Greenpoint: Spring, summer and new life

No one seems to mind that it’s the dead of winter
Three baby goats just a few days old.
Three baby goats just a few days old.

I had lunch last week with a dear friend who announced that she’s been eating greens from my garden every morning in her eggs.

I’ve been pulling summer out of the freezer myself, enjoying broccoli and tomatillos from back in the old days when the sun meant heat and the world had more colors than white and gray. You know, like, August.

That seems a long time ago. We’ve had icy cold mornings, mild afternoons, windy frozen nights, lovely snow, nasty rain and slippery roads.

The songbirds and frogs are a distant memory. Owls and coyotes are noisy at night now, making the darkness sound wild. Inside the barn and inside the house, the animals and humans work to make themselves cozy, snuggling into beds of straw and hay, or tucking into one of the new down throws that arrived under the Christmas tree.

In the kitchen we’re roasting and stewing — comforting hot foods for cold winter days. We’re skiing and snowshoeing in the woods for fun, but even the normal chores are winter adventures, especially after the rain put a layer of ice on top of our snow. A cup of tea or cocoa warms us when we come inside.

The chickens and ducks use each other, and their own down, to keep warm at night. The mammals — oxen and goats — rely on those wooly winter coats they’ve grown for the occasion. Everyone seems warm enough.

While we think baby animals should best be born in the warmer months, one of the goats decided to drop three babies on a very cold, very windy day last week. And the tiny kids, once their mother washed and fluffed up their fur, seem perfectly comfortable in their home in the chicken coop, making themselves nests in various boxes and corners.

I’m still not accustomed to mammals giving birth in the chicken coop, which was all poultry before the goats moved in a year and a half ago. Hens keep their new babies as close as they can, using their own feathers and body heat to warm the chicks. That seems logical to me, as a human parent whose tendency is to worry whether my offspring are warm enough.

Goats have no such worry. They wander off for a few minutes, then come back and check on the babies, who seem quite capable of wobbling over to nurse when they’re hungry, or to find a spot to curl up and sleep — alone or on top of a sibling — when they’re not.

No one seems to mind that it’s the dead of winter.

The other goat is also pregnant, and seems likely to have her kids any day now. She had triplets the last time and is enormous right now, so we’re expecting three at least. Maybe more.

We expect they’ll cope alright with the cold, but we’ll keep them inside as long as we can. They are curious and adventurous, so I’m sure they’ll start exploring even when it’s still snowy and icy out.

Which makes sense, considering how long winter lasts around here. It always lasts longer than the summer vegetables last in the freezer. But we’ll be starting a new garden in the windows soon enough.

Now, it’s time for enjoying the icy world — and the new life that shows up in this time when nothing grows.

Greenpoint appears every other Sunday. Look for it next on Jan. 22. Reach Margaret Hartley at [email protected] or @Hartley_Maggie on Twitter. Opinions expressed in Greenpoint are hers and not necessarily the newspaper’s.

Categories: Life and Arts

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