I love the first real snow fall of the year. Everything looks so clean and neat, and the world is quiet. The birds aren’t making any noise, the few deer that took off running when I let Pico out hardly made a sound, and tree limbs are hanging low, heavy with fresh wet snow.
This is isn’t the first snow of the year, but it’s the first one that might stick and be around for a little while. Every night before now that I’ve had a fire, I didn’t worry about keeping it going all night. The new stove cranks out heat, especially when it’s loaded with the dead elm that my friend dropped off for me. In fact, tonight will the first night that I’ve had a fire where I won’t be going to sleep with a few windows open.
It was gray and cold all day, but above freezing. It rained and misted and was foul, but then the snow finally started to fall. We’ve all known that winter was coming, so there is no surprise here, but hoping for a nice easy winter like the one two years ago may be asking for too much. The skier in me wants to see the snow fly, but the off-grid, no plow-guy-lined-up me wanted a nice easy winter. With all the rain we’ve been getting though, it was only a matter of time until it turned into snow. So be it.
After letting the chickens out yesterday morning, I went to wash my hands. That’s become my morning ritual, mainly because the chickens are kind of gross. I mean, they poop a lot, and there’s no way of taking care of them without getting some on my hands.
The big white rain barrel I’ve kept all summer has been great for this, and I even took to leaving a bar of home-made soap out on the rock next to the barrel. Then the soap started to disappear. I don’t know what was taking it or why, but I still have quite a few bars left to get me through for a while.
The problem yesterday wasn’t a lack of soap though. I brought some out with me to use right away, but when I tried to turn the handle on the barrel, it didn’t move. The water wasn’t frozen solid, but the handle and nozzle were. I had to bring my soap back inside and wash up. Not that big a deal, you might think, but to me this means a lot.
First, my wash water is gone for the winter. I’m back to using my precious drinking water to wash, and to give water to the chickens. No more getting all nasty and just washing up outside. Now I have to somehow pre-wash my hands so that my drinking water jug doesn’t get contaminated. I have a feeling that I’ll be melting a lot of snow on the stove this year.
The other thing that I’ll miss about the rain barrel is the feeling of back up and security. This was not water that I would drink, but coming off the metal porch roof, it was fine enough for the chickens, cats and Pico. It would also have been fine for washing dishes if it really came down to it as well.
Now, it’s not that I’ll be hurting for water, there are a few places where I can fill my jug, so I’m not losing any sleep over the loss of the rain barrel. But it was a stark reminder of the comforts of summer, and the lack of ease of winter.