on winter and homesickness.

 

It is cold and desolate around these parts.

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I am looking forward to the season of holiday visitors. It’ll brighten this place for me, as I remember longingly all the summer friends who shared our home and broke bread with us. The workload has yet to lighten, and the promised winter farm « cards and coffee » season has yet to really make its appearance. The novelty of heating this home with our wood stove has worn off, as has wearing long johns all the time.

I took the day yesterday and drove myself to the city. No small feat as I’ve only been driving, and driving standard, for some eight months now. It was my second time going it without another adult, and the first time sans kiddo. There were no close calls, no missed highway exits, and no overwhelmed teary traffic moments. I parked on a residential street and went to sit in a busy café, ordered a hot organic beverage without feeling like a weirdo, and took in the very pleasant and very familiar feeling of being in a crowd, unconcerned about seeming friendly enough or welcoming enough. Being both mildly interesting and uninteresting to those around is a real treat. I hadn’t realized how exhausting small town shopping was for me until yesterday. (And this begs the question : have introverted people found ways of living rurally and happily without resorting to becoming hermits?) I took in the joy of jaywalking, the pleasure of having quick friendly conversations with acquaintances, and being able to walk to cross a number of errands off a to-do list.

I realize now I’m quite city-homesick.

I think living in a mighty and in many ways unforgiving landscape requires that you either muster that same feeling of might in yourself, or that you foster a great humility of your person (ideally both). I remember feeling this as I lived near the Atlantic some years ago. But both the might and humility require much resilience, and mine feels very frayed right now.

 

 

On another note, a hen died yesterday. I was pretty devasted. One of our original four. The one that had been badly injured by a neighbour’s dog. Her feathers hadn’t really grown back, as they have on the other who was mauled. I don’t know if it was the result of the injury or the cold. I can’t seem to find authoritative information on keeping hens warm enough in our Canadian winter. Some sources seem pretty cavalier, some very unpractical.

The hens are in the barn, with plenty of straw, out of wind’s way, and with a heated waterer, but I worry it isn’t enough. I’ll add a big wooden nesting box to facilitate cozying up and try to see if there’s a way of getting a heating lamp in there without it being high up on the ceiling (and thus useless). Up until now, I haven’t used a light, because they get all the daylight we do from the coop and from what I understand it’s to stimulate egg production moreso than for hen wellbeing and really, if they need a break from production to stay warm and keep their energies, that is more than fine by me.

What sucks about all of this is, because it hasn’t been financially viable for farmers to call veterinarians about hen care (as a vet averages at 65$ an hour and most hens cost around 20$), it is hard to find vets who know about hens. If we housed cats in that coop, we’d have no problem having them seen by professionals.

Perhaps I should just knit them all ponchos to assuage this feeling of guilt.