horses) are doing great. They are faring very well in this cold weather, having grown nice and fat as well as quite furry ever since, well, since around Labor Day weekend. We’ve been periodically buying extra bales of “free choice hay” to keep them constantly fed and warmed from the inside out, and since the truly frozen days have been few and far between, keeping their trough filled with clear water has been a totally manageable chore. We may have to swing a sledgehammer to break the ice once in a while, but it seems like every time the water level drops, the temperatures are just high enough to open the faucets. The Lazy W has seen far worse winters than this.
When Jocelyn has time to visit the farm she makes sure Dusty gets some exercise, which I love to watch. She is so confident, and he is so playful. You can tell just by watching them that they love each other dearly. If she parks her car in the gravel driveway between his field and the house, he whinnies and bellows until she relents and walks over to him. (Such a tough sell.) She is teaching him some basic footwork here and there, and he is teaching her that he prefers bareback rides, no saddles please and thank you very much. All of this, of course, always results in extra cookies from me, whether she approves of my methods or not. : )
The geese are still patrolling these nine acres noisily, with unfathomable angst, honking and strutting with their wings extended like sky gliders forever anchored to the earth. Duck Duck in particular has put on an obscene amount of winter weight. He is barely recognizable now, no longer the fuzzy yellow baby we rescued in summer! But to a goose, at least to a goose who’s never heard of Norwegian winter feasts, this new-found obesity is excellent news. Duck Duck struts around the farm waddling his fat belly and shimmying his thick, flightless wings. He and Momma Goose laugh haughtily when I go out back to run miles against whatever sugary indiscretion I have most recently committed.
By the way, Duck Duck the adopted Canadian Goose is the main character in our first children’s book effort! I am so excited about this. Really excited. But I think he knows how excited I am about his story and is using it against me, like, emotionally? Instead of showing any appreciation? Geese can be very manipulative. Most people don’t know that.
Despite the cold temperatures our Lazy W hens are laying consistently. I am so grateful for this, because their eggs are absolutely divine. Heavy, yolky, delicious. And such pretty brown shells! I collected seven eggs on Monday morning and found one of them to have hairline fractures. Really beautiful. Not crushed, but frozen apart like burst pipes. I know! Frozen eggs. Completely edible. I couldn’t resist pressing my thumb against the vulnerable spot.
The Middle Field
This is the only sad news I have to report this week.
I may or may not have written this for you here, though I’ve whispered it to visitors, but I have for a while believed our young female llama, Dulcinea, to be preggo. Just judging from her behavior with Romulus (or, more to the point, his behavior with her AHEM), her increasing appetite, growing midsection, and overall neediness with Handsome and me but aversion to Meh, I was placing little bets with myself that she would give birth before Easter 2015.
Well, unfortunately, she couldn’t keep her little baby that long. We walked out to the barn this past Saturday morning to discover that she had delivered her very first baby far too early, and he did not survive. I’m glad she took herself to the warm barn for delivery at least. The tiny, clearly premature cria had exactly the colors and markings of Seraphine, our recently deceased matriarch of this gorgeous llama clan. Seraphine would have been the new baby’s grandmother. The cria was absolutely precious and so fragile looking, so thin. Dulcinea had expelled the placenta in tact and was not too bloody herself, only swollen, but also sad and ravenous. Once Handsome had removed the little thing for burial, she looked and looked and sniffed for him, crying in a way I’d never heard from her. It was incredibly sad. So we feed her heartily and give her as much affection as she would accept. Though needy, Dulcie had grown skittish since her coming of age. Ever been through that, ladies?
Life goes on. Death is certainly a part of life, like it or not, and we may never get all the answers we want or understand exactly why we have to endure so much of it. What we can do is continue to earnestly love those who are still here, those who are in need of what we can offer.
So that’s my mid-winter farm update! Thanks so much for visiting. We certainly collect more joy here than sorrow. More beauty than work. And that is why we stay.
Now I am going outside dressed in three million layers of warmth to feed and talk to our menagerie! I hope your day is cozy and productive. I hope your animals, if you have them, lend you some of their magic today.
Hang in there.
Winter is halfway over.