One of the most difficult things for me to face each year is winter. Days grow shorter, nights colder, hillsides browner, and skies bleaker. And yet, I love autumn! I am amazed with the changing colors of my world- the leaves, grasses, sky and sunsets. I love to hear the brisk breezes rustle through piles of crisp leaves and watch as it swirls them into the air. I love to breathe in the air of the clear, cold nights and believe that the stars are closer and even brighter than they are all summer. I love to smell hot soups simmering on the stove and hay stacked in the barn. I look forward to apple picking, pear picking, and finally… grass mowing becoming non-existent.
Throughout the fall months, the animals’ coats become thicker and their colors more vibrant as the sun’s intensity dwindles and the color is no longer bleached. I usually chide myself that I haven’t shorn the sheep that final sheering in late summer when I see them seeking a shady spot rather than joining the llamas and horses basking in the fall sun.
How cruel and quickly winter can come upon us though. Sneaking in as autumn attemps to hold onto the last of the warm days and nights. It is during this time, when cold precipitation comes in the form of icy rain and temperatures hover in the low 40s, that I am the most nervous about the impending winter.
So much preparation needs to be set into place in order to face winter and all that it brings. We don’t routinely blanket the horses, but it is imperative that the blankets are clean, repaired, and easy to find in a pinch. That usually means in the dark on a blustery and frigid night with only a headlamp shining. Heaters for the water troughs need to be handy and in good working order. Hay needs to be stacked in the barn efficiently to make use of the limited space. Run-ins need to be prepped and altered for the winter winds versus the summer sun. So much to do and with each passing day there is even less daylight in which to do it!
Now, add a Wool Mill to the equation and life is suddenly extremely insane, and yet, I have never been more at ease. I have begun to enjoy life as a journey rather than hope to be satisfied with the destination. Each day brings the challenge of trying something new and doing the best you can with the resources and limitations that present themselves. I tease the sheep that even though I could’ve used more wool for increased inventory at the mill, I’d never take it from them (that late summer shearing) just when they are needing it most.
One thing I have learned though.. is that, just as winter comes sneaking in the backdoor, Spring will be peaking through the window in no time at all. “To every thing, there is a season…”