The snow has blanketed the mountains that surround us. Little children, with Christmas wonder and excitement, fill our little cabin with holiday joy. Stockings are hung and our home grown Christmas tree sits proudly with handmade decorations.
Today our family has been invited to a neighbouring ranch for a sledding party and the children are anxious to try out new sleighs..curtesy of Auntie Bridgit.
This will be our first Christmas, in ten years, where we are back home with family to visit. The children getting acquainted with cousins never before met and putting faces to aunties and uncles names. It is wonderful to have family around ….. Especially at this time of year.
It also is a reminder of all the friends we left behind in our move out west. We find ourselves reminiscing of Christmas’s past and friends dearly missed!
I have recently taken part time work in town as a supervisor at a homeless shelter. It is the first time since becoming a momma that I have worked outside of the home…..but bills (even when you are off grid) need to be paid….and it is a job that allows me to be Jesus’s hands and feet … If only for one night a week.
It has been a hard past two weeks on the ranch. Temperatures dropped to -30’c last week. Our poor goats, even with warm bedding and barns , struggled in the deep cold. We lost a handful of younger goats, the cold depleting them of much needed calories. We have ramped up feeding plans, changing hay, minerals and adding grains for quick sugars. Our first kid of the year made its debut on a freezing -26’c day. It’s first time mom leaving it newly born in the snow. We sprang into action. Bathing and warming the little buckling. Syringing in milk supplement. Poor Mountain Man slept with the little buckling tucked in close…rocking him close by the fire when the night air became even colder. But it was not to be…our little winter buckling, whom the children nick named “frosty” due to his cold birth, past away.
Our cabin, with its still uninsulated floors, made for a chilly week. Boots and wooly socks were a must. Ice formed instantly when water touched the floor.
As we still don’t have a water source we remain pumping water from the creek and pond. Mountain Man chipping a hole in the ice to pump. Water troughs are hard to keep defrosted when you are off grid. I have scoured the Internet for solutions, but it seems that most ideas must be from farmers south of us. Canadian winters are bone chilling cold and ” a ball in the water trough” will not clear ice here…just provide a nice ice sculpture to look at lol. We are using the idea of manure creating warmth and have put our main water storage deep into the barn. On top we have placed half barrels with insulation to keep the water from freezing all the way through. We are having success with this and this has made much of the day easier.
Our homestead has not seen a Christmas since around 1930 celebrated here. In speaking with an old timer, whose family long ago homesteaded near by, I asked where all the homesteaders had gone. Each pioneer homestead near us sits empty. Long forgotten log homes and buildings but a ghostly reminder of this mountains past. The gentleman told me that it “was just too hard” up here. It is hard but we are delighting in the beauty and embracing the struggles.
Today the snow is falling heavily. The little pioneer log cabin sits across the marsh reminding us of days gone by. Our cabin the first home built here in many decades. Our little cabin, warmed by our wood heater, meals still cooked outside on our propane stove (very hard at -30’c), lit dimly by lanterns at night, our diy composting toilet working well…. May not be much by societies standards but we love it here.
We are eager to welcome Christmas here up in the mountains. So excited to share the news of Christ’s birth with those we meet.
Wishing you a blessed Christmas, rejoicing in the birth of our saviour Jesus Christ. May you, yours and all the critters in your barn yard have a wonderful Christmas!
The Prayerful Pioneer