The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.


February on the farm

When small talk runs toward the weather, just about everyone tells me that they're heartily sick of winter.  The truth is that it's been an abnormally cold and snowy winter for our region, but I can't get behind that sentiment.  Yes, my green thumb is aching for spring, but at the same time, there is so much joy to be found in a snow-covered quick hoop in February, in crocus leaves sticking up through the frozen soil, and in forsythia forced to bloom early on a windowsill.  (Thanks for the cutting, Mom!)

There's the sheer rapture of baking my chilly toes in front of a wood stove on a frigid day.  The way my long johns hug me after I dash out of my cold bedroom to find them.  And the way the late sunrise gives me permission to sleep in.

Although we don't talk about it much here, Mark's patented system of positive thought is 25% of the Walden Effect.  So cheer yourself up and find the sunny side of February.  What's your favorite part of this last full month of winter?

Start your chicks off right with a chicken waterer that never spills or fills with poop.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I've always been the type of person who finds something to love in each season in turn, and in winter "no more desire a rose Than wish a snow in May's new-fangled mirth; But like of each thing that in season grows," as Shakespeare put it.

February to me is a month of glorious winter sunsets: that deep red ball of fire sinking into the horizon, turning all of the shadows long and deep blue on the snow. It is a month of glorious quiet, where one can almost hear the deep breathing of the earth as it sleeps beneath its thick, white blanket. It is a month of being able to truly enjoy a pot of hot tea or a mug of homemade cocoa, cozy in wool socks and sweater, a candle or two lit against the early twilight.

But February, unlike January, always has the very first joys of looking forward to the coming spring: the twilight is still early, but the light lasts much longer compared to a month ago. The first daffodils poke a hesitant leaf up (at least the ones closest to the house, in a sheltered area), and the merest thoughts of buds begin to appear on some twigs.

So I guess what I like best about February is that it's all about starting to wake up: I'm still nicely tucked into to my warm winter bed, but I'm starting to stir and stretch and look forward to the coming spring. :)

Comment by Ikwig Sat Feb 12 08:00:09 2011
Ikwig --- lack of sunrises and sunsets is one of the few flaws of living in the mountains. (By the time the sun is low enough in the sky to make a sunset, it's out of sight behind the hills.) But I agree with everything else you say about February!
Comment by anna Sat Feb 12 10:26:22 2011
Stargazing on cold clear nights, days like today when I can be out in shitsleeves and only be chilly, and still enough ice for the ice chests. :)
Comment by joey Sat Feb 12 13:35:39 2011
I personally love the cold weather. The only problem I have in winter is that my outdoor garden doesn't grow! For me, there are few sights more soothing that seeing everything draped in a white blanket of snow. I just couldn't live in a place like the south where "cold" is 60's.
Comment by Edward - If You Can Read, You Can Cook Sat Feb 12 16:02:16 2011

Joey --- Yet another winter joy I mostly miss. I'm such a morning person, I tend to just glimpse the stars at night --- I definitely need to seek out that joy more!

Edward --- I know what you mean about winter beauty. It's also a great time to see the big picture, both outside and (more figuratively) inside with all that time for reflection.

I went to Florida once in the "winter" and remember folks complaining about how cold it was when I was wearing short sleeves...

Comment by anna Sat Feb 12 17:01:52 2011

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