Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Prep and Winter on the Homestead

We are now having our 17th Christmas as a family and like most families we have established some traditions to go along with this great holiday period. We long ago moved away from the commercialism that defines Christmas for so many people and we concentrate on meaningful gifts that dont have to cost a lot of money, we always pay cash for what we buy, and we have kept a spirit of fun in our gifts with a heavy focus on fun things in the stockings. In years past with the kids and grandkids close we made home made decorations, we made cookies with the kids and the smell of mulled cider often permeates our humble home. This is a season for thankfullness of family, it is a season of great cooking endeavors, and communing with our many friends.

Each year we vow to make sure we are ahead of the holiday rush and like every other year, we fell woefully short this year. With family on both coasts, we always strive to get things mailed in time so we dont have to pay priority mail rates and like the last 16 Christmas' we didnt get it done this year but as of yesterday everyone finally received their gifts (at great cost to us!). We have enjoyed shopping this season and I think everyone will be pleased with the gifts we chose. Yet again, I will be working this year on Christmas Eve and on Christmas (you have to do what you have to do) but we will adapt and plan on opening gifts Christmas Eve night and I will get off work early enough on Christmas to still fix a great dinner of Venison and sides. Even when I was deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom during the Surge we spent Christmas together through Skype and that Christmas which could have been a sad and stressful occasion is very meaningful to us. I even found a couple Christmas ornaments hand made by Iraqi Christians that I brought back and are hanging on our tree. Our memories of Christmas' past are pleasant and full of love which may be corney but we treasure them.

This year, my beloved wife wrote a nice missive to me today but made a spelling error and Christmas came out for Christmas 2011 we will always remember the spirit of "Christas" and she will never live it down. The weather is moderate getting down into the 20s at night but in the low 40s today and expected to get into the 50s during the day for the next week with little precipitation expected. After this last year of extreme weather we are enjoying a period of mild seasonal weather and we spent the day outside checking our fence lines and property and making plans for the new year. Here are a few pictures of winter on the homestead and some of our old fashioned Christmas.

Our great state has many agencies that do a commendable job not the least of which is the Missouri Dept of Transportation. Despite severe budget cut and layoffs these guys are outstanding. Yesterday we woke to the sound of heavy equipment laying Chat in our drive to smooth out the transition from our driveway to the highway. They did it for everyone so it wasnt directed to us specifically but it was sure appreciated.

This year we put the tree in the living room where the tree and lights can be seen through the picture window. It just seems right.

While Holly wrapped, Bandit and I supervised.

It sure looks better at night but we are happy to share our Christmas (Christas?) cheer with everyone.

You cant see it here but the porch columns are wrapped in lights as well.
Just to show it was actuyally cold and frost.,

We feed the birds daily as usual and have hundreds flocking to our many feeders.

We ended up with an imersion feeder for the stock tank that fits through the drain plug. It plugs in to an outside outlet and keep the stock tank ice free and the water a little warmer for our cattle.

The oak grove behind the barn is such a peaceful spot even in winter. Maybelle still likes to hang out here under the trees.

This time of year is mudville. This section of our increasingly diverse farm roads is still awaitinf a layer of base rock and chat all the way up to the new shop.

Just a view from the back side of the main pond.

The girls like to lay in a swale in the middle pasture by the back wood lot.
And in the middle of the back wood lot is another swale that we often see Wild Turkeys, rabbits and deer hanging out in. I am thinking its depression keeps the wind off them and they feel secure there.

The back pasture/feed plot is isolated and peaceful and we walk back here almost daily.

We are amazed walking through our wood lots as it seems so open in winter. During summer this is so thick and over grown we cant get through here.

In the back corner of our back woodlot we can see to the neighbors spread and its another peaceful scene. This was taken with a telephoto lense so its not really that close but we enjoy their serenity from afar.

Just another view of the girls from the other side of the swale in a previous picture.
Next year we are going to try and see if the neighbor would be willing to sell us 2 - 4 more acres for a pasture. This is taken directly in back of our back pasture looking north and we are seeking to that far windbreak...

Out to that patch of trees and brush...

And to the south to that windbreak...

Out to about the middle of this windbreak in the picture and then across. 2- 4 more acres of pasture would really increase our ability to practise rotational grazing and we are hopeful they would be interested in selling a few acres or holding a long term lease.

We actually have plenty of pasture for our cattle now but...we could use and desire a little more.
This is a view to the north of our property so you can see we are pretty isolated...we like all of our neighbors but we all value our privacy and its nice not having anyone in eye shot or ear shot.

Next year we will put up the windmill to keep the pond aerated.

Some of our wood lots still have old fencing we need to take out. This used to fence off an old chicken house.

It was a beautiful day today, two days before Christmas.

And everywhere we went we have a following..
This is the remains of the old chicken house and we are still in the process of reclaiming the old barn tin for future use on ...a new chicken house.

No one behind the pole barn shop either...just pasture, more trees and a few cows.

If you cant tell we like seclusion and not having neighbors close by.

The falls and winters here are glorious.

Lots to do here in the spring...future site of the goat pen.
Maybelle is getting big as you can see but she doesnt understand she isnt a dog.

While Boo Boo isnt intimidated by the cattle trough or the cattle at all. We often find them nosing each other.

This is another road I am slowly improving...gotta get a blade on the back of the new tractor which will help a lot.
We never finished fencing this pasture because of the back surgery but will start after the first of the year. We are going to plant an experimental hay crop here to see if we can establish an alfalfa/clover crop.

Lots of work in the spring for the front wood lot too.

You can see the orchard in this picture but it will eventually be extended all the way down the slope.

Believe it or not this road was clear early last year but I let it go and it got over grown again. Its chainsaw and brush hog time.
The enire length in this picture still needs to be fenced...another spring project.

Peaceful ne?

The greenhouse is full of tomatoes..

And various herbs and salad fixins......winter in the Ozarks...cant beat it.

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