“I was shaken awake by a nasty wind this morning. As I headed out to the barn to begin my chores, I saw that a nice little fall of snow had created a flattering prospect for sleighing.“
– Alexander Smalley, entry in diary, January, 1868
By JUDITH SUTHERLAND
Farm and Dairy columnist
I have often said that driving back the long lane to this farm is sort of like stepping back in time. The peacefulness and tranquility is something I wish I could somehow bottle and share with those in need of a dose of calming tonic.
This morning, while enjoying a steaming cup of coffee, I looked out the window to check the temperature, which hovered close to zero. My eye was drawn to a movement on the southwestern horizon of our farm.
Looking closely, I could see that a horse-drawn sleigh was making its way across our snow-covered fields. It was our neighbor children, heading out to their one-room schoolhouse for a day of lessons.
Anna, Lizzie, Susan and now Henry, in his first year of school, make my day a good one when I get to see them. Henry is filled to the brim with energy and is often way ahead or quite far behind his sisters since he has so much exploring to do.
When I get the chance to talk with them, the young scholars tell me they enjoy school very much. They are often in a hurry at the end of their school day, heading for home to help with the chores, but they still take the time to smile and wave, wishing me a good day.
My husband hired three boys to the north of our farm to come help him clean out the barn Saturday. Jacob, Willie and Mosey came ready to work, driving their team of workhorses hitched to a manure spreader. Jacob backed that team in to the stall aisle-way of the barn better than I could have backed a pickup truck.
Once the first load was filled, Jacob headed for our back fields with the spreader. Willie, not wishing to just stand around waiting, looked at my husband and said, “What work can we be doing while he is gone with the spreader?”
I enjoy the serenity of this beautiful place most in the spring, summer and fall, but I have to admit that even winter has plenty to offer. The snow-covered fields make gazing across the horizon interesting, as we get to see everything from deer grazing calmly or crossing at a frantic pace, geese, coyote, even the occasional fox.
Our backyard is a constant flurry of chipmunk, squirrel and many variety of birds — our English Shepherd dogs intent on trying to herd them.
A world famous photographer, John Fielder, is doing his best to capture and preserve the wide-open spaces of land in Colorado, concerned that developers will erase the majestic beauty, cutting farms in to five-acre plots.
His book, Colorado: 1870-2000, remains Colorado’s highest-selling book of all time. I applaud his efforts, and wish there was a way to accomplish this noble feat all across this country.