Oh it’s been a dark winter, eh?  The greatest advantage of the cold we’ve “enjoyed” is the sunshine it’s brought.  Our cod liver pills help stave off the effects of little sun, but the best cure at our house is to get OUT!  Winter is a real lull time on the farm.  Mark and Kyle have been working on inside construction projects, though chicken processing continues to take up about 1 1/2 days/week.  The kids and I get out once or twice a day to take care of the chickens and goats.  There’s always wood to be gotten, a chore we all do at one time or another.  Schoolwork occupies much of our time.  Housecleaning is a bigger project with all of us in the house more.  All of us in the house more…that’s the inspiration behind the quote I posted this week.  We frequently talk about “wholesome talk that builds others up” and “if you can’t say something nice, say NOTHING.”  Fresh air seems to cure a lot of mood related ills, though.  This past weekend we took a day off.  Totally off.  The only way to really do that is to leave.  We didn’t go far.  Being blessed with a few ponds, we chose a sheltered one, packed up the snowmobiles, and headed out.  The kids and I had started clearing off the ice earlier in the week.  Mark had the neighbor come over on his four-wheeler and finish the job.  He set up a fire ring and got a warm blaze going.  We shoveled the last bits of snow off, skated, played in the snowbanks.  For lunch we feasted on our own chicken brats, oranges picked fresh off the Florida trees and express mailed by Mark’s Dad, and some sliced, buttered, and seasoned baked potatoes from our garden.  When it started to look like chore time, Mark started the submersible pump and flooded the ice.  It’s amazing how little feet are drawn to puddles.  Even big, icy, cold ones.  No one got too wet and we sure enjoyed our day away.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the sun these last few days like we have.  The boys have put a few miles on our old snowmobiles out in the fields.  Today they had the sleds out behind the snowmobiles, that way you have one driver and as many passengers as needed.  I didn’t need to remind them about helmets today–it was about the only way to keep their heads warm!  The kids’ other favorite game is “king of the hill.”  When Rusty the dog gets involved, the ante is upped considerably.  He likes to help out the one rolling down the hill!  We’ve been able to get some decent pictures of the goats.  We’ve also been able to open the chickens’ door and let them out a bit.  They like the sun, but not the cold.  Keeping their little feet warm is a trick.  We use a light dusting of sawdust and discarded goat hay to pad their house floor, but the out of doors is still chilly in their little minds.  With the good sunlight they’ve held their own in the cold and kept laying, which is good news.  It really is January in northern Michigan, and we make the best of it we can, enjoying the richness of this season just like every other one.