One definition of hope is a confident expectation. When I stand on the porch and see the sun rising just at that utility pole, I know that Imbolc / St. Brigid Day is close. Very close. I have a confident expectation that Winter is waning — no doubt, it will still pack a punch in February though.
This is the time when I feel the urge to clean everything starting at the top the wall and working my way down, every book, every knick knack, every baseboard. This time of cleaning reminds me to hold my possessions lightly and to be prepared to part with anything that I don’t know to be beautiful or useful.
This is the time when I go over the seed list and garden plan one more time. I put dates beside seed names so that I remember when to start seeds indoors, when to start putting them on the porch to get used to the great outdoors, and when plants and seeds can go straight into the ground. I have a confident expectation that Spring will come and food will be grown once again.
I have a stack of Herbal books I am hoping to read this winter. The herb garden planning is coming along nicely with ideas for the beds, pots, fencing, flooring, etc. I am compiling a pretty good list of seeds and plants that would be helpful and that grow well in our area. I am thinking about how to grow those plants that need protection from the cold weather.
One thing I am considering is a small walled garden inside the larger herb garden, likely as one side of the garden. There are many herbs that do well in cool, shady conditions. I could even put some mushroom logs in this area as well. I am beginning to suspect that this herb garden project will take multiple years (5 years, maybe) to come to completion.
The first book I read was The Green Witch Herbal. It was a pretty good introduction and included things like indoor plants, cooking, cleaning, hygiene, and then remedies. She reminds us that most herbs are both culinary and medicinal. I created a list of herbs, spices, and essential oils that she recommends. I really liked that she laid our an herbal medicine cabinet and a traveling herbal kit. Very handy information!
My Qi-gong practice is brand new. From reading, I learned Qi-gong is a moving meditation, slow flowing movements, deep rhythmic breathing, and a calm state of mind. Originally the aim was to promote the movement of Qi by stretching and twisting the three energy channels. The key seems to be relax and breathe.
I started by practicing with 8 Pieces on You-Tube while I learned the breathing pattern and motions. I go back and rewatch her once a week to make sure my practice is staying on track. After two weeks of careful watching and even taking some notes I felt ready to try it on my own. I think 25 years of yoga helped with the movement + breath learning.
Every morning for the past three weeks, I have rolled out of bed, and placed my feet very deliberately upon the ground. I begin with a moment of quiet, just counting breaths, and being thankful I can do this practice.
I will continue practicing this form for as long as possible. I know there is a longer one, but these 15 minutes are still new and feel like sand that could slip between my fingers if I try to move on too quickly.
Our current chicken ark faces due west and is open on that side. I have rugs that hang over the opening, leaving a little gap for the girls to go in and out. Outside the ark, but inside the fence, is an area about 4 feet by 4 feet. This is where we keep their water.
In the summer, I hung an old sheet on the western fence to give them some shade. I was debating about what to do as winter approached. I didn’t want to rebuild this ark since they will be moving into a new coop this Spring.
As the guys were splitting firewood an idea occurred to me. I asked them to stack the firewood around that open area outside the fence. It has created a wonderful windbreak and the girls really seem to enjoy a space without wind. It is convenient for grabbing logs as they are needed too. We have a couple more months of cold, wood burning weather, but hopefully the wall will last until either the bitter cold is over or the new coop is ready for occupants.
I did not take the picture above. I haven’t been to Wales (yet), but I wanted to use it to focus my thoughts on 2021 and what I hope to accomplish. I don’t make New Year resolutions. These are the same four areas I work on every year in some form or fashion.
Wellness — At 54 and on the other side of menopause, I am quite content with my body and my body image. I am not going to diet or work out like a fiend. I am not going to shame myself by using a scale. I am not going to reward myself with food. Been there, done that. Older and wiser now.
There are a few things I would like to change this year to help with my auto-immune anemia and lupus. One: I will be going no coffee, tea, chocolate, and gluten and instead will learn to love turmeric latte, peppermint tea, and homemade gluten free scones and cookies. Two: I have been learning Qi-gong and practicing the 8 Brocade every morning. I would like to continue that and add 22 minutes of additional intentional exercise (following RBG program of 5 minutes HIIT, 8 minutes strength training, 5 minutes HIIT, and 4 minutes stretching). I will still walk, but it doesn’t count as exercise anymore. It is something I do because I love it.
Simple-ness — At 54 and with medical debt, a mortgage, and a credit card, I am not content with this situation. So I am planning on not purchasing anything this year except to replace what breaks and cannot be repaired, books for my Welsh study, and my Spiritual Companion Group. There are some farm projects that will be carried out using stimulus money and our tax refund. I have a budget and a plan, and we’ll see how it goes. The thing with an autoimmune disorder is that you are always going to have medical bills. Always. So I need to be at peace with that and just do the best I can.
I had debated stopping our Washington Post subscription, but it is sanity in a world of Twitter news. So instead, I am maximizing it. I am removing news from my twitter feed — what’s left, not much. I do like to keep up with what my Members of Congress are doing (never anything good) or I would just delete the whole thing.
Favorites —I am planning on a reread of my favorite books, listening to my favorite audio books, and rewatching my favorite tv show — Rosemary and Thyme. I don’t enjoy watching tv or movies very often anyway. I am sure if there is a movie I absolutely must see, Hannah or Michael will make sure we see it.
Welsh tuition will continue because — JOY!
Garden / Herbs/ Animals— I have a stack of Herbal books I borrowed from Hannah and I hope to study them this winter. I’d like to add a fenced in herb garden this year. I saw a really cute design that I think would work well here on our farm. Building it will be my big project this year.
The vegetable garden will get the first four raised beds this year. We’ll be growing potatoes in them as a way to create the soil we’ll need to fill them. I do have a lovely pickup bed worth of homemade compost that we will alternate with chicken bedding in the potato beds.
We will finish a couple more chicken yards so they can be rotated during the grass growing seasons.
I think we’ll add another rabbit too. Ours are both getting a bit old and it might we wise to get ahead of the age game. Their manure is absolutely priceless here on the farm. I’d like to put the new rabbit on the pasture system, so that will need to be built before bringing one home.