Summer is a time of plenty and replenishment. Anyone who’s familiar with the fable of the grasshopper and the ant knows summer is when there is an abundance of food but it’s also a time to prepare for the coming winter. People prepare for the coming season in a variety of ways from simply doing some back to school shopping to the more comprehensive preparation of canning, freezing and dehydrating their home grown foods.
Here on our farm, we are like the ant. We start drying herbs early in summer, move to canning and freezing vegetables and fruits in mid and late summer and of course do our meat harvest in early fall to fill our freezers. Aside from food there are other items that need replenishing, such as the firewood shed. I also start making fire starters in the early fall, make sure my candle stock is sufficient for any long term power outages and of course do basic home winter prepping like cleaning out gutters, making sure rain barrels are ready, weather stripping is still in good shape, etc… But aside from all these practical needs, there is one that I also consider fundamental to having a well stocked winter home…..it’s items for my mental health and entertainment.
In some ways we’re like the grasshopper, we enjoy our down time, but unlike the grasshopper, we just plan for it. Winter can mean some much needed down time. While chores still need to be done and animals cared for, the garden work is minimal and most large construction or repair projects are put on hold till the weather is better. This means I have some time for me. Time to rest after the craziness of summer and time to rest and replenish my weary self. We have given up our Direct TV services since we found we only watched a few hours a month and it just wasn’t worth the amount we were paying for it. What we found instead was that we read. In fact we read A LOT. We also spend winter hours learning and trying our hand at new skills. This is part of our summer replenishment planning too.
During summer we visit as many yard sales as we can building our collection of winter reading material. As we finish reading these books we take them to our favorite used book store and then trade them in other reading materials. We also pick up books and supplies for our winter crafts and skill building. For example I’m also looking for good sheets that I can use to make fabric yarn for my rugs and baskets. I also pick up supplies to make new molds, curing racks or storage for soap making, wine making supplies and also materials for paper making.
While the winter preparation for food, heat and shelter may make our physical lives more comfortable, these additional preparations make our emotional lives more satisfying. I would encourage you to embrace both your inner ant and grasshopper and plan for both to make for a enjoyable winter.
It’s another sweltering evening and I was debating turning on the air conditioning but was trying to hold off on general principle (I’m always trying to compete with Mother Nature to see who’s more stubborn) and also to save myself from heart failure when I get the electric bill. Anyway, I digress, I was busy trimming soap and getting them ready to package for a special order and I needed to go get my recipe book so I could list the ingredients on the labels…as I headed into the kitchen to grab the book I realized I was starving.
Hubs is at an agriculture board meeting tonight so I figured it would be a pistachio and beer kinda night (dinner of champions right there). I grabbed the bag of pistachios and happened to glance out the window and see the horses. I’d been working from home all day but hadn’t had a spare minute to spend time with Shasta so I decided to rectify that. I put down the bag of pistachios and headed down the hill to spend some time with my girl.
Once I got down there I saw that Gia had several new insect bites on her back. I went to get the fly spray to offer them some relief but apparently Gia wasn’t appreciative of this idea. In fact we had what we call in the horse world, ‘an excellent training opportunity’. Once that was finished convincing Gia that all spray bottles weren’t demons in disguise and had sprayed both horses I did a brief walk through the garden and saw that the tomatoes were looking beautiful, heavily drooping on the vines and begging to be picked, and just like that my dinner plans changed.
I grabbed a couple of the tomatoes, a handful of herbs and a garlic bulb. On the way past the chickens I grabbed a couple of eggs and almost ran to the house, my mouth watering in anticipation. I love homemade tomato soup with a couple of eggs dropped into it and as a bonus I have some homemade soft cheese to dollop over the top. I was practically drooling just thinking about it. It would be totally worth turning on the air conditioner to enjoy this soup.
As I waited for the tomatoes to cook down I decided I really needed to sit down and type out the labels for the soap, except I really needed a beer to wet my parched throat as I worked and as I wandered past the laundry room, on my way to the garage to get a beer, I realized that there were two loads of laundry that needed to be folded. So I got to work folding laundry and then put it up. Finally, I headed out to get my beer and about that time I realized someone had taken my beer out of the fridge when the fridge stopped working last week and failed to move it into the other fridge. All my beer was warm. Sacrilege! I put some beer in the freezer to hurry along the process and went to work pureeing my soup and impatiently waiting for the beer to chill.
Now I’m sitting here sipping beer and enjoying my soup and thinking I need to work on those soap labels and wondering how anything gets done around here. Ok, time to get serious, I’m going to work on the labels, nobody say squirrel or otherwise distract me….. hey, I wonder what’s on FB this evening….