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.