Like Sails in the Wind

Saturday, March 19, 2011

wind power

The wind this week has been like a gale blowing in off an angry east coast sea. The kind of gusts that make you think your house (or barn) will lift off and fly away like some kind of surreal scene from The Wizard of Oz. The temperatures though have been oddly warm, mid-50’s on some days, which sends contradictions through my brain. Every structure on the farm was swaying and bowing to the winds force. In the dark still of night you could hear the wind howling through our valley. Far in east, then through distant trees until it came closer and louder…sending shivers through you as the sound of branches breaking rang out like gunfire. When you’re out in it each blast of wind comes at you like an angry wave, ready to bowl you over. Your face feels chapped and your hair blows every which direction. Lips chapped from previous winter storms are chapped even more.

Over and over the wind rolled down onto the farm like this. We were in full batten down the hatches mode, making sure everyone was inside their barn abode. The dogs do not go out on nights like these. Instead we all ate our dinners indoors, listening to the wind race over a jet black sky, trees casting eerie shadows that swayed like ghosts with every gust. What a show.

Feeding the animals in wind like this is hard and time consuming. Buckets of grain seem heavier, water seems to run slower and just moving animals is complicated and labor intensive. They seem out of sorts and unsure of where to go. So instead, of feeding grain first then hay as a second course, the lambs are all feed together with grain piled high on a bed of hay. The hens will get a second trough for mash that will tide them over for several days and every water bucket will be filled to overflowing. Hopefully, the wind will be gone by then.

The hens will get another layer of straw in their nesting boxes and as litter on the coop floor. I wanted the barn as comfortable as possible, as the wind whipped at us all through the little 12×24 building. I prayed the roof wouldn’t lift off like an Apollo spacecraft or the weathervane, now spinning wildly, would fly through the air like some kind of Ninja Worrier weapon. All around me the lambs, chickens, even the rabbit seemed quite content and calm in their domesticated dwelling, while I checked for the hundredth time that the structure was solid and secure.

Every morning after, when I see that little barn still standing I breath a little easier, sigh a little deeper and thank God a little longer. When I walk outside to check on any damage the lambs emerge, feisty and full of energy; and the hens have clearly been scratching and clucking around since dawn. They look at me with quizzative faces. Storm? What storm? All I can do is stand there and stare, a little barn that three women built by hand has made it through yet another stormy night, keeping its inhabitants safe and warm. I place my hands on my hips, shaking my head slightly from side-to-side. A smile comes over me. This is a fine sight.

Warmth came today. Really. Nearly 60 degrees of sun and clear skies and no wind, just a quiet calming breeze. Standing outside with Dutch and Dakota looking over a wind whipped farm I could hear the faint sound of a night owl, off in the distance. Then came the low tender coos from the doves that live across the street. The sound was of spring trying to break through and fend off a long cold winter. It was poetry that floated on a breeze. As the sun sank below the hills, the glow of the house caught my eye. I turned and stared at it. It looked weather beaten and tired. Branches and leaves lay on its roof, debris blown in from the storm was strewn around its edges, unable to move any farther. Grey white smoke from the chimney swirled delicately into the dusk. It was picturesque, a proud beacon that showed its strength. She was still here. We were still here, our band of four and a menagerie of farm animals had made it through another winter.

Dakota snuggled up next to me then flopped on his back hoping for a belly rub. Dutch was off somewhere investigating the chickens. As I stood there, calm and relieved that we hadn’t suffered any damage from the winter storms, I felt light. My soul was floating out here amongst the bleating lambs and landmines of chicken poo. Another winter was coming to an end and the farmer in me was full ready for spring.

I needed this breather today, time to slow down, take a long deep breath and come home to a warm fire and the sounds of slow melodic music wafting from the stereo. Add to that a warmer windless day and you’ve got a suburban homesteader crouched and ready to pounce on warm garden soil. In a few weeks there will be peas, spinach, lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower in the ground, followed by beans, potatoes and squash. Soon we’ll be hiking the surrounding hills under a sun filled sky. It will take time to recharge and it begins tonight with a hearty meal of homegrown chicken, a good book and a full night’s sleep.

Take that, Old Man Winter!!

Creative Commons License photo credit: Gosha P

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