“I’d rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world.” – George Washington
From the great indoors, the Bitterroot Valley is a brilliant mess of white and blue and sun. It’s a glitter-crusted, windswept country – the perfect portrait of the hellish winter we’re having here in the West. My heart aches a little extra this week because with the arrival of another deep freeze was the departure of my mother, Andrew and Quinn. As I sit in my office and write, they are entering into the farmlands of Kansas, en route back to New York so Andrew can finish up his work and count the days to full retirement. Until they are back for our wedding this June, it’s just Chris and I and the animals.
The to-do list is ever-growing and collecting dust on the fridge. Put up dog fencing, build new goat enclosure, get the roof up on the barn and the second run-in for the horses. To fill the time, we’ve lulled ourselves into a mundane routine. Reality TV on Monday night, American Dream TV on Tuesday night, Wednesday is catch-up/other jobs day, is-it-Friday Thursdays, finally-Friday Fridays, Saturdays for outdoor chores, Sundays for indoor chores. Repeat.
Winter sometimes feels like sitting at a table full of strangers at a bad party. You’re all just waiting for it to be over, being over critical of yourself and annoyed by your own lack of motivation. At least that goes for me anyhow. I just keep looking outside at the half-up barn and imagine it in all its glory – rough cut beams against a dreamy blue summer sky and a dancing hay field that is yet to be cut. It’s heaven, so I march on. Our goats are growing and our chickens are laying – yes, even Peckerina, who we thought of giving away or butchering, but we just don’t have it in us. Perhaps spring will save us all.
I’ve also been filling my head and our home with better, healthier things. We no longer fret when buying a 30 pound bag of organic chicken food or goat food or expensive fresh packages of locally raised beef. These things are investments, for ourselves and our animals. I have seeds ready for the garden and I’m researching all things kidding for when our goats reproduce and give us the gift of raw milk, from which we’ll make cheese. I add be more sustainable to the list.
However, I do think I went overboard the night before last when I purchased a block of dark Belgium chocolate without having an idea of how to break it up. When I was a kid, my parents raised me in a chocolate shop. I remember the seemingly infinite slabs of milk and dark chocolate that I’d take a screwdriver looking object to and break it apart into delicious chunks. Chris and I looked nothing like this. We did not have such a perfect tool. We were in the kitchen with scissors, knives, a hammer and the sharp end of a meat thermometer. Chocolate shavings covered our hands and the counter and the floor. We have no plans for Valentine’s Day as of yet. As far as I’m concerned, every day is Valentine’s Day when you’ve got chocolate and love.