Winter is Here!

We had our first real snowfall yesterday and we got to try out all kinds of nifty snow removal equipment. Will had a go with the tractor and snowblower and I got to use a snow shovel for the first time in many years. What fun! We haven’t tried to get the car out yet, this will happen today, so we won’t know how successful our snow removal efforts have been until then. The trees are covered in snow and looking quite exquisitely beautiful, especially now that the sky is clear, the sun is shining and the snow is sparkling. The goats have ventured out a little bit but I’ll see if I can get them out to munch on the trees today.

My Mom and I went out last night to hear a local choir sing at a church in Cocagne. The music was lovely and I sang along with the bits I knew (though most of it was in French). It is amazing how much musical talent we have in this area. The singers were singing solos, as well as with the choir, and playing guitars, piano, accordion, harmonica and one even whistled a song quite beautifully! I was also surprised at how many people I knew at this little venue: a neighbor, fiddlers from the St-Antione jam session and even the realtor who sold us our farm were out singing or enjoying the music last night. I am still getting used to how small these communities are and how so many familiar faces keep popping up over and over again. My uncle Peter, my mother’s brother, has a very wide network of acquaintances and I am often running into people who know me (or of me) through him. It is nice having this connection with the community though I’m sure the “smallness” of it will prove annoying at times as well!

Today is the last day of my 45th year on this planet – happy birthday to me! Mom and Dad had a pre-birthday dinner two nights ago and Will and I are having them over for dinner tonight. We’ll have an early dinner and then I take off to the fiddler’s jam. Mom and Dad will come out a little later to listen to some fiddle music. They’ve been coming out regularly these last few weeks and it’s fun to see them out socializing, plus fun to have them listening to me play with the group. It was quite nerve-racking the first time I went up to play on my own with Mom and Dad beaming out at me proudly from the crowd, but I think I’m getting used to it now!

My big birthday present from my parents is a beautiful spinning wheel. It is an Ashford, from New Zealand, and I am quite excited to do some spinning on it. I have some fleece to get me started and once I get a bit of yarn spun up, I’ll learn how to knit. I am determined to not go crazy during these long, cold winters! I learned to spin years ago when I worked in New Zealand and had brought a wheel home with me to Canada. I left the wheel with my parents when I went overseas and my Mom ended up getting into spinning in a big way. Now Mom is part of a spinning group in Moncton, goes on retreats, has a loom for weaving and has pretty much the largest collection of fibre I’ve ever seen! She is my spinning and knitting mentor now, though I doubt I’ll ever get as good at it as she is.

We just got our first hydro bill for our first complete month in NB and it was a lot lower than we thought it would be. We used just over 500kWhours of electricity for the month of November and this is in a house with electric heat, stove, water heater, etc. We are pretty good about keeping the thermostat low and using wood heat when the house feels too cold. I am surprised at how much I enjoy running a wood heat system. I used to think it would just be a lot of hassle but I’m finding I enjoy chopping wood, building fires, feeding the fire and, I definitely enjoy the heat generated! Our biggest challenge is managing the fire so the house doesn’t get too hot. It is a small house with low ceilings so it does warm up quite quickly. I’ve started chopping wood into smaller pieces so we can fine-tune the amount of heat given off by the fire a bit better. The house also holds heat really well and a fire that dies at 3:00 pm leaves a warm house for 4-5 hours afterwards, depending on the outdoors temperature. Of course it will get a lot colder in the days to come and we’ll be piling the logs on a bit higher then, but for now we need to be stingy to keep from getting too warm. Today it is about minus 8 Celcius outdoors, our household thermostats are set at 12 degrees and I started a fire at 8:00 a.m. I’ll let the fire die at around lunch time and it will probably be time to start a fire again at 4:30 or so. Don’t worry, I’ll keep y’all up to date on the development of our fire management strategies throughout the winter – and you thought it would be a boring season ahead!


3 Responses to “Winter is Here!”

  1. jo willson Says:

    You’ve got snow!! And how beautiful the view is from your farm. I’ll be placing my order for home spun scarves soon. The goats look as though they feel right at home, soon the lower branches of the pines will all be nibbled away – and then what will they eat! Glad to see you’re getting into the swing of things with your wood burning stove. We enjoy our
    fireplace in the evening and I chop kindling too. Happy Birthday Alyson! I can see you and Will on the farm for the next 45 years.

  2. MOM Says:

    I beg to differ with you daughter mine. It was the last day of your 44th year on this planet. Don’t make yourself (read “me”) any older than necessary. Mom

  3. Edith Schwartz Says:

    Life sounds productive and sweet. What a lovely community. Happy Birthday, Alyson ! I turn 60 in a few days. : ^ )

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