A Country Christmas Weekend

A Christmas nativity scene, Photo by Al Elmes on Unsplash.
A Christmas nativity scene, Photo by Al Elmes on Unsplash.

Last year, Christmas was so cold and snowy that we had to postpone Christmas dinner for a few days because no one could drive up the mountain. That was far from the case this year.

When I walked the dog on Christmas morning, the sky was cloudless and bright blue. The sun warmed us as we hiked up the mountain. When I fed the chickens–because people with livestock don’t get a day off–they came pouring out of their coop to enjoy the sunshine. Their Christmas present was a handful of grapes that were left over from our Christmas Eve dinner.

If you have never seen a chicken eat a grape, it’s a hoot. They peck at the grape and it rolls away. The chicken chases it, hoping another chicken doesn’t beat them to it. There were enough grapes for all, but it’s still fun to watch as they rolled across the chicken run. Grapes are a real treat for the girls. They ignored the sweet potato peels and other dinner scraps to eat the grapes first.

Later, my daughter helped me mix up a batch of bee food while my wife baked our Christmas ham. I filled both the hive-top feeders and left some sugar water out for open feeding. The bees were flying about and enjoyed the open feeding despite the rising wind.

That night, we got some much-needed rain.

My wife gave me a new pocket knife to replace my old favorite that got lost. My daughter gave me a copy of Story’s Guide to Raising Rabbits, which will prove useful as I consider raising rabbits in 2022. I’ll be eating chocolate for a few more days.

Boxing Day

The day after Christmas seemed even warmer due to the lack of wind. Even a light fleece was too warm, so I stripped down to a T-shirt to walk the dog. The bees were investigating the open feeder, which was empty. I filled it back up, and the bees were lining up to get fed within twenty minutes. I had to fill it again around 2 p.m. because they had drained it. It was good to see that all three hives still had bees flying.

While walking the dog, I saw a single dandelion growing in my neighbor’s yard. It was in a sunny spot that must have fooled the plant into thinking spring had arrived. If this warm weather continues, we’ll have more blooms. While I would not mind some green for the chickens, I hope none of the trees begin to leaf out or bloom. The maples are one of the first to bloom, and if they come out prematurely, the blooms will get killed off when freezing temperatures return. This would be bad for the trees and for our bees. Maples are one of their earliest sources of food when the hives start to rebuild for the spring and summer.

Christmas Chores

The upstairs fire has been out for several days. We let the fire in the basement stove die also, making it a good time to clear out the ashes. I sprinkled them on the side of the mountain where the soil sampling we did last year says it needs lime. Ashes will be almost as good.

Then we carried in more firewood, another unending chore. At least my daughter was on hand to help. I expect it will get cold again, and we’ll be happy to have a large, dry stack of logs indoors. Meanwhile, we are saving on firewood.

We also took advantage of the warm weather to add twelve bags of mushroom compost to one of our raised beds. It was nowhere near enough. We’ll be buying more dirt and soil amendments on our next trip to town. By buying it in stages, I am spreading out the cost. I just have to hope inflation doesn’t cause it to go up in price.


I had leftovers for dinner last night. I expect I will be eating ham sandwiches, ham and cheese omelets, and possibly ham salad over the course of the next week. (This is no problem as I like ham.) Then the bone will go into soup. We joke about not needed to go to the grocery store the entire month of January, but I expect we will actually skip it for a couple weeks unless my wife gets desperate for greens.

This is a week of rest and recovery for us after my youngest daughter’s visit and before my oldest daughter and her family visits next weekend. Then we get a second Christmas, this one with the grandbaby.

Sometimes it’s good to spend a weekend offline, with no news or talking heads expressing outrage at topics that don’t really affect our day-to-day lives. I tuned back in to find that Biden doesn’t seem to know that “Let’s Go Brandon” is an insult. On a more positive note, the Russians have withdrawn ten thousand troops from the Ukraine border. If they continue to do so, that will be good for Europe and the rest of the world.

I hope all of my readers got to enjoy a peaceful weekend.