Thursday, January 23, 2014

On the Farm - Winter's Pause

Tiny sprouts of kale starting to show themselves

We are in the spell of another cold snap here in Central North Carolina. We got a bit of snow the other night (not but barely an inch), the ground has frozen up pretty well, and some of the snow has stuck around. Tonight is another cold night (which means around 10 degrees Fahrenheit for us), so we're hunkering down and trying to figure out what other things to accomplish.

It makes me think of the following poem by Wendell Berry entitled, "To Know the Dark":

                                                 To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
                                                 To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
                                                 and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
                                                 and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

The screeching halt of a cold night and frigid day stops concrete work, freezes the chicken's water, and limits our ability to work the soil. There is movement in the cold though, and there is growth. We have started seeds in the greenhouse and they are emerging from their little pockets of earth. As in the photo above, we have things that are starting to bear themselves above the earth, and as exampled by our carrots from the other week, still have things that are in harvest.

Chickens frolicking in the straw
When it snows, I always find myself being contemplative (perhaps going into "the dark") because I think of the hush that a blanket of snow puts on the world (not that a blanket of snow comes to this part of NC that often). This gives me a few spare moments to watch the chickens a little closer when we give them a bed of straw for the cold night and they ravage it to no end in less than five minutes. It also gives me brief moments to step back and look at things we have achieved and projects to come.
Never ending wood splitting
Without the concrete work or the willing frozen ground to till under, we turn to cutting and splitting wood for upcoming kiln firings, and try to tend to the work that always seems endless, but we will get behind in by the middle of the year. May we "catch up" on a few projects before the warmer weather finds us again!

I'll close with one more Wendell Berry poem called "The Cold":

How exactly good it is
to know myself
in the solitude of winter,

my body containing its own
warmth, divided from all
by the cold; and to go

separate and sure
among the trees cleanly
divided, thinking of you

perfect too in your solitude
your life withdrawn into
your own keeping

-to be clear, poised
in perfect self suspension
toward you, as though frozen.

And having known fully the
goodness of that, it will be
good also to melt.

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