Friday, January 11, 2013

Winter Chores

I guess it is official, the holiday season is over. How do I know? Well, the Christmas tree is packed up, my calendar is new and my clothes seem to have shrunk. I don’t know what happens in November and December but somehow those two months make my clothes shrink. There couldn’t be any other explanation for it.
So now the holidays are over and winter has set in. I have heard that this is the time of the year causes a spike in depression. It makes sense, you mix in a letdown after the holidays, less sunshine and the winter blahs and it can get a person down. That may be true for some but not me, I love the routine of winter chores. Do you think I am crazy? Well, probably so, but I do have sound reasoning (at least in my mind).
I admit it is a little hard to pull myself away from my morning coffee, put on the coveralls and take that first step out into the sharp winter air. However, after the initial jolt, the cold air is really refreshing; it clears your head and gets the blood moving. Winter mornings have a special stillness that makes the world seem more at peace. The stillness is permeated with the crunch, crunch of your footsteps in the snow.
Those crunching footsteps bring the barnyard to life and soon the livestock are breaking the stillness with their anticipation of feed to come. Animals wait, steam coming off of their coats and out of their mouths.  There is something therapeutic about feeding livestock in the winter. I am not sure if it is the satisfaction of knowing the livestock in your care are well cared for and fed or just the relief of having all the feeders full, but it is something I enjoy.
Finally, there are few feelings as good as walking into the house, after a long morning of winter chores, only to step up next to the wood stove with a hot cup of coffee. Nothing feels better than wood heat on a frosty morning. That is why I enjoy my chosen profession. Of course, the other reason I enjoy my chosen profession is because in due time I know this will all change.
Soon the awe of winter will turn into the *^$(*%# of winter. Give me a couple of dead batteries, a tractor that won’t start and a couple of inches of mud and the winter wonderland won’t be so wondrous. The tickle of the sharp winter air will turn into a slap and the still mornings will give way to a howling wind. My livestock that seemed so grateful will soon turn to needy beggars with insatiable appetites. Those feeders will never be full.
I guess what I am trying to say (in my round-about, wordy way) is that the changing of seasons is one of the things I really enjoy about agriculture. We are either enjoying a new season of the year or anticipating the next season to come. We know each season has good and bad. Winter brings snow, crisp air and a slower pace, but it also has frozen pipes, balky equipment and frozen feet. Summer has growing crops, cool evenings and window down driving but along with that are scorching days, dusty winds and hot steering wheels.
I would guess the diversity of working conditions and the challenges each season brings is one of the things that attract most of us to farming and ranching. We could work in a climate controlled office, but that is not who we are. We find something satisfying about facing the elements each day to do a job that demands our attention each day, regardless of the conditions.
I look forward to each season and winter is no different. Well, as long as I have a supply of wood for my stove, coffee and insulated boots, winter will continue to be a great season. At least it will be for another week or two. I will enjoy winter chores (for now) and look forward to lambing and calving season with anticipation. Then it will be time for the warm winds of spring.

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