History of a Vermont Sheep Farm
Getting Started: You Can Farm Too!
A Flock of Your Own Icelandic Sheep
A Flock of Your Own Chickens
Growing Your Farm: How the Numbers Work
Dreaming Vermont: Relocating and Living in Vermont

The Wife has a list. It's a long Excel spreadsheet, broken down by area, season and resources required. At the present time it spans two calendar years, but is sure to grow as additional chores come to her. The list is supposed to get shorter as tasks are completed, but so far that hasn't happened. It just gets longer and longer, especially in the winter, when nothing can be done aside from plowing snow and stoking the wood stove.

It feels like we've been working on the same tasks forever, but haven't made enough headway on them to even consider checking them off as completed. Next winter's firewood comes to mind. For the past several weekends we've been processing the hardwood logs at the top of the hill.

First we cut them into stove-length pieces on the woodpile and split them near the cottage, filling the trailer with firewood and bringing it down to the farmhouse where we stacked it. Then we decided to drag the logs over to the cottage, cut it into stove-length pieces, load the trailer and bring the hunks to the side of the garage where it could be split and stacked. This weekend we just dragged the logs down to the side of the garage before cutting them into stove-length chunks and split/stacked.

It's not only time consuming, but requires both of us since the wife has to mark the places I'll be cutting, then drag the hunks clear as I dice the logs. This afternoon I bought a couple lengths of chain and tried lifting the logs off the ground with the tractor.

It worked very well, since the pieces fall and roll out of the way as I cut them. This way I can process firewood alone, freeing the wife to do other chores. Besides, anything that justifies the tractor purchase is a very good thing!

Anyway, after hauling, cutting, and splitting most of every weekend, we now have firewood stacked the entire length of the garage, and have started another row. Near that carefully stacked wood is a large and growing pile of freshly split cherry and maple. A few feet away is an even larger pile of firewood waiting to be stacked. A sum total of perhaps 15 to 20 logs. And up the hill are nearly 200 more logs waiting to be rendered unto stove-length. You see why it will never end.

So I was slouched across the patio chair upon completion of this day's work, aching all over, smelling even worse, surrounded by dogs, beer in hand while waiting for The Wife to round up her surviving chickens and lock them safely in the henhouse. The four hens that now comprise our abbreviated flock, having just last week witnessed the brutal slaughter of their coop-mates by a red fox, are too damned stupid to understand that the human female calling them has their best interests in mind.

Husband, who has butchered chickens before and knows there is no brain in those little heads -- nothing but solid bone behind those eyes -- understands and accepts chicken hailing as a lost cause. Wife, who misses being followed by an adoring little flock as she goes about her routine, is determined to save those last four. Occupying the center stall of the garage, strategically placed so as to completely defeat any planned or unplanned use of the garage, is a brooder box containing flock redux: 2 Rhode Island Red chicks, 2 Barred Rock chicks, and 6 tiny Brahma Bantam chicks. Too young to have recognized Wife as the Chicken Goddess, they flee in terror every time she checks on them.

It occurs to me, as I sit there smelling horribly and quaffing my brew, that I am surrounded by animals doing what comes naturally. Over my shoulder in the dead maple tree, a pair of woodpeckers are having sex. Down the hill on the grave of Ivory Luce, a tom turkey is loudly screaming, "Have sex with MEEE!" Chipmunks and squirrels are bouncing from rock to tree, copulating frequently but with absolutely no staying power. Ah, to have that much energy!

They obviously don't heat with wood.

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Stories From a Vermont Life:

Camilla Blue
Frozen Gifts
Making Wreaths
The Fourth of July

The Farm at Morrison Corner raises Icelandic Sheep on the last hill farm in Mansfield, VT.  Learn about Raising Icelandic Sheep, Raising Chickens, Moving to Vermont and Living in Vermont on this and our other sites.

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