the first flurry

There is a day in late October/ early November when the weather goes from glorious light-filled autumn to an unmitigated winter. Perhaps its the end of Daylight Savings where night comes that much earlier that it just has to be winter. This morning we had our first snow flurry. I'd be inclined to call it a first snow, but I'm trying not to sound as flustered by the weather as I am. Must keep up appearances. I can handle this Vermont winter! (She says to herself in a low voice, over and over again, becoming more unconvinced with every utterance).  I enjoy snow and winter and the quiet of the world when the two have finally descended. But, what I seem to block out each year is the inherent anxiety brought on by the low temperatures.

The ground is almost frozen and the grass is all but eaten or dead.  All of the grubs and spiders and crawlers and critters have either died or hibernated or moved into the dark corners of my little house. And now, it is up to our planning and storing to get these animals through the winter with safety, warmth, food, water and happiness. We start counting down the hay bales. Every bale we throw from the loft briefly tightens my chest, not 100% sure how we can get through until the grass grows again in May. I resent this about winter. The responsibility is overwhelming. The animals are more dependent upon us in these six months than they are the other half.

Yesterday morning I came to the coop to find my dear chicken friend, Spanky, cold and dead in a nest box. I knew she was unwell and that winter would be hard on her but I didn't expect the weather to be so hard so soon on the animals. I would have kept her inside Saturday night.

We have done our winter due diligence with water heaters and insulation and plastic on the barn windows and a loft of hay and a half a loft of bedding straw and an old milk bulk tank filled with chicken feed. But dear Lord, the stress of the winter will just rest upon me until April when we begin to see the snow receding and the light returning and the grass growing.


  1. Poor Spanky!

    Crazy how the weather can change overnight!
    Stay warm!

  2. So sorry to hear about Spanky! I hope the winter treats you well and that you have many cozy times by the fire. The hard work is dying down and the time for hibernation has come!


  3. I just love following your blog and your adventures! You are listed in my blog list! Keep doing what you love. Peace!


  4. I'm sorry about Spanky. Thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures. I miss having seasons.

  5. I'm so sorry about Spanky. :( I love your gorgeous photographs, though. Yeah, Vermont winters are cold. Snow filled. But quite beautiful if you're prepared! Sometimes i miss the New England winter when it's January and pouring and soggy here in OR..

  6. Love your blog. Have you guys considered farming out in California? Winters are far more bearable (and lovely) here. And I say this because I don't have the courage you have to face cold Vermont winters...

  7. I'm feeling it too; we haven't yet started to count down hay bales, but soon, and I grimace every time I have to cut into a new one. And the animals. We always lose at least 1 over the cold months, usually an older one who just can't hack it anymore. Makes me sad, and makes me wish for spring. Hugs on the loss of Spanky.

  8. I live in a warm part of Australia so I've never experienced what you're going through. I do know about seeing favourite chickens die, although ours are more likely to die due to snakes rather than the weather. I'm sorry about Spanky.

    I've only just found your blog so I'll look forward to following your winter's journey.

  9. Sorry to hear about Spanky! I'm from the Midwest so I know how the weather can be so drastic which makes it difficult to adjust to. Here's hoping that this winter will be short and sweet ; )

  10. The responsibility sometimes weighs heavy, but they trust us with their lives and we must do the best we can.

    Beautiful pictures.

    Sue xx

  11. your pictures are beautiful, love your perspective :)


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