Fall is here at last after a lingering summer. The trees glow in their autumn coats of gold, orange and red and the air is cool and damp with hints of the colder weather waiting in the wings. I love fall and regret that it is the shortest of seasons, with summer encroaching into September under the guise of days of Indian summer and winter shouldering in too soon, striping the trees of their leaves with fierce winds in November. It is the best time to walk in the woods leaves crunching underfoot or to enjoy the scent of hay piled up in the barn while you dig your fingers into the thick winter coats as you give your goats a scratch. It’s the time for soup and baking bread and digging out the wool socks. It’s the time to enjoy the delicious combination of crisp air and warm sun against your face as you rake leaves and prepare the garden for the winter months.
But because it is such a short season there’s never enough time to enjoy it! With the memory of last winter weighing on me I’ve made a list of things to do to prepare for this winter. First off is finishing adding skirting to the mobile home – at its last location it was backed into a hillside so some of the skirting that came with it is less than a foot tall and useless to us. We have a good 20-25 feet to fill in at this point. I’d like to get the porch back on the house – I had hoped to do that this week but it’s been very rainy. We need to order hay for winter feed and straw to line the goat stalls and place around the chicken coop (did I share that we have our own little flock now – housed in a converted shipping container) to insulate our farm animals. And we need gravel for the driveway so that we don’t get bogged down in mud/snow again! We have propane in the tank – enough for the beginning of winter anyway and despite the cool nights we are holding off on turning on the heat to better conserve it. “Layers!” I tell the kids, “Lots of layers!” They reply that they have no layers that still fit from last winter so shopping for warm clothing goes on the list too.
The Farmer’s Almanac says our winter will be colder than normal, with less precipitation but more snowfall and while leading meteorologists are not so pessimistic they hedge their bets saying it all depends on whether El Nino develops or not. I shall hope for the best and prepare for the worst (to the extent I can anyway). And while I scurry around like a squirrel storing nuts for the winter I will try to remember to pause and enjoy the cool breezes, beautiful leaves and the scent of wood smoke wafting down from the neighbor’s house.