Magnetic North: Hard To Get Away

Goat by abejorro34 on Flickr
Goat by abejorro34 on Flickr

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 Welcome back to Magnetic North, where the skies are full of wonder - and I’m not just talking Santa here.

We had your meteor showers, your full moon, your total lunar eclipse and let’s not forget the much anticipated winter solstice, the hump day of winter. The latter may not light up the skies in any noticeable way, but let’s be clear - the mere addition of a minute or two of daylight from now on is huge in this latitude.

The gloom of early winter seems to be over as well, making it easy to heat the house just by opening the south-facing window drapes. The scene that greets me when I do this is pure magic, We live in a veritable snow globe in this part of the world. Christmas trees outnumber all other varieties and all of ours are flocked in gorgeous soft snow flakes. This most recent snow is the down comforter type. You know, the type of snow that is more fluff than uffda on the shovel. The type that softens sound and catches every precious drop of sunlight.

With all of the above, MY stocking is overflowing this year.

As if that wasn’t enough, I have been zinging around the farm on my Norwegian Spark kick sled for weeks. Fetching the mail, hauling buckets of warm water to the goats and chickens, and on most nights, gliding down the driveway late at night when the stars are brightest. It helps that I prefer cold to heat. That monochromatic landscapes delight my eye. And that driving anywhere is pretty much optional at this point in life.

The critters seem just as pleased with winter. My flock of chickens has recovered their mojo after a brutal fox attack last month. Most days they gift me with five beautiful brown eggs - as well as a chorus of clucking. There ARE challenges to keeping birds in this weather. Windows that need to be open a bit for ventilation often freeze shut. And defrosting buckets of yucky used water in the house is, well, yucky. Still, a small price to pay for the rewards.

The goats are positively psyched by snow. They shoot out of the barn every morning, vying for a place at the six pans of hay and grain scattered about the corral. Each day I put the feeding stations farther from the barn doors, just to encourage the goats to pack down the snow all over. As soon as chow is gone, all six - Bunny, Bosco, Daisy, Dolly, Harte and Poppy - wriggle through the fence wires and teeter along the skinny path to the house. The goal is to find the garage door ajar and raid the feed cans.

Summer, our ravishing brunette llama is the least pleased with the weather. It’s her fault, really, since she has taken to escaping the corral and so has earned herself mega-jailtime this month. Ditto the three white geese and Tommy Turkey. All honk and gobble with outrage when I attempt to coop them up after only eight hours of fun in the snow and sun. I am happy to report that last summer’s gosling has begun laying big white eggs, just like her mama. Another major gift for a girl who lives to bake stuff.

People often ask us if having these critters makes it “hard to get away.” Used to be, I’d explain that many friends and neighbors are happy to do a chore or two for a short stint and in a pinch we have always been able to hire house sitters. But lately, my answer to those who ask is, “Why would we WANT to get away?” After all, THIS is where we spent decades trying to get away TO every chance we got. So snow that we are here, well, we are blessedly content to just stay put and enjoy the view,

May you be similarly blessed this holiday season and for all the days to come. No other gifts will ever be needed. I guarantee.

Airdate: December 26, 2010

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