At a loss for what the best gift for the difficult to give to would be this year? Fear not, I have the perfect gift.
Make a custom local food basket (or re-usable shopping bag) and stuff it with fresh organic veggies from Enterprise Farm in Whately, or veggies from Fosters Supermarket in Greenfield, or veggies from River Valley Market in Northampton, or Greenfield’s Market in Greenfield… you get the idea… and don’t forget the Tasty Everyday Young Roasting Chicken from Wells Tavern Farm (that’s us!), local award-winning cheeses from Goat Rising and Jersey Maid Cheese in Charlemont or Hillman Farm in Colrain, local coffee or tea, local honey or local coffee mugs or table settings from Daniel Bellow Porcelain, or yummy Sweet Italian Sausage from Wells Tavern Farm (that’s us!) along with your favorite recipes for homemade noodles, and other pasta supplies. How about a local church cookbook tucked in there as well?
Perhaps you sneak in a music cd of some dinner music or after dinner music from a local band or symphony that the recipient would appreciate.
Need a larger gift idea? How about a cord of wood, delivered, from a neighbor to your recipient?
Shop locally, shop thoughtfully and shop early.
Farmer Myles gets his workout during the winter here on the farm. Though the animals are snuggled in hay and cuddled up with each other in their respective houses, staying warm, the water still freezes. And since all animals require fresh, clean water daily, that means we must work twice as hard to hand carry five gallon buckets of warm water to the chickens, geese, sheep, pigs, and piglets (and on really bad days, the bovines, too).
Some water can be achieved by pulling two hundred feet or so of garden hose out the door of our house, running warm water from the laundry room. Afterwards, the hose must be emptied, and dragged back in and coiled on the floor in the back hallway. We actually lose space in the house to animals on very, very cold nights.
I cannot count the number of times that we have brought in too cold lambs, goat kids, poultry, calves and other species, placing them in an old children’s playpen, near the fireplace in the living room. It is almost like the iconic picture of the man with the black labrador dog on the rug in front of the roaring fireplace — only this is not a dog, and there is invariably a bit more bedlam associated with the creature — baa, maa, moo or the like.
It seems strange to some people that we would bring undomesticated animals into our home, but really, we are their family. They are an extension of our family. That is how we think of the animals on our farm.
I cannot imagine living in a region of the country that does not have these wonderful variations in weather called seasons. It would be very confusing to my young sons — make that — even more confusing to them, if winter was a warm as summer. We really need the seasons for the break that it provides in the seasonal cycles. It is great for the land, and the animals and people emerge in the spring with renewed energy. In the the meantime, we will whine about the frigid temperatures and the weather.