Doesn’t Happen Every Day
April 4, 2014 § 7 Comments
Yesterday, I collected 21 eggs from 19 hens which, if my math is correct, means there were two more eggs than we have chickens. There is no surer sign of spring than getting more eggs than you have chickens.
This morning at 7, Rye and I pulled the sap gathering sled down to the big maples. It was 20-degrees and our boots left only the faintest sign of our passing in the frozen snow. We could walk anywhere without punching through. Because we could, we ran in big loops. We jumped up and down and still we didn’t punch through. There wasn’t as much sap as I’d hoped – the trees are taking their time loosening up after the deep cold – so we left the sled and buckets down the field for later and raced back to the house. I went inside and Rye got out his bike and took off across Melvin’s field atop the snow, which is still at least 18-inches deep. Like riding on water. I should’ve gotten on my bike too, but I didn’t.
We’re about halfway through the first boil. We fired up our little rig yesterday and I fixed a broken extension cord so we run power to the blower we prop up in the opening of the ash clean out door. We’re gonna make us some syrup this year. Not as much as last year, I’m certain of that, but some. A few gallons, anyway.
I guess it was a hard winter. I read it was the coldest March on record. I read it was the second coldest February-March on record. There was a period when it felt hard to me. That was a few weeks ago, when the boys were sour and sat around listlessly flipping through their trapping catalogs and books, reading and rereading. When he wasn’t scheming the future demise of fur bearers, Fin wore his electric guitar, playing along unplugged to an endless loop of Waylon Speed. He is developing a decent ear. I’m glad for that.
We didn’t go anywhere this year. We don’t go anywhere any years, though during that same period a few weeks back when winter felt hard, we fantasized a bit about where we’d go if we did go, even as we knew we wouldn’t. Couldn’t, really, given the associated expense and all the complications of leaving this place. I know it’s stupid, but there’s a part of me that’s a little proud of sticking it out, as if I were some rugged pioneer on the plains, huddled around the stove gnawing stale wheaten cakes with my malnourished family. But still: The coldest March on record and we were here for every friggin’ 10-below morning of it, milking bare handed in the open-sided barn, flipping the metaphorical bird to that vast, unrelenting mass of arctic air. And believe you me, it was a metaphorical raised middle finger, if only because our hands were too damn cold to raise it for real.
So here we are. We made it, by gum. Enough firewood, though just barely. Enough hay, though just barely. The sap is running, though just barely. It’ll start running hard real soon. Tray upon tray of seedlings, little emblems of faith in our future on this land. The animals all fat and sleek. My stupid, small-minded pride at having stuck it out for the entirety of another winter, and a real one, at that. 21 eggs from 19 hens.
And me and my boy walking on water. That sure doesn’t happen every day.