It’s Candlemas/Imbolc/Groundhog Day. It’s 50° at 6:45 am, and overcast and drizzly. My prediction? Winter is over! Yay!*

*This is not an actual forecast—your mileage may vary.

The long month has ended and my favorite (coincidentally short) month is well underway. What’s not to love about February? I mean, besides the still cold temps, possible heavy snows, and the knowledge that awful March is coming up! In February, at least here in the southern Appalachians, there’s always the possibility of a few mild and lovely days (like this past 60°+ weekend); the email telling you your seeds have arrived; the noticeably longer days; and Candlemas, the end of winter.

I’m ready to move the chickens out of the greenhouse and back into their chicken tractor, so I can clean up and get some flats of spinach, chard, arugula, lettuce and cilantro going. Chickens are disgusting creatures, by the way, but they have thoroughly de-weeded the greenhouse, so except for the crazy amount of dust and chicken poop, the greenhouse is looking pretty good for starting the season. We’re getting a couple of eggs a day now, and I expect to be getting more soon.

Maeby is ready to be bred this month, so I’ll be contacting our friend with the Dexter bull to arrange a playdate before her next heat. She’s a pretty little thing and sweet, too. We’re looking forward to her horns starting to curve—those pointy spikes are a little unnerving!

Everybody else is doing fine. DH and Bernard are up in Boone with DH’s grandsons this week, and ED and I have enjoyed some breathing room. We’ve had a fairly boring week (in the best way).

Collards and lettuce in the greenhouse

Collards and lettuce in the greenhouse

Today the greenhouse reminds me that spring really will come again. No, really.

Happy Candlemas! My favorite holiday of the year: the end of solar winter, the first day of spring, the noticeable return of the light, the Festival of Brigit, Imbolc, Ewe’s Milk. I feel we’ve made it through winter, even though hideous March is still looming in the distance. And even though we are waiting for a winter storm, which, according to who you ask, will either be the Storm of the Century, or maybe just give us a couple of inches of snow. I’ll let you know which one tomorrow!

I’m tired! January has been as busy as spring, what with hog killings, houseguests, cheesemaking, and lots of socializing. I’ve loved it, and it’s been very rewarding, but I now have a mild cold, and it feels good to just collapse tonight. We’ve got a pot of lamb and barley stew on the woodstove, and a few episodes of The Muppet Show from Netflix, and it feels great to be lazy!

Tomorrow is another story. DH built a bed for planting in the greenhouse, and tomorrow I’ll finish digging it, and we’ll fill it with soil and manure, so that I can plant it Monday (Candlemas). Also ED and I are having the big sheep round-up tomorrow. It’s supposed to be 60°, so it should be a wonderful day to be outside.

Now playing: Madeline Kahn & Mel Brooks – I’m Tired (Blazing Saddles)
via FoxyTunes

…is that I love February. I do. Even though yesterday was windy and cold and miserable, spitting snow against the back of my neck and under my clothes, even though it was dark and gray and dreary, today is bright and sunny and warming fast. And tomorrow is going to be 60°. And Candlemas/Imbolc—the best festival day of the year—is past, so tiny little newborn spring is here, and daffodils are up out of the ground, and the quince is covered with pink buds. Today we have 10 hours, 52 minutes of daylight, and Monday it will be 11 hours (we’re having a family celebration in honor of that momentous occasion).

Kidding starts this month with Maggie, who is due on the 24th. The girls and I are so looking forward to babies this year. DH is building a temporary-ish greenhouse for me in hopes that seed starting won’t completely take over the house this year, and the garden is fairly clean and ready for the growing season, which is very unusual for us! Seed orders are going out, though I saved a number of my own seeds last fall. DH and ED are putting together a fruit tree/bush order from Raintree and One Green World; poor ED, who is a fruit freak, just walks around drooling, thinking about all the fruit she plans to be eating!

The piggies are growing, we’re closing in on having the goats’ footrot cleared up, the sheep are ready to be shorn, and two are being fattened, and the big sweet pet of a cow is doing very well and giving around 2 1/2 gallons of milk a day.

And that’s the news for today.

The weatherman is saying that our mild weather is coming to a close; it will be cold for the forseeable future, says he. Not the forecast I was looking for on this, the first day of spring. Sadly predictable, though.

Some things that I love to make note of on Candlemas: The birds are singing their spring songs, and loudly. Jonquils are out of the ground four inches, and with slender yellow buds. Quince bushes are flowering in town, though here, they are only covered with fat little pink buds. Some other little shrub here is blooming with tiny white flowers, and forsythia is getting close. Winter or Carolina jasmine (or “jessamine”) is blooming in Hot Springs, and here on my windowsill. The silver maples are looking awfully red against the sky. And of course, there’s the light; I was outside working yesterday at 6:15, and it was plenty light!

The pre-Christian names for today’s festival are Imbolc (“big-belly”) and oimelc (“ewe’s milk”), so wouldn’t it be wildly appropriate to have lambs today?