Saturday, December 31, 2016

Put up that Calendar!

'Tis the time of year, again, when everyone is looking back at the year (many with regret over the well known figures who have died and many on both sides considering the past election and what it holds for the future) and the cultural "party hearty" meme takes center stage. For some folks (not many in my circles) it will be a night to dress up, take to the town, eat, drink and watch some local cultural icon descent from a high point at midnight. Many of these same folks will stagger in the the true first day of the new calendar feeling less than optimal and especially glad for the "extra day off" that the holiday being on Sunday has decreed.

As one who believes strongly in living with intention and in sympathetic magic, I have never truly understood this phenomenon. For years I have done my best to take down the old calendar in a home that is clean and in order and put up the new in the morning with a cheerful countenance, much rest and an energetic start to the day. After all, that is how I would like the rest of the days in this calendar to pass.

I'm not quite as far along with all that as I would like, though I will complete a bit more organizing this evening. I am satisfied with what I have completed. I had planned to spend more of the day on this project, but having a tractor "stuck" in the driveway necessitated other work. Tractor Guy had tried to start clearing the drive after our 8-10" of blowing snow the other day, but the under layer of ice had other ideas. Not only did little get cleared, the tractor did not have enough traction to get back up the slight incline. Getting some of the snow cleared from "the hill" and the below freezing temperatures, TG though, might help the old Fergie to at least get back to her resting spot... so I spent the day's energy attacking with a shovel. It worked, the tractor is back up but once again, no clearing happened. AND we are expecting 3-5 more inches of snow tonight! So, all things considered, the domestic order that has been obtained thus far will have to do as a calendar-turning base line this time around, along with thankfulness for electricity (most of the time) and alternatives when it fails (kero lights and a space heater, propane heaters and range) and a roof that does not leak, along with walls that are beginning to leak less wind.

While I don't count the new year as beginning until spring equinox, I recognize that the period from Yule until our calendar change is highly charged with energy from the masses who hold the winter new year dear. And that energy is available to those who wish to "amp up" their efforts to grow and change.

garage and house shadows near dawn
While I do not do resolutions, I have begun, with this dark moon, to work with a local group and the Perennial Course in Living Druidry as well as working with my friend's book, Writing with the Stars. The Druid project has us paying especial attention to the natural world and as a result, I noticed the shadows (left) out my window this morning. The small bit of sunlight between the house shadow and the garage shadow was
Arrangement of house and garage
something I had not seen before. You see, the arrangement of the two buildings is such that, when the sun rises as far south-east as it is presently, would be the only time this would be possible, as the way the buildings are located, most of the time the early morning shadows fall much farther west. You can be sure I will be watching at sunrise for the next few weeks, and again before the equinox come December 2017.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Hygge - we don't have to name it to have it

The world has been shrinking for a long time. Beloved customs and traditions of a culture have been shared, adopted, adapted, modified and even corrupted as they move around the globe. I have been thinking about this today, in regard to hygge.

Hygge (koselig, mysigt in Norwegian and Swedish) is a thing in the Scandinavian countries. And it is, so it seems, becoming a thing elsewhere in the world as well. There have been articles about it in the NY Times as well as a spate of books published recently. And from my recent perusal, it seems that this (to me) most natural of things, when coming to the USA, is taking on a distinctly capitalist slant, much the way the "simple living" movement did in its day.

 Hygge, if you have not yet encountered the term, was described in a comment in a friend's blog:
It’s all about creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere in your own space and/or a good and positive atmosphere with the people you are with and the presence of mind to take notice of the things and people around you. It’s about creating a space where you are comfortable and safe, with things and happenings you find beautiful, joyful and enjoyable. 
 To me, nothing there says "Go! Spend money! Shop!" although I supposed, given the commerce-o-centric mindset of many of my contemporaries, that might be a common take away.

I was thinking about this today as I drove through a light snowfall on my errands: taking trash and recycles for disposal, visiting a friend, hauling hay. Trash and recycles are a monthly
Artie, the old farm
truck with 4 studded
snow tires, considers
the driveway.
thing, just prior to the dark (new) moon and disposing of them allows space for abundance to flow into my life, and this was the last day of the moon cycle to accomplish this task. My old farm truck did its job and I was safe on the road, warmed by his heater and happily carried out my ritual, visit and returned with hay for the goats, in advance of what may be a week to 10 days of actual winter weather here in the Northlands. I would hazard a guess that I was not only feeling hygge, but my trip was building more for the future. And yes, there was money involved (you don't get good hay for a smile and a promise of future milk), but not in the sense that many of those who are working to monetize the concept would have us believe is necessary.

My first awareness of hygge, as I think back through my life, was around Christmas time, though I was only in WA state at the time and not in the far northlands. I was living in a 12x16 cabin with no utilities, a couple of kero lamps and a tiny formerly coal furnace that I was feeding with gathered wood. Snow was falling and night was, as well. I had recently hauled water from the
Carrots from this
year's garden.
creek and my supper of some of the last of the gleaned carrots and potatoes from my friends' garden were simmering on the stove with an onion and a bit of a bullion cube for flavor. I poured a bit of the ice cold water into a crystal goblet (the last remaining of a set handed down in the family), threw another handful of wood in the stove and felt that, at that moment, in that time and place, life was perfect. Yes, I had on wool socks and sweater and was sitting on a hand made quilt (according to the writers, all are important aspects of hygge) but all were second hand. I didn't call it hygge. I didn't call it anything. Heck, at that point in my life, just starting on the spiritual path that has led to evolving into a crone and volva, I didn't call it anything either!

I firmly insist that, while having names for things does make it easier to talk about them, and much easier to sell them, they do not have to have names in order to exist. And while the Danes seem to take as much pleasure from talking about hygge and from experiencing it, I am not sure it's necessary.

And I AM sure that going out to buy stuff specifically with the intent of invoking hygge is counter-productive, and pretty sure that the consumer-oriented folks, for whom "newer-better-faster" is a mantra, for those who put more stock in "the latest," be it a food trend, an item of clothing or whatever, will never find it.

Some things can't be bought.

For a sweater, sweatshirt, shawl, shirt or dress to become a favorite, it has to have been around for a while. One or two seasons just doesn't cut it, in my world, at least. It need to have accompanied you on adventures, absorbed feeling of wonder and success from those adventures. It must, through those shared memories, wrap you in love and good will, as much as warmth. That's hygge in my world.

And that cup from which you drink your coffee or that glass from which you have wine (or, in my anecdote, above, water) must bring comfort and good feelings from long use, from memories of morning coffee-talks with friends or family or evening spent in similar fashion. Likewise, your "cozy" abode, in which you sit, drink in hand, and watch the storm rage outside becomes your refuge not by the purchase of the "right" accents but by the arrangement of beloved trinkets and comfortable furniture acquired over time, often adjusted and readjusted perhaps as seasons change. For me, lighting by fire (be it candles or kerosene lamps) will always invoke hygge and the modern LED favorites -- especially the bright blue-white colored ones -- are its antithesis. As does spinning and to a lesser extent knitting (just because I need better light to see the stitches!)

I think that, for those who seek hygge, all I can say is that those who tie it all to money will never get there.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The "No Matter What" Committment

I have always put great stock in keeping ones word, in saying what one means and meaning what one says, in honor and commitment. None of that has changed.

I also used to be known for my "no matter what" commitments. If I said I would do something, I would move heaven and earth to make it happen. Long hours, no problem. Stress, no problem. multiple irons in the fire? Juggle faster. If it was winter and I had to make connections, I would leave hours in advance, if necessary, to make sure that I got to my destination. If I ended up sliding off the road (which did not happen often) as soon as the tow truck cleared the area, I was on my way again. I was loath to use the disclaimer "weather permitting" and pitted my big rear-wheel-drive rambling wreck of the year, 4 studded snow tires firmly affixed, against roads and conditions that often had me passing multiple 4WD rigs of the road on either side.

I still put great stock in keeping ones word, in saying what one means and meaning what one says, in honor and commitment.


The time has come for me to back away from those "no matter what" commitments.  It is not going to be easy, because, after all, I still WANT to be that young, bulletproof go-getter. My mind doesn't always pay attention when the body says "Hey! Wait just a bloody minute! Remember ME... the one that really can't..."

But the truth is, I am not that young woman any more. I can't shovel our 200 foot long driveway and clear it of ice and snow, quickly, in the morning after a day of snow, a day of rain and a night of zero degrees. I can't comfortably spend a day running about in town, slide home on inhospitable roads after dark and jump up before dawn the next day to do it all over again. Doesn't mean I don't want to, but the body has other ideas.

I still put great stock in keeping ones word, in saying what one means and meaning what one says, in honor and commitment. And therefore I know it is not going to be easy scaling back, sorting out commitments and learning not to always lead with "I can do that." Because, even if I can and want to, it does not mean that -- here and now -- I should.

Many of you have fought and are fighting your own battles against programming over the years to put everyone else first. Women, especially, with our maternal hormones assisting, appropriately prioritize our kids needs. And then wants, wishes... It can get out of hand. Hubby figures in there too, and year upon year it becomes habit. And it often gets extended beyond the family to our social groups, churches, jobs...

"You gave your WORD." Powerful stuff, and rightly so. But I am no longer that bulletproof youngster, that eager maiden, that busy mother. I am a crone, and as such I give my word, to myself, that I will listen to my body, will mind my energy levels and will speak this new truth as exactly as I am able.

You may hear "I would like to, though this week is already full." Or "I wish you well. This is my time for planting and the soil and air are right for it. I hope you enjoy your day as much as I will enjoy mine." Or you may hear "Sounds like fun, but not now" or simply "No." Or alternatively "I'll be there if it rains!" or " I really want to and hope I will be able to. May I let you know later?" Please understand that I am doing my best to say what I mean and mean what I say.  And understand that it isn't because I like you any less but rather because I need to prioritize my needs a little bit more.

And, being human, I may forget. I know, even when I was that bulletproof young'un, I tended to over commit. I hope that any of my friends who read this will continue be willing to ask and invite. I know most of you don't live in "my world" -- one that is closely aligned with the cycles of the earth; day length, temperature, precipitation, planting and harvest, and critters and with less attention than you likely can imagine to weeks and weekends, to time by the clock, to the routines that town and city folk take for granted. So, please ask me what's on my plate. I can (and possibly will!) talk your ear off about the seedlings, varieties, experiments, precipitation or lack thereof and the antics of the fowl and goats and the latest hex signs I am working on. I'll try to be aware of your eyes glazing over and I am pretty sure I will notice your snoring when you fall asleep. By the same token, if I go off on a seemingly endless litany of "exciting things" that are happening on the farm, please ask me, if you are sharing an event or asking for my help in some way "you sound very busy. Are you sure you can do this?"

And remind me about this post if you need to. I may need it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

"The Season": Winter Holidays/Holy Days

In my world, tonight -- December 20, 2016, and the night before the winter solstice -- is M┼Źdraniht (Mother Night), the night to honor the disir as well as our own foremothers and, if appropriate I would add the female mentors along our spiritual path. I choose, at the time, to also raise a glass in honor of my "aftmothers" -- my 5 daughters and one granddaughter who are currently actively mothering my grand and great-grand children. 

I see threads of Mother Night in the Christian folks honoring of Mary during their winter holiday. Mary, who will give birth on this night (by custom, though not likely by the calendar long ago) to the Son of their God harkens, in my mind, to honoring the AllMother, and all mothers, on this night which gives birth -- once again -- to the Sun. 

Regardless of what path you follow, I urge you to take time, at some point in the next few days (before the secular Christmas overwhelms all else for most folks) to consider those who nurtured you in Faith and in Creativity and to lift a glass (water works well!) or a cup (coffee??) in their honor and to consider, on the spiral of life, what may be reborn this year from your "loins" and your heritage. is the source for
high resolution printable file!
There are many changes afoot in our world at this time. "Evil" (regardless of how you define that term) IS afoot! We need to align ourselves strongly, as I see things, with the Earth, its creatures and elements and with each other as fellow beings. We need to stand with those who protect the earth and with each other. 

Yule, Winter solstice, comes tomorrow but in truth there are three nights of 15h13m length here in Maine: tonight, tomorrow and the following. (For what it's worth, summer solstice has two days at 15h36m. I have to research and figure out why the discrepancy!)  And though you watch like a hawk, I bet you will not be able to discern a lengthening of the day for some time to come. Our ancestors did not recon time to the second and likely not even to the minute. So the "12 day of..." feels to me somewhat like the Mayan "day(s) out of time." Tradition holds that women do not spin. We are supposed to have our homes in order (I hope I will be forgiven on this account this year!) and take some time to make offerings to land spirits and ancestors.
36" Natural Balance
hex sign

24" Welcome (Wilkom)
hex sign
The sun on the breast
of the hard crusty snow
gave the luster of
glare ice to all down below.
Here at Hex Central and Fussing Duck farm, we just posted the last two hex sign orders for the year. I have one more to work on, a gift for a beloved friend, so I do not feel it a desecration of this time to work on it. We have done all our errands in town for the next couple of weeks (I hope, at least) and will be spending the 12 days happily ensconced at the farm. Winter here in central Maine began pushing on autumn with a vengeance recently, leaving the land covered with a layer of snow topped with ice. It's been interesting trying to keep the fowl, goats and guardian dog watered, as the temperatures have been well below freezing and plummeting quite low at night and some days, especially when you figure in the wind chill. We ARE on a rise, remember?

But as we hunker down, we also give thanks for warmth, a full pantry, and many friends far and wide. Whatever you celebrate at this time, may you find at least a modicum of peace and inspiration. Blessed Be.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Hunting Moon

Yesterday I wrote:
The primal world is close today. Wind, which I normally enjoy, even howling 'round the eaves, has a fell edge about it. (And my words are writing themselves, for I had started to write "has a FEEL of...") The Hunt was riding by, for sure; the goats, who normally take to their shed overnight, awakened me with many loud yells, though no mortal predator was about, for even the guardian dog stayed quiet and in his hut. K was up (getting ready for his early appointment) and had lit the fire, so I arose. I huddled close to Firelight, in the dark, with Frigga's candle burning on the altar and my Yule Fuel cup in hand, awaiting the rising of the sun. Even the kerosene lamps were hard to start this morning (you know, I think, that I do not use "man-light" in the hours before the sun); I did finally get a couple lit. There will be wick trimming and refilling on the list today, as well as other mundane chores. I hope to take advantage of the cold in the back room, as I need to complete re-sorting of the contents of the freezers; it will be easier to do this on a cold day, when I can easily open them all at the same time and make sure one holds meat, one "boughten" foods and the large one has all our fruits and veggies. It is time, as well, to soak the stalks for making the Yule Goat!

I feel sad for those who are so tied into the modern life, so divorced from the seasons and the natural world, that they must go about life as if today was the same as yesterday and will be the same on the morrow. Perhaps some feel a bit -- unsettled -- and wonder why. Most likely they attribute it to that extra bit of food or drink last evening, or the stress of the holidays, or working in retail, if they take note at all. Maybe a few might consider the chance of a disturbing, though unremembered, dream.

We throw up lights everywhere in this season, but no longer remember why. We light streets and yards as if to shame the sun into shining day and night, and forget the need for balance. We manufacture scary stuff for October's end, and never feel the real spirits flying by on the winds that only begin with summer's end.
 One theme that keeps returning to my thoughts, as I seek to walk in harmony with the natural world is Balance. You have likely seen me write that balance is dynamic, not static. There is the cycle of long nights/short days which morphs through a time when the light and dark seem the same length (but on they day of most equal balance, here in my neck of the woods, there is 1 minute difference on March 17 -- day is 12h1m and night 11h59m -- and even though the most even time in September, the 25th, shows both at 12h, I am betting that to the second, there is a difference) and then to the opposite as the summer give us short nights and longer days, which are most appreciated by this busy farmer. So over the year, balance. And in each day, both light and dark and in the world, both light and dark, especially when we can leave behind the human artifices. In the day, we can find shadow in the woods and in the night, there may be a moon or even when he is dark, with good night vision, one can see the path by starlight.

The changes of the dynamic balancing act can work to fuel us, as the universe pumps us up and down like we might work the handle on a well pump. It can also work to recharge us, as happened to me last night/this morning, when I very uncharacteristically slept a full 12 hours. "You must have needed it" was something I heard more than once, and I guess I did, for try as I might, I am still a bit more connected to the never changing times that the modern world dictates.

I am feeling more and more called to be inside once darkness falls, and mostly I managed it. Mostly. But not completely, for Nautical twilight, the time when most stars can be easily seen with naked eyes, and hence, "darkness", arrives here just after 5 pm here these days and at the very least, I go to collect waste food at 4:30 once a week. Which means, at the earliest, I am headed home AFTER dark. And which will continue to happen, but I am consciously working on keeping my away missions to the daylight hours this winter to see what changes that will bring.

So why did I title this article "hunting moon?" Deer hunting season has ended but seasons are still open for much of the smaller game but that is, for better or worse, not part of my current world. Instead it is the Wild Hunt, the energy of which I felt yesterday, and my Livestock Guardian Dog having bagged a rat that most stick in my mind at this time. Were I living in a different time, or even a wee bit of a different lifestyle, I WOULD be hunting, though. The snow having fallen makes tracking easier for me. I have been keeping tabs on the "rat trails" as I plan to put out deadly bait for them and I have checked on other footprints coming near the fowl pens, easily determining they are from our own domestic cat and dog and not wandering neighborhood beasts, or wild ones, in search of sustenance.

This moon cycle ends on Dec 29, so soon I will be hunting up all the things that need new homes, as well as collecting our trash for the dump. With the mundane holidays affecting schedules, I make note that we may not have an open dump day on Saturday, which is the eve of their Christmas and that the next scheduled open day, Dec 28, may be my only, and will be my last shot at "letting go" for this moon cycle and this calendar cycle as well. I will need to allow time, if Wednesday proves to be the only option, as the "first dump day after Christmas" always stands as a testimony to the gross level of conspicuous consumption of our general culture and as such, dumping my single can and droppin a bag of materials to be recycled always involves sitting in an extended line.

As we move into the peak craziness of this time, let me take a moment to urge you to open your senses to the dark, and yes to the spirits that ride the wind... to spend quiet time inside by the fire... to douse your lights and truly feel.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Not sure what it was, ate it anyway.

Yesterday I organized the refrigerator freezer. Normally I have veggies and fruit on one shelf (opposite sides) and meat, cheese, etc on the other, along with a bit of bread stuff but over time, it resorts. It was time to sort again and dig out some of the unlabeled what's its to thaw and identify.

This time I found a couple of containers of of cooked pinto beans, and two smaller containers of undetermined contents, which looked like they contained beans, but had other stuff as well. Those I let thaw, to better determine what they were.

In the end, thawing, and even tasting, did nothing to clear up the mystery. The stuff was beanish brown, like refried beans, but contained whole beans and some thing that tasted and textured like ground beef, crumbled and fried while fresh, not thawed and crumbled after being frozen. The latter method makes for larger bits in the mix. I spotted a few bits of onion and green pepper, but not nearly as much as I would have put in chili. Also, while I don't make "three alarm" chili, I DO put chili powder in, and this offered no such taste.

My first thought was leftovers from a taco/toastada meal, mixed together as starter for bean dip with chips, but the quantity (TWO containers) made that an unlikely scenario.

The contents and texture of the stuff, however, did lend a meal idea and -- after mashing the beans a bit more thoroughly, adding a bit of flour to thicken and chili powder and the last half of a large garlic clove for added flavor, it made a decent filling for the burritos and toastadas we had for supper this evening.

And I liberated two smallish glass freezer containers as well as some space in the freezer.

Tomorrow I will attack the fridge for other leftover meals. I know we have a supper-size portion of scalloped cabbage with ham (made with purple cabbage, left over from last night) and some mashed potatoes (from the night before, which will likely become potato patties with eggs for tomorrow's breakfast) but what else lurks just shy of becoming a science experiment? Only tomorrow will tell!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Gotta love that Old Roo Stew

In the tradition of my frugal German ancestors, and a long line of homestead families, we do our best not to be "waste-y." So when the decision was made a while back to cull one of our three dueling roosters (two of whom timed their "battle of the doodle-doos" for between midnight and 3 AM) we did not try to find an old rooster home for him to go to, nor did we dispatch him to bury or feed to the coyotes or the dump. JR (yes they are named) was sent off to "freezer camp" with the intention of seeing him at a later date with the crock pot or pressure cooker.

In each iteration of homesteading (I have gone "back to the land" three times now, in CO, WA and now here in Maine) I have raised both animals and vegetables for food and processed both from beginning to end by my own hand. The tradition of self-reliance runs through my veins, though it seemed to have skipped my mother's generation. A "thoroughly modern Millie," we have a family story about her inability to process the fresh (as in still living) chicken she bought to make a special dinner for my dad, when he came home from the Navy for a visit. She ended up with her landlord taking pity on her and doing the deed.

Many years after my mom's WWII-era butchering fail, my oldest daughter, not even three years old at the time, insisted on my immediately butchering her (previously) pet rooster after he bit her finger. She would not wait for her dad to come home to mind her and her little sister, just a babe in arms. No, she insisted I had to do it putting both girls in their little red wagon and having secured the doomed fowl, off we went to designated area. I explained to her what to expect and dispatched the bird. Though I had explained, I guess it was just a bit much for a youngster to comprehend the post-butchering muscle spasms that are the root of the "chicken with its head cut off" aphorism. She thought it was able to -- and going to -- bite her again but was quickly calmed when I showed her the head, opened its beak and poked my finger in; of course she had to do the same and was kept happily occupied while the bird finished its flapping. I completed the process, with her help in plucking and the baby in a back pack, but rather than allowing the bird to age even a day in the 'fridge, she insisted on my cooking it for dinner that night. It was with great relish that she bit into her drumstick serving and crowed "I get the LAST BITE!"

Fortunately, JR did get some aging before being frozen, though a two year old rooster will never be as tender as the proverbial spring chicken! I planned, like I said above, to cook the meat down for chicken-and (noodles or dumplings are most common in our house) but I accidentally grabbed this package of meat to thaw, not realizing what fowl it contained. Yesterday I had planned to cook breast strips for Tractor Guy while I cooked up some delightful organic beef liver I had been given. I am a liver-lover; he is not. So imagine my dismay when I discovered the "tender" breast meat I was instead meat of the old roo!

I managed an adequate save by pounding it well with my meat mallet, flouring and frying it much more slowly than usual. Fortunately TG is NOT picky about his food! I immediately put the legs into the slow cooker to prep for use with dumplings, which will be supper tonight. The dogs got the organs and skin when I butchered and the bones will go to the garden to add calcium, eventually. Slow cooker bones do seem to break down quickly.

So waste not, want not and the old roo will have fed us three times (half of the cooked breast meat is in the fridge for another go-round)...though the last laugh may be on us. Tractor Guy was up hours before dawn this morning and reports that Red (this year's hatched rooster and Newton (JR's precessor) were engaged in their own battle of the doodle-do.

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 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 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.