In the bleak midwinter

Today is the winter solstice, when the sun sets tonight it will start the longest night. I’ve celebrated Yule (the solstice) for about 17 years now but my understanding of it has really changed since becoming a smallholder.

I started on this smallholding journey because I felt called to becoming more in tune with nature, not just growing our own food and raising our own animals but doing it whilst following the seasons and working with nature.

It’s really worked well in that respect. You can ask Sam or I at any time of year what time sunset will be and we can tell you (we still aren’t great at sunrise, my bed calls to me too!). We can look outside and tell you how much light is left in the day. In short, smallholding has made us very aware of the sun.

The shortening days have been hard on us, especially as we were doing the bare minimum during my pregnancy. The jobs have piled up and now, when I’m starting to be physically able again, the days are so short.

Walking back from the sheep this morning I felt quite disheartened. Sam, Chi and Rowan are sick, Rowan with a very high temperature. I’m the healthiest of the lot but I’m still sniffly. The sheep are just finishing off the last bale of hay, I’ve never reversed the trailer and Sam still can’t drive the Honda with his broken foot. We need to move the sheep on but the rams broke a load of fence posts which need replacing. The bigger cockerels need slaughtering so that the smaller ones can grow. The new chicken house needs a roof. That’s just the urgent stuff, there are jobs everywhere I look and things have started getting muddy.

It feels like an awful lot on a day where my scar is hurting and a sick baby means I’ll likely be sat cuddling and worrying if he’s getting better. Our solstice morn had been bleak, I was up for sunrise but the rain made it a bit anticlimactic.

Now, walking back and feeling overwhelmed, I was blinded, the sun had broken through the clouds and was returning. The days will stop getting shorter. It was a bit of a beautiful and hopeful moment. I enjoyed it for a while and then took a picture.

It’s not all sunshine and roses though. Our weather patterns are all over the place and winter has been very mild so far. I’m fully expecting things to get worse before they get better, more mud, frozen water buckets, frozen taps and snow, but the sun is returning and every day brings us closer to long warm summer days. I’m going to try and hold onto that between now and Spring.

Solstice blessings to you all, may the sun shine brightly on you and your lands.

Dans

P.S. Sam came up with a hay solution. We can get 6 bales in the back of the Honda so I’ll do that, which should last us until he can drive the Honda again.

2 thoughts on “In the bleak midwinter”

  1. Yule blessings to you all – the way you describe attuning to the earths light cycle makes me realise that even after 20 years or so ‘off’ the land the skill remains
    Really sorry you have so many trials at the moment – you will win through
    Hope to see you all in a green field this next year

    1. And to you. I’m glad to hear the skills have remained with you. I do sometimes wonder what would happen if we stepped away from smallholding. Could I go back to city living? The wheel will turn and things will get easier, it’s all that much harder at this time of year. I often say that winter is the hardest time to be a smallholder, the time when you most want to quit, but when you make it through then summer holds so many delights. We shall be in the field as long as there are no health upsets (human or animals), will be very good to see you again.

      Dans

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *