By CHRISTINE TAILER
I was thankful for the cold weather. It brought with it one of my favorite pastimes, sitting in the rocker by the wood stove, soaking up the heat, at the end of a long winter day, but more pragmatically, it brought with it the ease of walking across the frozen ground to do the animal chores. With the earth frozen hard, there is no longer any need to pull my stuck boot heels up out of the sticky mud with each step.
There is no longer any need to hose my boots off at the front porch spigot before going inside to quickly retrieve the egg basket, or the log tote, or something else that I might have forgotten before I ventured out. I was thankful for the cold weather.
So just yesterday, I bundled up and went outside to do the animal chores. I left my slippers by the front porch door and slid my toes down inside my tall rubber boots. I filled the old watering can and headed out to the pigeon coop and goat yard. Greg gathered the rabbit bottles and chicken waterer to thaw and then fill.
I marveled at the crisp outlines of our many footprints in the frozen mud. Perfectly etched chicken toes surrounded the chicken coop.
The soft pads of the dogs’ feet blanketed the cold ground between the back of the cabin and the sugar shed where they retrieve their farm dog toys from a half barrel – toys that they have found washed down with the creek. Walking across the frozen ground was a joy, but as I moved through the chores, my cheeks began to burn with the chill of the almost single digit temperature.
I placed my gathered chicken eggs inside my fleece jacket pockets, and in no time I could feel the chill of the eggs seeping through to my waist. The tips of my fingers had begun to feel as frozen as the ground, and I began to wish for warmer weather.
Well, wishes often do come true, and this morning, when I woke up and looked out the cabin window at the temperature gauge, I smiled when I thankfully saw that the sun was shining, and it was just above freezing. I stepped out onto the front porch and slid my toes down inside my tall rubber farm boots. I carefully avoided the muddy ground as I stood on the creek rocks that surround the frost free spigot as the watering can filled, and then, full bucket in hand, I stepped off into the mud.
The once crisp chicken footprints squished out to the side of my boots with each step. My heels once again sunk into the soft mud, and when I pulled my foot forward for the next step, I felt a gentle reluctance as the ground tried to inhibit my forward movement and hold me in place. I grew warm, and then hot, as I continued with the chores. I unzipped the front of my fleece jacket and put my gloves in my back pockets, and finally, when my
chores were done, I returned to the cabin’s front porch steps. Halfway up, I realized that I had not rinsed off my boots.
I shook my head as I saw that the bottom steps were now covered with muddy foot prints. As I stood at the spigot rinsing off my boots, I found myself curiously wishing for colder weather. Two muddy dogs bounded past me, and stood shaking off clumps of mud by the cabin door.
I wished that I could teach them to rinse off by the front spigot, but then, I suppose that not all wishes do come true.
Perhaps I will just wish for colder weather tomorrow.
Christine Tailer is an attorney who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at straightcreekvalleyfarm.com.[[In-content Ad]]