….and *sob* I’m *sob, sob* NOT *sniff*READY!!!!!

We had some threat of cold temperatures, so last night, we did our best to prep things.  I removed hoses from the house faucets, we bedded all the animals down in some extra straw, ensured everyone had fresh water, and gave everyone lots of food to munch (digestion helps create body heat).  Here is what I woke to find this morning:

So much for the forecast of “No snow accumulation.”  Now, I try hard to not complain about the weather.  I am usually pretty good about finding advantages and blessing in every season.  Even this morning, I kept telling myself that, for the first time in 2 months, I don’t have swarms of flies in my house.  That’s a good thing, right?  I almost convinced myself….until it was time to go do the morning farm chores.

First, I spent almost an hour dressing the kids, who weren’t about to be left inside with all that snow beckening to them.  Thankfully, I did a good job organizing when I put it all away early this summer. 

Yeah, summer.  Our last snow was in mid-May!  It was early summer before I finally felt comfortable cleaning and packing it all away. 

Anyway, by the time we found 5 pairs of gloves (4 kids + me), 5 coats, 5 pairs of matching, appropriately sized boots (kids do grow about 8 inches every summer, you know!), mix-and-matched coats with water-proof pants that would fit decently, I was exhausted.  And foreseeing serious debt in the near future, I realized that M and A have both severely outgrown their winter parkas and I would have to buy them some more appropropriate winter gear. 

Finally, everyone was dressed and we went outside. 

Can I just ask for your forgiveness right now?  I’m experiencing some serious envy right now…..to every person who has a nice, warm, barn.  There is no doubt in my mind that this coming winter will create an appreciation in me for my future barn, and I will never take that barn for granted!

JR started out with the rabbits’ water.  In preparation for winter, we had purchased extra water bottles.  So, he was able to just bring in all the frozen bottles this morning, and immediately take out new ones filled with fresh, warm water.  I went out to check for eggs (which will burst open when they freeze)….something we will have to do frequently in this weather.  I was surprised to find the hens’ body heat had kept the poorly-insulated coop warm enough that their water had not frozen.  When I attempted to let them out, they all took one look at that snow, and said “FORGET IT!”  Even the roosters in the brooder box had absolutely no interest in leaving their sheltered environment. 

Then, it was time to feed and check the large animals’ water buckets.  Everyone seemed to fair OK, despite the fact we had failed to complete our winter-shelter-building-projects before the snows came.  Poor Shiloh and Stallion were forced to cram inside their A-frame (which we plan to re-build into a more standard 3-sided shelter).  At least it gave them reason to cuddle together to stay warm.

Since we also didn’t complete the enclosing of my milking/feed room, everything was covered in snow.  The blowing wind had deposited at least an inch of snow on everything. 

By the time I finished dusting snow off the feed/grain bins, milk stand, my bucket seat, and tending to everyone, it was around 10:00 by the time I finally milked.  My udder/teat cleaning wipes had frozen on the edges, so the girls did NOT appreciate being wiped down this morning, and then I removed my gloves (you can’t milk with gloves on) in order to put my freezing hands on the poor girls.  Again, they did NOT appreciate that. 

By the time all chores were accomplished, there was a good 4 inches of snow on the ground, and it was still coming down hard.  The younger kids were starting to get cold.  That’s when I realized our days of having a reasonably clean entry way were gone.  I guess it’s back to the floor, wall, closet, and bathroom full of dripping, wet, and/or muddy winter gear.  With as many kids as we have, that pile grows really fast!

I love this pic.  So classic of Colorado weather.  Notice the flip-flops in the lower right corner?  The weather was decent enough all week, M wore them yesterday.  Then, today, it was snow-boots for everyone.  Go figure.

Now, it’s almost lunch time.  The kids, who typically get along fairly well, are already suffering from cabin fever.  S had to go on a trip, leaving yesterday morning, so between dad being gone, and the kids not feeling like going back outside in the cold yet, I have already been dealing with bickering, crying, and other sibling issues.  We have done some school to help, but that only goes so far on a Saturday.   It could be a long day. 

Maybe the flies weren’t as bad as a I thought.  Welcome winter.  I think I’ll go start a fire, simmer up some hot cocoa, and settle down with a couple kids and a good book.  Or maybe we’ll make it a rare movie day. 

In any case, I guess I might as well accept it, and admit that, now that chores are done, I can’t keep from looking out the window, and admiring the beauty of God’s creation.  Even if that beauty involves multiple inches of microscopic ice crystals, there is something so magical and peaceful that just cannot be duplicated by man.