I was never that much of a nature girl when I was growing up, I guess. I always loved animals, but I don’t think anyone in my family would have guessed that I would grow up, quit a hard-earned administrative job, and become a homesteader.
My husband and I have a small-but-growing-more-efficient-by-the-day homestead, and we’ve been working very hard at it for about six years. During that time, we’ve gone from first having just a small organic garden to raising a very large organic garden, a blueberry patch, strawberry beds, chickens we hatched ourselves, and ducks.
As one might expect, doing these things has brought me closer to nature than I ever thought I would be. I hug our Maple tree, talk to the beans and tomatoes, and love hanging out with chickens and ducks. Many of them have fantastic little personalities.
And I am thankful for this change in myself.
In these past years, I have gone from being the woman sitting through endless meetings to the woman who gets to grade student papers at night and spend her days digging in the dirt, planting seeds, saving seeds, and making jam. I have learned to have so much respect for nature and the way nature works to give us amazing gifts. Humans just have to work some and give nature space to do her thing, but the gifts are there and ready for us.
I’m also thankful for the opportunity to live closely with animals and see how they respond to the world around them, to nature, and I have learned that what impacts our animals often has a direct impact on me.
The winter and our short days and long nights here in Maine give me a perfect example. Our hens are older, so they slow down or quit laying in the winter. I can’t blame them. Some days, the weather is miserable. I wouldn’t lay eggs either. Plus, it takes 14 to 16 hours of daylight for a hen to make an egg, so winter is no fun for our hens and means fewer eggs for our family.
But the winter solstice gives me hope for the light—and happier days for our hens and more time in the sun for me. Just as it seems the dark comes so quickly after summer solstice, I love that the light comes back so quickly after winter solstice.
Winter solstice brings the light, and that brings, for me, eggs, happy hens, happy ducks, gardening, fresh berries, and more.
I am so thankful for the solstice. I know the light is coming.
I wish you the very best winter solstice. I wish you more light, long days, plentiful eggs, and a beautiful garden on the horizon!
Crystal Sands is also the co-founder of an independent publishing company, Blue Moose Publishing. Join her December 27 at 3:00 PM at Tiller & Rye for a poetry and art activity for children and parents, celebrating the beauty and joy of the Maine seasons.