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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Short Days, Early Nights, Looking for Winter

It is easy to get sucked in to the idea that, once our crazy American holiday (Thanksgiving) is past, winter is here. The nights come early (at least here in the northlands.) Holiday decorations proliferate (though they have been showing up for weeks) and are now lit up. Stores, when we have to venture into them, are filled with STUFF! There is barely room to move along the isles in many stores, as "special buys" of stuff aimed at the all-but-mandatory gifting frenzy are tucked in everywhere. Tons of stuff no one needs, to be bought with money that folks don't have... could that be a definition of insanity?

Winter, however, does not arrive until just before Christmas, on Yule, the holiday we celebrate here at DutchHexSign.com and Fussing Duck farm. While I am not usually an impulse shopped, my winter coffee mug, a clear glass one with the word "snow" etched into it, died this past year and I miss it. It has become my tradition to have my morning cup of coffee in a mug relating to the season and I only had the one winter one. I have not found a replacement; everything I have seen thus far with a winter theme is actually aimed at Christmas... as is the $1 special shown above. But, though Christmas celebrants have co-opted the name of our holiday, when I say "Yule" I do mean Yule and not Christmas, so this mug will, at least, get me through the actual Yuletide season.

I don't decorate a lot for any holiday or season. We don't, in any conventional sense of the word, have "house" anyway. Yes, there is a kitchen, a couple of bathrooms and a den, but the main part of the house that most folks would deem the "living room" contains not a single couch (actually we do not own one) or coffee table, TV or any of the like. Instead it is my workroom and is filled with looms (2 of the 3) spinning wheels (2), a seed starting rack, a kiln, a couple of chairs suitable for spinning or painting, my painting table and desk. And the wood stove, which hopefully will be installed soon, but will require a massive re-organization to give it safe space...you get the picture! I will, eventually, put the little potted tree on the kitchen table (finally found a source for the things that will grow into actual trees, no the shrubs the big box stores sell, if they have anything besides the cut trees) and I plan to hang the fake wreath with it's central pentagram on the house... with lights this year, since I am finding LED light strings with warm white colored bulbs. Call me strange, but the standard cool white (aka bluish) LEDs leave me... cold... at best.

Mostly here on the farm we are taking advantage of the delay in the onset of winter symptoms (in Maine we can see snow as early
freshly tarped chicken coop
goat house needs new tarps, badly
as the first of October, though it usually doesn't stay around long) to winterize our critter houses. We planned to side them all with recycled wood, but Tractor Guy's health issues and extra orders of hex signs kinda kicked that plan to the curb... which was a long ways 'cause there are no curbs in the country! So they are getting re-tarped this year. Previous tarp coverings lasted more than a year, and were not secured as well as we are doing this fall so it should  hold. We also moved part of the fence for the ducks area to get them "down off the hill" where the land was built up for the house. Ducks, water, mud, ducky poo, hill and winter are not a good mix. Heck, ducks mud and a hill can be bad news any time of the year, as I have gone down (softly, thankfully) more than once this fall. So they have lost the hill and gained a bit of flat ground which should make winter chores easier.

I keep seeing snow in the forecast. Sometimes 5-8 inches, sometimes 1-3, but thus far, we have not seen actual snow more than in bits and dribs and it hasn't stayed around long. Looking at the 10 day forecast this morning, I see 3 possible instances of 1-3 and one <1 .="" after="" am="" and="" class="text_exposed_show" comes="" even="" from="" getting="" goat="" hoping="" house="" i="" if="" it="" means="" not="" of="" on="" really="" remnants="" removing="" roof.="" snowy="" so="" some="" span="" spirit="" stays="" tarp="" the="" though="" tuesday="" we="" yuletide="">know that Yule marks the beginning of winter, not the middle or anything else. I have the stuff to make cookies and fruitcake and such and have had zero motivation to tackle these projects. But, now, writing about it, I am also feeling the urge to try -- after years of not having done so -- making fondant and dipping some chocolates and nuts. Yes, I DO, in theory, know how to do this. It is another thing I learned from my grandmother, who at one time in her life worked in a chocolate factory. Yanno, it was not until just now (way too late, as she died when I was 16) that this struck me as something I should have asked more about. After all, she did not work in the 16 or so years that I knew her, and she died at 76. So, a woman who was born in 1888, and as far as I know lived her life in the rural midwest in an era when most women were not employed outside the home or off the farm, WORKED in a CHOCOLATE FACTORY. Where? When? Why?? But that is lost in history. Hopefully what she taught me, I still have tucked back in that rusty steel sieve I call a brain somewhere.