Last Sunday’s snowstorm caught me off-guard. It is beyond me why I ever watch the weather man.

He said rain for the Cape and Islands. Needless to say, there was a bit of last-minute scrambling to load the trucks with weight and to replenish bedding for the animals. I’m sorry that my pigs are not yet in the freezer. I gave them fresh bales of hay in their house. They seemed happy. They have been doing a terrific job of rototilling and fertilizing my vegetable garden. I have them in a 12 foot by 12 foot enclosure which is moved weekly.

Right before it snowed on Christmas Day I wandered around the garden and noted the areas of snow melt from the previous storm. Those are the areas which will warm up first in the spring. I will plan some early plantings for those areas.

This is my favorite time of the year in the garden. Everything is in the hopeful planning stage. Long forgotten are the bugs, weeds and four-legged creatures. In my mind’s eye it will be perfect this year . . . as if!

I received a book, The Backyard Homestead, for Christmas. There is a small section on successful crop rotations. It tells what should not follow a planting. It is so handy this year since I actually made a map of my raised beds. In the planning I will be able to make some appropriate decisions. Below are some examples you may find helpful as you cozy up with your seed catalogues.

I wonder if I will treat this list as I treat my New Year’s resolutions, that is completely ignore. I don’t even bother making resolutions anymore. I’m too rebellious to follow my own advice.

My chickens have a large outdoor yard. I lock them up in their house every evening at dusk. Their yard is planted in very large bamboo. It acts as a foil for red-tailed hawks as it is pretty thick. I have trouble making my way through the thicket. Imagine my disbelief the other day to find two of my favorite hens headless but still warm in the coop. I put their lifeless bodies in the driveway and waited. Shortly, a small (about crow sized) blue-gray hawk appeared. It had a rust-colored belly. I found my Audubon field guide to North American birds, eastern region, and identified a Cooper’s hawk. I still found it hard to believe it chased those poor hens through the bamboo into the coop. A call to Soo Whiting confirmed the fact. She said they are extremely maneuverable, able to dash in and out of forests in pursuit of prey. Pardon the pun but the chickens have now been “cooped up” for days until I can net portions of their yard.

I’m fond of holiday leftovers. I tend to mix dishes together. For example, I served a fresh ham, mashed potatoes, a butternut squash and onion medley, and Brussels sprouts with garlic. We’ve been happily enjoying everything in casserole form the rest of the week.

Another book I received is entitled, J.F.K. and the Unspeakable, by James W. Douglass. I pity you, dear readers, as there is a plethora of political philosophy for my plagiarizing pleasure.

Thomas Merton sent this to his friends in January 1963. It was entitled, Cold War Letters:

“In actual fact, it would seem that during the Cold War, if not during World War II, this country has become frankly a war state built on affluence, a power structure in which the interests of big business, the obsessions of the military, and the phobias of political extremists both dominate and dictate over national policy. It also seems that the people of the country are by and large reduced to passivity, confusion, resentment, frustration, thoughtlessness, and ignorance, so that they blindly follow any line that is unraveled for them by the mass media.” Wow! 1963 huh?