As I write this, a fine mist clings to the goat’s house and chicken coop. Larger drops slip through as they gain momentum and gather droplets. It’s 26°f and layers of ice are slowly building up, and are expected to continue clear through dinnertime. A good, solid inch lays over ol’ Rusty-o’s (my truck was named by our youngest) hood. And it begins! It’s winter in Maine.
No matter how much barnyard junk I sort through and pick up it seems a big freeze makes me think of more. Each time I take a walk with the chickens or goats it’s something else that the wind has strewn all over caught in the wood line. The ground is still bare enough for the goats to find the last good grass shoots before a long winter on hay and grain. They follow me around while I clean up and prepare for winter in Maine.
The barnyard did improve from “is that a yard sale” status to several loose tumbleweed grain bags, and scrap lumber from the coop building I ought to have picked up a week ago. Yesterday all the rakes, shovels, hoes and pitchforks were tucked away where ice won’t cling to them.
There is an old pool frame wrapped with chicken wire behind a storage box which used to double as a coop before the new one went up. It’s SO redneck and needs to come down and have its final rights before a passage to the junkyard. The footing is in the ground a bit and winter in Maine will lock it in there, if I don’t drag it out first.
It’s so hard for me to keep up with regular tasks that additional cleaning and organizing is always on the back burner. And let’s face it, cleaning isn’t fun for any sane, normal person.
This past weekend we bought half a pig from a woman Kevin works with. The bacon is exquisite. She gave us all the hog lard and some tallow to make soap with. Soap making has been on a back burner for nearly a month too. Cheesemaking isn’t my forte. It never becomes the cheese I want it to. Surprise cheese is still good and all—but it’s disappointing. Maybe winter in Maine will push me into improving my cheesemaking. Though the goats will have much less milk than in spring and summer. The lactation curve will be toward the end.
I’m hoarding a heap of soap until I have enough of all different kinds to be able to steadily sell on our website based on stock not having to make it constantly. Last hatching season I began only listing available hatching egg stock and stopped taking pre orders towards the end.
Birds are fickle and can go on strike at anytime. Damn union workers. This spring I plan to only sell limited chicken breeds since cutting back. Ameraucana, Maran, Olive Egger and Polish chickens made my final cut. Terrible pun, wow. I took some time already by either preparing roosters for freezer camp or by giving some less-prized hens to good friends to simplify and overall reduce our flock size. All of this prep for winter in Maine will make the cold morning trudging through snow with buckets of water go more smoothly.
No waterfowl or Guinea Fowl here anymore to mess around with. Less housing, less feed, less chores, less profit-loss. We have had to hyper-focus our livestock. At first I was apprehensive, but since slowly dropping breeds and domestic species here it’s become a relief. I feel like the chores zip right along now. To help the constant wintertime water-hauling, the goats will be moved near the house. I will need to swap out the chicken’s water still when it freezes—but that’s a lot less.
The rabbit dishes were some serious time-suck work. Each adult rabbit was housed separately. This meant little plastic water dishes had to be dropped in a bucket of hot water to deice then dipped full of the then-chilled water. In the coldest of days I’d have to do it three times and check for fear they were dumped and a rabbit would go thirsty.
I’m considering other crafts to keep me occupied over the dark months of Maines’ winters. I love the snow but the dark is hard to live with—especially for Kevin who works until five and never has daylight left for projects he needs to wrap up outside.
Before I came along to whisk him down the mucky isle, he was seriously considering moving to North Carolina. Well, when I proposed to him that plan fizzled out. Poor guy. He only married me for my sexy tractor!