After an unusually mild December, we have now had some proper winter weather. The storm a couple of weeks ago gave us maybe a foot of snow here at the farm, and the fields are still covered in a blanket of white—the farm’s slate wiped clean, marking a clear line between the old season just past and the new one to come.
This weather drives the birds to our feeders, so Herbie the farm cat now spends the balance of his days indoors perched on his chair in the sunroom intently watching what we call the bird show—all the flocking finches, cardinals, nuthatches, chickadees, and slate-eyed juncos. Truth be told, I like the show, too. I hung a feeder just outside the window of the old chicken coop I’ve claimed as a farm office/writing shed, and the birds keep me company while I sit there dreaming and scheming and plotting and planning.
Despite the sometimes unrelenting grayness, January can be one of my favorite months on the farm. Not only a time for looking ahead and beginning the long list of preparations for the coming season, it’s also a chance to expand my perception of what the farm is capable of. Once we hit May, my vision necessarily narrows to the the day-to-day urgencies and emergencies of running a small-scale diversified organic vegetable operation. The long litany of tasks obscures the farm like morning mist.
Winter’s snow clears all that, providing the proverbial blank canvas. So right now there is time and space to think, to engage my imagination. Even though we’ve lived and worked here for almost a decade, I feel like we’ve only scratched the surface of what is possible. And now is the time of year to see what else there is to see.