Sunday, February 14, 2010

Get this Snow off the Ground!

It seems I can't keep up with how many snow storms we've had this year - four, I think? Each time we get uncovered and back into a routine, we get slammed again. Last weekend, it was mostly ice, causing power outages in most of the county (our house included), and trapping POSSLQ at the grocery store for 36 hours. Fear not, I had plenty of candles, my new spinning wheel, several good books, and warm propane heat. I was quite cozy for most of the storm.

In fact, I've loved having so much snow this year... except that it keeps POSSLQ stuck at work most of the time. Other than that, it's been great. The landscape looks so much more beautiful in the winter with snow on the ground, and I just keep thinking about how much moisture and nutrients this is returning to the ground. Plus, the freezing and thawing helps the biological processes in the soil, I've been told.

But now, as we creep into spring, my garden plot is covered in snow. The flower beds I dug out last fall are covered in snow. The compost pile is covered in snow. The chicken run is covered in snow, and all my early spring plans have been put on hold until all this melts. I can't shear my rabbit for fear of more frigid nights, and he looks so cozy in his three months of growth. Bulbs that were supposed to go in the ground weeks ago haven't because of the constant cover of snow.

The past few days I've been letting the snow get me down - each time I trek out to the chicken coop, I have to pull on my boots so my feet don't get soaked. Getting back and forth to the bunny barn is a challenge as well, and I'm just tired of battling frozen water bottles and buckets. Even though I'm having a great time with Tillie, I'm (dare I say it?) almost bored of spinning, and I think I'm suffering a little cabin fever.

But hope springs up yet - yesterday I witnessed the first sign of spring - a sheep shearing. My spinning buddy, Liz, and I traversed a mildly treacherous, partly frozen, winding back road into Liberty, NC, to pick out some beautiful Corriedale fleeces from a (somewhat) local farm. I ended up with 8 lb of lovely white corriedale from a ewe named Jenna - I plan to blend this with some angora and do some hand dyeing. Then we picked out a fleece to split from Molly - a very dark morrit sheep with nearly black parts, and beautiful crimp and luster. The shepherdess told us how the weather affects the sheep - and this past year was great weather for growing wool! The early cold snaps and prolonged winter encourage long staple length, and lots of green grass in the summer means less hay feeding, and less vegetable matter stuck in the fleece.

I came home from the shearing feeling invigorated - even though the wind chilled me to the bone yesterday, I felt uplifted, and hopeful that spring will come soon.

And today, I got my second hint that spring is near. As I was sweeping some snow from the deck, I heard quite a bit of chattering coming from the hen house. When I went out to see what was causing the fuss, Lydia was standing in the door, telling me all about the egg in the nest box! My first egg in about three months - imagine my surprise! The girls slowed down their laying considerably when the days started shortening in the fall, and had stopped laying altogether by the winter solstice. Then came freezing temperatures, short daylight, a molting cycle, and many days stuck in the coop with several inches of snow on the ground outside. But over the past few weeks, they have been getting fluffy and plump again, their combs and wattles are getting brighter, and they've become very talkative. It seems the hens think spring is close as well!

The sun is shining brightly today, and I think I will shovel my piles of snow into a few big piles, so I can uncover the areas where I want to work. It was finally warm enough to get the bunny barn cleaned out, which Grimmauld seemed to appreciate very much. Among other outdoor chores, I'm hoping to get the hen house cleaned this week, but now I'm hearing whispers about another snow storm, plus my new, extended hours at work mean less daylight to finish all my chores. I'm afraid I'll fall back into my bleak outlook, and though the seed catalogs have started piling in my mailbox, I fear that spring is still many weeks away.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Guest Blogger

So... POSSLQ got published in the local newspaper this week. An incredible man, one of the most intelligent people I know, with strong convictions and great debating skills, now with words in print. (I guess that sounds a little like a cereal advertisement). When he asked me to proofread, I was so impressed by his thoughts I asked to borrow his words for the blog. He agreed, so here goes...

RE: Politics
By Christopher Owens

I am writing in response to Mr. Griffith’s letter to the editor in last week’s issue of The Enterprise. As I watch the news and try to keep up with the political climate in the country, I can’t help but feel amused - in a very cynical way, but amused nonetheless. The idea that a Republican or Democrat being elected to any office in the land is going to change the way the country works is laughable.
Mr. Griffith said a lot in his article about restoring America. “Let America’s light shine.” That brings the question, what is America? The United States is a business. A well oiled money making machine that benefits a few. Those few own this place, plain and simple. ‘Democrat’ and ‘Republican’ are simply nice words to make us all feel like we have a choice in what’s happening. Smoke and mirrors.
I’m not a socialist and don’t have a problem with capitalism. But let’s get real. It costs money to be a politician. A lot of money. To ensure a house seat, you are looking at one to two million dollars in some areas. The senate can cost up to ten or twenty million and to be president could run up to five hundred million. Now, who gives this money to these people? And do you think they might want something in return?
Political parties are a diversion, folks, plain and simple. I hear a lot of talk about government interference in our lives. This tends to be a conservative platform. Yet in the “2009 Official Virginia Voter Guide“ (which is paid for by The Family Foundation) seven out of ten issues listed dealt with marriage and sexual orientation. Private life stuff. Smoke and mirrors, folks. The idea is to get your attention on stuff that doesn’t matter and that the government doesn’t have any business being involved in. It has no bearing on your life or well being, and they know it. But it will focus your attention on something else.
The economic downfall this country has had wasn’t an accident. Why would it be? It has been very beneficial to those who own the majority of the country. “That’s crazy,” you say. Really? The recession has allowed every company in the United States to cut jobs, wages, and benefits. CEOs and shareholders haven’t lost anything. Overtime, workers’ rights, benefits, and most advancement has become a thing of the past. And we’ve excepted it. Why? Because we’ve been fooled.
We consume at the highest rate of any country in the world. Nobody else is even close. We want cheap, expendable goods even though the cost of that is the loss of industry in the country. Workers in China are doing the same jobs that Patrick County residents did twenty years ago. They do them for a dollar a day. And we line up to buy back those same goods. Ironic, isn’t it? Who’s reaping the multi-billion dollar profits from all this? The same folks who have bought and paid for every elected official in Washington.
Nothing is sacred in our country. Not children, church, government, health care, food, nothing. They have made a multi-billion dollar industry out of you and I being sick. The reason cancer is incurable is because a cure would lose a select few people millions of dollars. More prisons than colleges are built every year in the United States. It’s a big business. I wonder why so many go to jail over non-violent drug crimes. And speaking of college, have you seen what tuition to any school costs nowadays? I would hate to be a college student walking out the door with sixty thousand dollars worth of debt in student loans right now. With no job guarantee, no house, nothing really. That makes for a nice “worker bee” though. Someone who works and keeps quiet. Doesn’t rock the boat because they can’t lose their job.
The whole point is, we work for the system, it doesn’t work for us. Politicians work for those who put money in their pocket, not for the voters. And it doesn’t matter if it’s an R or a D beside their name in the ballot box. If a Republican were in the Oval Office today instead of a Democrat we would be no better off. No more jobs, no better health care, not one bit safer from the scary monsters outside our borders. The evolution of politics has been changed. We no longer have empires, kingdoms, and republics. We have companies and owners. To quote the late, great George Carlin, “It’s a big club…and you ain’t in it.”
I encourage everyone to look at the bigger picture. To be a little cynical when it comes to politics. Trust me, your elected leaders’ first priority is not you. We will all continue to pay the bill and help grease the wheels of this money machine. The reason is simple, the reality is plain. Politics is not here to govern you and the country. Politics is a spoke in the wheel of the machine. The machine that keeps us dumb to what is really happening . “They call it the American dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.”

Chris Owens