Autumnal Equinox

Friday, September 23, 2011

It’s September 23rd, the fall equinox slowly jogs across the southern sky towards a time when day and night seem to become equal. From here on days will become a little shorter, the sun will linger a little less; night will come a little sooner.

We’re in an Indian summer here. Not wholly unexpected for our area. The days are warmer than usual and the nights hang still, not a breath of wind blows across our parched farm. I long for the damp cool fog that rolls in from the coast forcing us to wear a sweater while attending to night time chores. It serves as a reminder that October isn’t far off, my favorite time of year.

As the sky turns dusky behind me my mind turns to last winter—long and cold with rain that lasted well into spring. It was not bad, but preparations were not up to par for a winter that lasted so long. It’s September though and we already have 3 cords of firewood stacked. One more will be collected and brought in before the weather turns.

The final market lamb has been sold off. Unlike last year when timing and delays with the butcher forced us to feed lambs well into October, a costly and time consuming proposition.

We will be going into winter with a freezer full of lamb and chicken, along with a larder full of summer’s bounty. The barn will be empty of meat animals, unlike last year when Sandy and I butchered chickens right after the New Year. Cold doesn’t even begin to describe our adventure. Only the laying hens, Sophia, our goose, and one rabbit will join us this winter.

There is still much to do though. The new raised beds are only half finished and the coop and barn still need to be dug out, the contents of which will be the base soil for fall planted onions and garlic, and early spring peas and greens. There’s a barn window to replace and a goose-size nesting box to build. Lamb pens need to be dismantled and re-arranged to accommodate a feeder pig come spring. For most of the year, my entire garden area served as an exercise pen for Brianne’s lambs. But, not now. The wilderness that has grown up will be pulled out or cut down to make way for a greenhouse and new vegetable beds.

The thought of all this work, with winter breathing down my neck, makes me feel uneasy and more tired than usual. But, even I have to admit that cleaning barns and building vegetable beds is a pretty dam nice way to fill a plate. It keeps me grounded. Keeps me busy. Keeps me happy.

Everything will get done—somehow. And, in the end, winter will come and we will be ready for it. You’ll see, a few weeks from now I’ll be baking bread in my kitchen while a storm stirs outside my window. Just you wait and see. Just you wait.

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