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Winter Lessons Learned

A Red Pine Mountain LogoWinter is usually one of my favorite seasons, but not this year.  Perhaps it is because my bones are growing older or perhaps it was because this was a particularly intense winter.  Day after day of snowy sub-zero weather combined with an absence of sunshine took a toll on me, and I found myself sinking into depression.  And as it was for me so it was for my animals.  Horses and donkeys huddled around eating piles of hay.  Poultry refused to leave their coop for days on end.  We were in survival mode for this winter that would never end.

With each day, I found myself questioning why I do the things I do, and one of the things I questioned was why I blog for GRIT, a magazine I respect and have read for many years.  I have nothing to teach you.  I can't tell you the best way to do anything for I am still a novice myself.  Feeling I had nothing to offer you,  I stopped sending in blog posts and virtually stopped writing.

When I walk through darkness, I always turn to my faith, to the Bible, to help me find answers I so desperately  need.  I read and studied and prayed and waited patiently for the answer I needed, and it came as I knew it would.

It wasn't until the second week in April the snow started to melt and we were able to get out in the pasture once again.  As I watched Flower roll, I allowed myself to be filled with the joy of the earth emerging from its rest.  

Miniature horse rolling in pasture 

For the first time in oh, so long, we were able to run, to stretch our legs, to feel our bodies in motion.

Miniature horses and donkey running in pasture 

Back in the barn, I discovered one of my turkey hens had chosen a spot in my hay bales to lay her eggs.  I raised my hens from tiny poults and to see them laying eggs now was incredible.  Such a feeling of awe.  I'll never become jaded to the miracle of new life.

Tukey egg in the hay 

Perhaps it is a simple life living in the country, surrounded by animals and the incredible Mountain Man.  Mucking stalls, digging in the dirt and caring for our farm might not be everyone's idea of an exciting life but I know it's mine, and I am  truly blessed.  

I found the answer to my question that day in the pasture watching nature renew itself once again.  I do have something to share with you.  Each of us has personal struggles, personal triumphs and times of questioning.  If I can make one person smile, to feel not so alone as they go through depression, if I can touch you with my writing it is enough.

"To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under Heaven."

Mountain Man and Mountain Woman can also be found at http://redpinemountain.com 

barb hoyt
7/31/2011 4:22:39 PM

I loved your blog about surviving winter. That is exactly how I felt this past winter. My bones ached and I was just tired. We live in southern MN and last winter was extremely harsh. But we did survive and so did all our critters. But by the end of summer, I always seem to welcome some down time. Thank you for your thoughts. I am sure I will read more as time goes on.


mountain woman
4/20/2011 12:27:21 PM

Shannon, Thank you so much. You write so beautifully and I really appreciate your thoughts. It's really heartening to know others feel the same way.


s.m.r. saia
4/20/2011 7:23:13 AM

Mountain Woman, I'm glad to see you back. I feel that way about blogging a lot. But the blogs that I like best are the ones that show a slice of life, and even though you don't think that you're "teaching" anyone anything, getting a glimpse of your life and your thoughts every now and then is teaching. I came to the conclusion a while back that maybe blogging isn't necessarily about telling others what you know, but about sharing our personal journeys of discovery, and we're all learning from each other in an "unschooling" kind of way. From the outside everyone else always seems so much more together than one feels to be one's self, the best thing about reading other people's blogs is the reminder that we're all just human, doing the best we can with ups and downs. I'm always happy to see a new post by you, with your beautiful photos, whenever you feel inclined to post one. Happy Spring!


mountain woman
4/17/2011 6:12:49 AM

Wow, Christina, I thought I had it bad! Yikes. I feel for you because barn chores in subzero weather are the worst. I went through the rooster dilemma myself and can tell you the answer is to add a tom turkey, well a flock of turkeys, because the toms keep the roosters at bay. Worked for me until tom thought I was a hen :-) Here's a tip for next winter I learned from a friend. If it gets way below freezing, put vaseline on the combs of your chickens it keeps them from splitting open if the weather gets way below zero. It worked when we were living through those 27 below zero days. As to adding more animals, I say why not. I'm going to be adding goats and I hope mini cattle as well. So sorry about the fox. We have one around here at the moment but my horses seem to keep him at bay. So sorry you lost your rooster and even sorrier about your barbwire scratches. Hope they didn't get infected. Anyway, thanks for sharing your story. I feel your pain!


krissu
4/16/2011 7:58:41 AM

Hello MountainWoman, Greetings from Canada! Long winter ...tell me about it. Purchased one hundred year old home in Canadas' first Icelandic community, Hekkla, and this was my first winter. My grand romantic dream of farmsteading was more like a reality arctic agony show. One rooster who would not let me in the coop, six chickens who have laid about one hundred eggs that I can t get to and four dogs in minus forty celsius for weeks. So finally it s warm at minus ten and a fox got in. Rooster I found headless and we are at three chickens that I chased for two hours and ended up scratching my forhead on barbwire. It was dramatic effect for court that day as I am in litigation to close last property deal so I can live my grand dream of being close to the land!!!!So then I see on Discovery how in Iceland, Hekkla is volcano in their episode of Places on Earth known as Entrances to Hell. Go figure or whattt!Lol. So now I am thinking horses, goats, sheep. Why stop now? Your Canadian Girlfriend from Five Oaks Farm, Christina


mountain woman
4/16/2011 6:17:47 AM

Sunny, Thank you so much for your very kind words. Homesteading at the best of times is difficult and I can't imagine what it would be like to do alone and with a disability. You are truly remarkable. I so understand about the weather blues. It's still very much winter here in some ways and the sun and warmth won't hold. I believe with all my faith there were important lessons for me to be learned this winter about staying steadfast and focusing on what has true meaning and that is God. He is the answer. I just can't tell you how much your comment made me feel better. I so appreciate it. Here's to warm days ahead. P.S. - I love your name!


wildflower_va
4/15/2011 11:03:13 AM

Thank you, Mountain Woman, for this timely blog. I just got onto my small farmstead last July and it seems the weather has been against me since then--record-breaking heat right up to the first week of November when we started record-breaking cold. I am disabled, homesteading alone, so it doesn't take too much adverse weather to get the best of me. I, too, had one of your kind of winters, and my normally irrepressibly sunny nature turned to depression. I read my Bible daily and gain comfort and strength from God's Word, but here it is the second week of April and winter just won't end. I came in from outside, where the winds are blowing gale force, quite depressed, and opened your blog and my spirits were lifted! Thank you for sharing your experiences and the photos of your animals frolicking in the spring sunshine! Sunny of GloryBe Farmstead


mountain woman
4/14/2011 10:19:07 AM

Hi Cindy, Lots going on here and lots of changes on the horizon. Usually winter is a favorite but we had virtually no sunny days this year and it took it's toll. I really appreciate your kind words. I hope I have things to share but I don't know where life will lead this spring and summer. Thanks so much again.


cindy murphy
4/13/2011 7:07:14 PM

Mountain Woman, I am sorry one of your favorite seasons turned sour for you; I remember last year you saying how much you liked winter, and thinking 'I'm right there with you, Sister!' I missed reading your blogs here this winter; your writing is very personable and your thoughts and photos are always inspiring. We might not all having something to teach in the sense of "this is how you do this, put this there, mix that, and come up with voila! some handy-dandy new thingamajig", (I personally never had use for thingamajigs - now, doohickies and whatchamacallits, well, that's a different story). Sharing experiences we can all in some way relate to, inspiring people, making them smile, laugh, or just go "hmmmm" is a form of teaching also. You do ALL that stuff, and I hope that as spring takes hold we get to read more of it.


mountain woman
4/13/2011 10:00:13 AM

Thanks so much Nebraska Dave. You've been such a good friend to me. And although I thought winter was over, it is once again snowing today and tomorrow although very lightly. It's been quite the winter and I've learned so much.


nebraska dave
4/13/2011 9:36:57 AM

Sara, you do bring enjoyment and smiles to many folks through your honest emotion writing. Your strength in writing comes from all the discoveries you write about from your innocence to country living. It brings back memories to me from those early years of my life when I was discovering all the good things about country living. Your childlike enjoyment of just watching animals play and interacting with them is infectious. The pictures of your farm and hills around it through the different seasons are definitely calendar material and lifted my spirits during the long winter months. Every writer needs a break at times to reflect on just what life is always about. It's just in their nature. Have a great spring writing day.