Winter in a Pandemic

From the “Around the Kitchen Table” Guest Blog Series

Guest blogger: Mallory DeVries (my granddaughter) of Woodside Acres in Charles City, Iowa

It’s that time of year again. The Fodder’s in the Shock and farmers in the Midwest are ready to rest their aching bones. What a season it has been. At Woodside this year, we had a large garden for our own consumption and focused on crafting tasty, pastured poultry. I’m happy to report that we sold every last bird before they were even mature.

Meat and grocery shortages were not exactly what the country had in mind at the beginning of 2020, but here we are again, weathering a third peak of a deadly pandemic. It’s feeling quite dire here in Iowa. The kids have been home since March and we’re all getting a little irritated with one another.

A great source of entertainment has been our laying flock. When the crops are all out of the garden, the laying flock goes from “free-range” to “walk to town if you want”, meaning we open up their already large enclosure and they go to work, cleaning up the garden, fertilizing it, terrorizing the dog and the mailman, and entertaining the entire family with their antics.

As we settle in for perhaps the longest winter of our lives, we take time to reflect on the season and prepare ourselves for the next in a different way: by storing up on the feel-goods! We spend a lot of time preparing our homes and pantries for the cold; why not our minds and hearts as well? A winterizing of the mind, if you will. I’ve brainstormed a few questions to get us started:

  1. What habits can I create right now that will get me through the gloomy dark days of winter? 
  2. What promises will I make myself? 
  3. What can I get rid of? 
  4. How can I be more present during the holiday season? 
  5. What brings me happiness? 
  6. How can the rest of the family participate?

How are you preparing for winter? Leave me a comment!

And don’t forget, my Grandma’s book, Ira’s Farm, makes an excellent gift for the upcoming holidays! Buy it on Amazon and have it delivered (no-contact) this year!

Photo by Mike Petrucci on Unsplash

I am a Clipper

My mind seems to be churning with so many random thoughts, so I guess I’ll open another page and let the thoughts go where they will. I am a clipper – no, I don’t clip recipes or fashion notes – I cut out articles from newspapers and magazines about small farms, organic gardening, Farm-to-Table projects, Diane Connors “ten cents a meal” program. I pick up freebie papers wherever I travel, scanning those pages for interesting people or events. Finally, last week, I looked at the heap I had accumulated and organized file folders in one of those portable lightweight, cardboard accordion files that can serve as a temporary briefcase. Here are the file names: Compost information, Farm activities for children, CSAs and Small Farms in Traverse City area, Ten cents a meal, Invasive Species, Milkweeds & Monarch butterflies, and Misc.

In addition, I have a notebook of small farm success stories preserved in plastic sheet holders. Oh, the history that lies unfolded behind each farmer’s efforts.

A quote from “Ira’s Farm” Pg 54: “To create a self-sustaining farm operation would depend on how he (my dad) cared for the soil—that warm earth womb that nourishes and brings life to dried brown seeds and brittle kernels of corn. His harvest would depend on how he prepared the ground that beds fields of rye and strengthens the deep roots of alfalfa. Those fields would be the key to Dad’s future.”

Don’t forget to dig around in the dirt today – let the sweet, rich soil slip through your fingers. Protect it. The greening of the earth lies therein!