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  • Writer's pictureKen Campbell

Run-up to Winter Solstice


Short, grey winter days are not an effective stimulus for creating a set of interesting blog notes. But life goes on regardless of the season; luckily, it doesn’t take a strong inspiration to put together a shortlist of notable happenings.

December is smack in the middle of the rainy season and rainstorms regularly come and go through the long nights and short days. When the rain is heavy, the flood in the pasture flows, and when the rain stops for a day or two, the flood ebbs. Depending on the flood condition, ducks and geese visit the pasture and feed just outside our window. They forage on newly exposed foodstuff uncovered by the flood and newly emerged grass. Sometimes these birds are here all day.

The dogs respond to the dreary days by spending most of their time in the house close to the wood-burning fire. This is particularly notable for Barley who normally, during fair weather times, spends all day outside patrolling the property. Now she comes out only in the mid-afternoon to meet and greet Ivan when he comes home from school. Otherwise, she is content to join Libby sleeping close to the woodstove.

With the pigs and cows gone to slaughter and the sheep hunkered down in the barn most of the day, the barnyard is quiet. The chickens provide some entertainment as Jean has adopted the practice of scattering corn for them each time we go out and get in the car. When they see Jean, they come running out of the barn in their awkward two-legged lope in hopes of scoring some of the scattered feed. The flock follows her around until they discover either she has feed in-hand or she doesn’t. This summer’s chicks have grown and matured to the point that they are now integrated into the adult flock.

We lost a lamb from the farm flock just the other day. It was one of two late-born lambs that were too small to harvest at the time of slaughter. Thus, these two lambs remained with the flock of three ewes, one ram, and a goat as we went into winter. The flock is confined to the barn and a small enclosure/pasture behind the barn during the winter. Jay’s best guess is that the lamb escaped the enclosure and could not get back in to join the flock. A solitary lamb is a vulnerable lamb and the local coyotes probably removed it from the flock while it was isolated and detached from flock protection.

Ivan and Arno have their time taken up with school and after-school activities. Ivan is active in Han-mu-do and band and Arno participates in, first, cross country and now, in wrestling. Their after-school activities keep Ellen and Jay busy taking them to and, then retrieving them from the various venues.

Jay has finished the remodel of the old well-house. What used to be a dilapidated, unsightly structure is now an attractive little building that complements the overall architectural theme that Ellen has established for the farm.

There has been a slew of birthdays as we approach the winter solstice. First Leo; then, in order, Lucy, Ken, Arno, and Georgie. With Thanksgiving at Jody’s house thrown into the mix, these last months of the year have been a festive time. This time was blighted somewhat with Ken having his gall bladder removed but enlightened by Jean painting several small watercolor pictures of the autumn landscape and fall foliage.

We are all looking forward to Leo’s first visit home from the Army just before Christmas.

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