Things are quiet in the garden, but certainly not silent. This winter is different than last for several reasons. The first being the chickens. Having them means that I have to go out into the back garden every day. Even when it is negative 2 degrees outside. Especially when it is negative 2 degrees outside. Before I got the hens I could not imagine how they could survive a central Illinois winter without a heated coop. But low and behold, they are alive, and they are still laying eggs (well, we are holding strong at one a day--not sure if it is one badass chick, or if a few of them are rotating). And we made it past the winter solstice, so as the days continue to get longer, we should start to see more eggs again soon.
It is also busier out back because we are keeping the compost going--I have to admit that there were days (weeks?) during the polar vortex last year that I didn’t make it past the back door. And the last reason there is more activity in the garden--which has been made possible by the spring-like-winter-days that keep making appearances--is the wood shop. When we have those 35-45 degree days the excitement gets the best of me and I don the padded overalls and coat and head out to the shop to carve spoons, shape serving boards, and find other kitchen tools in the precious bits of wood that I save from the cut offs of other projects.
Each of the pieces is hand carved using gouges and carving knives. If it is a spoon that I am making, I scoop out the spoon bowl first, and then I cut the shape out with the band saw. I continue to shape the handle and the outside of the spoon bowl with knives, and then start sanding, and sanding, and sanding. I will take of some of the thick spots with a belt sander, but for the most part, it is done by hand. So each spoon takes several hours to make. After I have sanded down to about 320 grit, I put the piece in boiling water to raise the grain, and then I sand some more...when I am satisfied (because it is never really done, right?), I soak the piece in mineral oil and then wax it with a beeswax mineral oil butter and let it dry.
Being outside every day gives me time to think about my garden plan for the coming season. I walk past the heavily mulched garlic bed and am excited that there will be tender green scapes in the early spring.