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.



§ 7 Responses to Doesn’t Happen Every Day

  • Eumaeus says:

    I like the picture swap. Awesome photo.
    You keep reminding me of that line “The New York Times said it was the coldest winter in 17 years, I didn’t feel so cold then” Hard Times in New York Town, Dylan.
    It feels like we turned a corner down here too.
    Glad you made it through fat and sleek, prideful and mindful.
    Glad you’re raising middle fingers too. Makes me feel less embarrassed about it.
    I had a strange conception of God when I was a child that made me unable to raise my middle finger even when I was alone and no one was watching.

  • Mary says:

    Especially love the last sentence!

  • When the mundane is so remarkable, there is no reason to leave.

  • ncfarmchick says:

    Some people are always trying to escape their lives and you are fully present in yours. Sticking it out sounds a lot more appealing than running away to me. But, then, I’ve been called weird so what do I know? We’re loving the abundance of eggs, too. Could never tire of them, like sunshine on a plate.

  • Amy says:

    Surely it’s the best time of the year, and it’s the best year ever to get to the best time. Spring lettuces from the garden will taste especially sweet this year, thanks to the record-breaking cold. Way to go to sticking it out, and for teaching your sons what to value in life: being steadfast and faithful and for practicing gratitude.

  • Well good! Provided with a sympathetic ear, I tend toward optimism even in my darkest moments. But it’s always good to hear of what feels like the miraculous coming of goodness, it completes the cycle of experience. Whenever I complain to a sympathetic ear, I always try to remember and follow up with the improved status report – out of consideration for the person who gave me the space to gripe. Walking on water, well that ranks pretty high on the scale of miracles – hooray for spring!

  • Vickie says:

    Loved reading this. We have been experiencing much of the same. About 20 eggs a day. Like you we are on the last of the wood. Collecting sap too. Pure profit on the syrup I like to say. The taps were given to us about 10 years ago. We have used the same water/milk jugs for the last 5 years. Each jug gets dumped into a container and stored out the back door until we have room in the three old pots (one is a canning pot) that are slowly boiling on the woodstove. When we have enough that has boiled down we finish it off up on the kitchen stove. It is a slow and methodical process but we get so much out of it. So far this year with 21 trees tapped we have a little over a gallon. Lots of sap still waiting out back too. I took a look at prices here for maple syrup and I figure I will save (if I actually had to buy syrup) about $150.00. By the way we still have a lot of snow still too. I agree, it is satisfying to say we made it through this winter. Now if I can get through the hot months, that will be a feat!

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