The Mud Season

 Arthur and June go out of their way to slosh through the muddy tractor ruts.

Arthur and June go out of their way to slosh through the muddy tractor ruts.

Hopefully the worst of winter is behind us, and we can start looking forward to Spring. But between now and then is a whole lot of mud.  I like to think of it as a fifth season just after winter, kind of like the Russian "rasputitsa." Mud so deep and thick it swallows your boot and holds your foot in place. A few years ago my mother-in-law lost a whole rubber boot to the mud around their barn lot and we didn't find it for three months. Not everyone seems to mind the mud, judging from the way my son caked himself in it like Arnold at the end of PREDATOR.

Aside from the mud we've been making preparations for spring around The Farmstead. Our seeds came in from Baker Creek. I spent this afternoon pruning our fruit trees. And all around little bits of green are beginning to poke up through the mud.

The Long Winter

 Anna doesn't mind the snow with her big shaggy coat.

Anna doesn't mind the snow with her big shaggy coat.

After several mild winters we have been welcomed back to reality by a month of snow and near zero temperatures.  January started with one of the coldest stretches I can remember as we rarely got above single digits while spending a lot of time at or below zero. The creek froze all the way through, so I was out chopping ice in the water tank twice a day to keep the cattle hydrated. Luckily we have lots of hay to feed, and the cold doesn't bother our Highlands much with their massive shaggy coats.

We've been reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Long Winter aloud to the children before bed. It helps put our winter in perspective as we sip our hot coffee under a pile of blankets on the couch, thankful for the warmth of our home. This bit seemed especially beautiful.

β€œIt can't beat us!" Pa said.
"Can't it, Pa?" Laura asked.
"No," said Pa. "It's got to quit sometime and we don't. It can't lick us. We won't give up."
Then Laura felt a warmth inside her. It was very small but it was strong. It was steady, like a tiny light in the dark, and it burned very low but no winds could make it flicker because it would not give up.”