As I said in my last post, we did officially move into our almost completely finished bedroom, which has been wonderful, but do I have lots of photos of a completely finished bedroom to show you? No. Those are coming, I swear. Alex and I are pretty damn proud of our work, since we laid the oak flooring ourselves (and did everything else, too). Our room kinda rocks. It has a closet and everything.
As it does in October, it got all pretty outside. Which makes me think of this:
The hills... the mountains... talk about your purple mountains majesty. Just fantastic... Green fields. Purple mountains. And the roads - black - cutting through the green. All the colors... the trees... Pennsylvania is nice too.
But I digress. (As if you haven't seen The Birdcage 194 times. Come on!)
One morning, there was thick fog filling our valley. When Alex and I went up to the top of the hill to take a look, it seemed our valley had become an immense lake of silver mist.
The end of the month brought with it plenty of social activity as we hosted a harvest party, here, and we prepared for Samhain/Halloween. Our pullets began laying. We were beginning to turn inward and our spaces got organized and freshened, and winter whispered in the back of our minds. We lit our first fires.
We put October to bed, confident we had at least a month before winter storms. We grasped as we never had before, that autumn is when farmer types do all the infrastructure work that did not get done during the growing season. The weather is good and it's relatively bug-free. Autumn is the season for harvest and doing. For getting done what needs done before the snow flies. We had our list-shoring up the chickens for winter, figuring out a winter water supply for the ducks, laying some fencing. We didn't have a lot of time, but we had some time. A month would do it.
Sunday, November 2, we woke to a dusting of snow and as much as eight inches of it in the forecast, for our midcoast area. Not great, but certainly manageable, and early snows melt the next day, anyway.
We got walloped. By late morning, we had our eight inches and another eight by late afternoon. By the time we realized we maybe needed to be in storm mode and that we should fill the tub and buckets with water, we had already lost power. Everything was weighed down by heavy snow, including the chicken hut. We went out many times to check on animals. The chickens were wet and cold due to the high winds driving snow into their run, so we put plastic and roofing over the open ends of their hut, in the hopes of giving them some additional shelter. The ducks were fine, but spooked by their dimmed pen, which was plastered in thick snow. After all, the snow was completely new to our young ducks and chickens. I'm sure they didn't know what to think. None of us did. We sure didn't expect snow to our knees on November 2. Not even in Maine.
On Monday, we woke and discovered the power still out, and nearly 2-feet of snow on the ground, and a lot of it in our driveway, which we needed to use because we never did do an Impending Snowstorm Shop and we were out of essentials (you're thinking coffee, milk, maybe eggs. No see, we had those. We didn't have guinea pig greens, or kale for the ducks' breakfast). We also discovered that morning, that our regular plow guy had quit, so we spent some time connecting with friendly locals about who might come plow us out. Within an hour, our friend tracked down her friend and we were soon plowed out by our new plow guy. Thanks New Plow Guy and Friend!
We also found out that much of the midcoast and down east Maine had also been hit by the storm, either by snowfall, or worse, downed trees and power lines from high winds. Further, we discovered that our town got buried, while the next town over only got the forecasted eight inches. Maine was in the news, including us, because the Daily Mail picked up my photo, as did New England Cable News.
While power outages are a nuisance, we're well-set for heat with the wood stove and we can cook on the gas range. Water is a our main problem, as our well pump runs on electricity. It's one thing to do bottled water for drinking and cooking, but flushing toilets and caring for animals is another thing. Chickens are easy. Our ducks, however, do not have a pond, so we provide their water and ducks use a lot of water. We needed gallons and gallons of water. Good thing there was plenty of snow to melt by the fire and it hadn't been an ice storm! This storm reminded us that we were not prepared for winter in crucial ways, and our stress levels were pretty high on that Monday. It certainly made us cognizant of our need for infrastructure and storm plans. With relief, our power was restored by 6pm Monday night. Many of our neighbors were not so fortunate.
In the weeks following #snowvember, we relished any day without snow, though the temperatures turned bitter cold. November felt much like January. We voted (and then we were sad.) We set to work on final garden clean-up, planting spring bulbs, filling water barrels for emergencies, and checking on Mermaid House (where there was no snow) and bringing up more furniture and our beloved books. Alex and I attended my 25th high school reunion, because, hell, we needed a night out. Auntie Heather spent a day visiting, which was lovely. The wild turkeys returned, curious about the new bird residents. And we mulled over our options for winterizing the chickens and ducks.
On the farm, there is an existing chicken coop, that we had not intended to use for chickens because of its location and its poor condition. And while we had been reassured that our chickens would be just fine through the winter in their moveable coop and hut, we saw the way the snow blew in and weighed down the hut, and how broken tree limbs made it sag further. The bitter cold temps following the storm also told us our chickens were not warm enough, even in their tractor. So, we took a second look at that old chicken coop.
We wondered how much we could do? Could we gut it and renovate it quickly enough, before the next storms? Would it be sound enough? So we thought about it for two days, gathered our supplies, and then we started to gut it.
The exterior will have to wait until spring, unfortunately, but we were determined to make the inside as pretty and fresh as possible, not to mention warm, clean, secure, and sound. While Alex and the kids worked on the inside of the coop, I painted the new walls in the garage.
Because of all the activity nearby, the chickens had lots to say, so they required frequent visiting. Our goofy pullets line up for hugs. It's adorable. Of course the ducks insisted on visits and treats, too.
Over the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving (which we were hosting), we all worked to get the coop ready for our chickens. Alex and I both thought there needed to be more light, so he added east and west storm windows. All the insulation was replaced, the otherwise sound roof was patched, new vents were put in, and the finished walls went up.
Meanwhile, we had two more snowstorms in November, one the day before Thanksgiving. #snowvember wasn't messing around.
It got to a point where Alex was doing the work he could on the coop and I finished all that I could, and I needed to turn my attention inside, because of that whole Hosting Thanksgiving In Three Days thing. Our living room was piled high with boxes of books, and the house was in dire need of a deep clean. We definitely hit the point where we thought we wouldn't get it done, but we did. It makes us so happy to have more of our belongings here in this house, now.
And just like that, it was Thanksgiving! The chicken coop still needed a bit more work before we could move the chickens, so that had to wait until after the holiday. The third snowstorm nearly cancelled all our plans, but the snow largely came on the day before, which made nervous aunts happy. We had a delicious meal and wonderful visit with family. Our cats and guinea pigs had a good day, too. We sent everyone home with leftovers, then we relaxed as a family, pleased with our full fridge, cozy house and knowledge that we were visiting friends the next day.
Friendsgivings are the best. Especially when they are just around the corner and in cozy, old farmhouses, with good people, and hosted by amazing cooks. So. Good.
One major holiday down, it was time to relax. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! DO YOU EVEN KNOW ME? My brain was all like, "Hey you! You should totally paint the kitchen before you start decking the halls even if you plan on tearing out the ceiling and walls a couple of years from now who wants to look at unfinished walls any longer especially at Yule?" and my brain answered back, "Hey yourself! You're totally right I should do that that's an awesome plan completely doable honest let's buy paint!"
So that's what we did the last few days of November and the first few of December.
After. We all approved this color, 'Hematite' 4006-2C by Valspar. We had been trying to choose a color since summer. While we all like warm yellow-greens, our resident feng shui expert, Olivia, noted that we needed to balance the wood and earth elements in the kitchen, to restore harmony and balance, and goddess knows we need some of that plus some, so we decided to opt for a water element color, which is anything in the blue, gray, and black family. Hematite seemed to be just the color. We love it. It's velvety, rich, and comforting. And if we hate it by the time we're ready to tackle the kitchen renovation, no big deal.
Just as we were painting the last bit of wall, we thought we should probably start decking the halls for real, and go get our Yule tree. December was already chip-chop-chipping by. (Yes, Adam is about two-inches taller than Alex.)
Which means I need to start blogging the Twelve Days of Yule, which I have totally done on time and I'm not behind one bit I'm totally lying. Don't worry, we're still making merry, the posts will happen. Yule see! (Get it?) This is the bit where I thank you for reading and scrolling and advise you to go soak your wrist or do some hand stretches or something and maybe go eat a meal and hydrate yourself.