If the calendar is correct, it’s spring. But, morning chats in the Port Clyde General Store over hot coffee, grumblings of passersby with heads down in the wind, folks bundled up in sweaters and jackets at farmers markets tell us that it’s a cold one.
In my 10 years living on the coast of Maine, I don’t remember winter taking on such a long, cold hold. Before Halloween, we were blanketed in snow. Then the ice set in. Now, mornings are still hovering in the 30s with occasional frost covering the pasture. Memorial Day is next week.
Here on the coast, water temps are hanging in the 40s. Last week, lobstermen reported it dropping again. When you spend the day on the water and end with one crate of lobsters, it’s a costly day. Some are going farther south to look for slots on other boats till it warms up. Banks don’t care about the weather. Boat payments and mortgages still have to be paid.
In the barn, deep beds have been cleared and replaced with fresh shavings. The girls pick their own hay to nest in. I’ve been less diligent about weekly deep cleanings as those hay nests are still providing warmth under heavy pregnant Moms. By now, barn doors are usually flung open with gentle breezes passing through. This year, barn doors are shut to conserve warmth for newly born goat kids. Buckets are still steaming filling up with the morning milk. I’m still wearing red, flannel-lined jeans.
With the woodpile down to a few logs, the hay loft empty, and my Grandmother’s heavy winter blankets still on the bed, I take comfort in the warmth of a newborn babe on my lap. My alarm clock is two yellow, fuzzy ducklings in a box on the dining room floor, squeaking for their breakfast.
The gardens will get planted, eventually. The grass will get mowed, eventually. The farm stand will get stocked, eventually. Spring will come, eventually.
I’ve been using this extra time to focus on the My Maine Farm Girl site. Fiber is headed to the mill for spinning. I’ll post as soon as it’s ready. They’ll be lots of soft new colors. Milk is flowing, so I’m experimenting with new soaps. Orange Nougat is driving people crazy, because it really does look good enough to eat. Cheeses will be soon be available in the farm stand and at other locations TBA. And caramels, also available in the farm stand, soon on the website and possibly at a store near you.
People ask me all the time for advice about running a farm, particularly single-handedly. I don’t give advice, but I do remember a good friend telling me once, “you know when God laughs? When he hears your plans.”
That pretty much sums up a day on a farm — a day in a life — no matter what you’re doing. Be it weather or animals or growing things, we are not in charge. We can make a plan, as long as we know, plans change. My advice is: Surrender to that.
I’ve learned to focus more on what’s happening under my nose rather than across the days or weeks or months. Keep friends close, work hard, play harder. Spring will come, in spite of all our grousing. Warmth will come. Then we’ll be complaining it’s too hot! Aren’t we all just a bunch of funny ducks?
Photos by Dyan Redick
Dyan Redick is an artisan cheesemaker, writer, and fiber artist is coastal Maine where she operates Bittersweet Heritage Farm, a certified Maine State Dairy offering cheeses made with milk from a registered Saanen goat herd, a seasonal farmstand full of wool from a Romney cross ﬂock, goat’s milk soap, lavender, woolens, and whatever else strikes her fancy. Follow Dyan on My Maine Farm Girl and Instagram.