….Barely, thanks to my chronic state of hypothermia!

So I left CO for warmer temperatures and 4 distinctly beautiful seasons of central IL.  HA!!  Wouldn’t ya know, our first winter here would involve the coldest, worst winter in 100 years (depending on who you ask).  Average temperatures for the month of February are typically in the 30’s, the ground begins thawing, and by late March, the trees are blooming and grass begins to grow as it ushers in springtime.  Not this year.  Here we are in the last week of February.  We had a low of 3* last night, with highs running in the 20’s all week.  The ground is frozen solid, and we are at a standstill.

S has been working through our list of projects, many of which need to be done by spring.  We need to collect and repair all our temporary electric fencing.  But we can’t because it’s frozen to the ground.  We need to set up some new grazing paddocks.  We can’t because the ground is too frozen to take the posts.  We need milk, but the cold has caused all the goats to dry up, and causing our beef-turned-milk cow to fluctuate wildly in her production.  In desperation, S decided to collect and burn lumber piles.  The night before, it snowed and got it all too wet to burn.  So he set up his lumber mill to cut up logs.  When he went to collect the logs, they were frozen to the ground and wouldn’t budge!  AAAGH!!!

OK, I WILL NOT complain.  I WILL NOT complain.  I WILL NOT complain.  Really, I’m not complaining.  I’m just stating facts.  I like to look at the positive side of things instead.

Like our new batch of pullets laying their first egg this morning.  Of course, it was frozen solid and cracked open by the time we found it.  Or the new pigs we’ve added for the 2014 season.  A month earlier than we were supposed to due to the breeder’s winter issues, and now they are stuck in our barn brooder until the ground thaws enough for us to set their fence up.  Then there’s the sunny day yesterday that allowed me the opportunity to finally get the goats out of their barn paddock and lead them out to the front pasture for some exercise.  Except that poor Latte has aged about 10 years in this cold, and it seemed as though her joints just wouldn’t function as she limped along the 1/4 mile.  I hope it was good for her to get out.  Oh, I know, the adult layers are in full swing, popping eggs out all over.  Unfortunately, they are still in the barn because we haven’t been able to build the second coop yet.  Furthermore, they have gotten bored laying in their assigned areas, and have taken to exploring the entire barn, stalls, and loft.  Which means egg collecting is more akin to an easter egg hunt 5 times a day so we can hope to find them before they freeze.

Bugs.  That’s the thought that keeps me going.  The idea that maybe, just maybe, this deep, long cold will kill off lots and lots of bugs and larvae buried in the upper layers of the ground, which will mean a wonderful crop year for those of us who use no chemicals.  Only time will tell there.

OK, I give up.  I make it a point to praise God for the winter, as I firmly believe there is blessing in everything.  The human in me, however, must confess that I am SICK AND TIRED of winter.  My fingers and toes are always frozen, a walk to the mailbox results in wind burn on my cheeks, and the kids and I are driving each other nuts!  My joints are stiff, I feel 80 years old, and I’m ready to garden, get outside, build paddocks, groom animals, grow pasture, whatever.

Alas, life goes on.  We are staying busy, with a full kitchen remodel about to begin.  We are plugging along in school, and trying to survive winter.  It always comes back to winter, doesn’t it!  We are also staying busy trying to learn from this winter and planning necessary changes, so we can be better prepared should something like this happen again.  Enough of this rant.  I will close with a very happy thought….Today, I am mailing out our first half-payment for our team of Belgian horses that should be arriving at the end of March.  That thought gives me sweet dreams indeed!