Resilience: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
We just had a major snow event (as in, a foot and a half of snow). And I survived. The Weather Witch drew no blood. Well, some blood was spilled, but it was from common carelessness, and certainly not an elevator full of blood.
I am frankly surprised I did as well as I did. Country Kitty told me that, back during the Snowpocalypse of 2010, they didn't get off the farm for TWO WEEKS. And the forecasts for the Lovelanche (Love+Avalanche... I totally think that is a stupid name for the storm, but the interwebs never lie.) were showing up to two feet of snow. I should have been full of dread.
But I wasn't. I had stocked up ahead of time, so we had plenty of milk and fruit. We already have a well stocked freezer, and we buy TP at Costco, so we are set well into May. We had already purchased our generator and tested it. I felt... prepared. Ish. All I had to do the day before the snow was to prepare the chicken coop, and figure out some way to cover the generator in the event we needed to run it while it was snowing.
Wednesday, the day before the Lovelanche was to begin, didn't begin particularly well. The recycling center was full, so I had to bring home two big bags of recycling. The sump pump outflow hose had frozen again... and there was a wading pool in the cellar. It should have been a relatively small issue... but it wasn't. I had to pour hot water into the outside end of the hose and move it around to get the ice chunks loosened. I also hauled out my nice, professional grade hair dryer in an attempt to warm the hose. No dice. I eventually had to set up the old sump pump, attach it to a garden hose, and snake it up the cellar stairs, out the dining room window, and across the yard. River in the middle of the front yard? Check. I had muddy boots and shirt, wet gloves, and an open window in 30 degree temps. But dammit, I no longer had an increasing flood in the basement.
It didn't take long to deal with the chickens, but I still hadn't begun the genny shelter, and it was already long after noon. I had already decided that I would use part of the dismantled scaffolding in the corn crib. But I had to figure out how to cover that structure in such a way that two feet of snow wouldn't destroy. I also had to move the frame and cross braces all by myself. It was exhausting, and my muscles were trembling by the time I had carried them all the way to the location we'd picked.
After lunch, I had the pleasure of trying to erect scaffolding by myself. (NOT a one-person job.) Moving it into place over the generator was hilarious. By the time the bus delivered my son, I had it placed, and was glad to accept the Boy's help in building the roof. I tell you, there was something comical about an exhausted woman and a 7 year old carrying a big sheet of 3/4" plywood all the way across the semi-icy barnyard and back yard, and then maneuvering it to the generator site.
I had to use more brains than brawn to get it in place--there was no way the Boy could help me lift it up to the cross braces (I needed a raked ceiling, so the snow could slide down rather than pile up.) I managed, and then we had the excellent adventure of extracting the big tarp from the ice and frozen cardboard on top of it. (Frozen cardboard is terrifyingly heavy AND inflexible. Never, ever, kick it.) Getting the tarp in place was also hilarious, although my sense of humor was too tired to laugh by then. But, here you see the fruits of my labor! It wasn't pretty, but it did the job!
But, there was an unexpected bit of good news. In dealing with the sump pump, I was outside under the front porch, wiggling that hose back and forth as I tried to loosen the ice, when I heard a rustling in the leaves under the porch. I know we get skunks sometimes, so I backed away, and then took a careful look around the space. As my eyes adjusted, I saw a brownish shape moving. And then I recognized it. It was Acid.
I don't know how that damn chicken survived 5 nights outside in below freezing temperatures, all by herself. Nor do I know what she was eating, or why she didn't join the other girls when they were outside. But she was there, healthy and more than willing to come out from under the porch. I walked her back to the coop, and she hopped inside and seemed quite ready to eat.
So, we have seven girls again, but I notice that the hen-pecking has quieted. She is more confident now, and not as scared of her shadow as she was. It is amazing just how tough the smallest chicken can be.
Now, the odd thing about her return was, that I was surprised, and that was all. I was happy to return her to the flock, but I wasn't overjoyed, or even joyful. I tried to tell myself that I had already accepted her death, and that she was not a pet. I started wondering if I had become callous.
But then something occurred to me. Acid had survived all that time on her own. She came through her experiences, and none the worse for wear. She'd figured out how to stay hydrated, she found her own food to eat, and she found a safe shelter.
I've survived too. I've already faced so many experiences here on the farm that, at the time, seemed like the hardest lessons I've had to endure. Each episode seemed enormous: Gandalf's death, the icy driveway, the grumpy sump pump, the isolation. And yet each of those experiences helped me to get through that preparation day with only a little blood, plenty of sweat, and few tears. That preparation day was just another day.
I have accepted the reality of life out here. The driveway will be an icy nightmare, therefore, I have to park the cars at the top of the hill, really close to the road. Having free-range chickens means that I will lose some. The arctic cold means the sump pump may freeze, so I have to be prepared to do what needs to be done to remove the water. And sometimes... sometimes you just have to embrace the inner redneck and run a garden hose out your dining room window.