After last week’s lovely weather, it was a rude awakening on Monday morning. Water was frozen in the hose I use to water the pigs so there was some schlepping of several buckets full to their pen. Needless to say, I did a good amount of moaning and groaning.

I tried to comfort myself with thoughts of roasts, chops and ribs.

Since I seem to have started with the animal world, I have an observation that may or may not be true.

I have five young chickens in my now-aging flock. They are the result of alowing a hen to set last spring. They are the third generation of this line of little black hens. They refuse to go into the hen house every night. I have to chase them out of trees with a rake. They look like a throwback of the original jungle fowl from which modern breeds descended. Luckily, three are roosters and are destined to reside next to some dumplings any day now.

We are still tending to some job sites in hope of putting gardens to bed for yet another season. We like to cut the ornamental grasses even though some still look good. Soon they will begin to break and blow hither and yon. The spring clean-up of them is a messy job often not done in a timely fashion.

Before you know it they start to grow again in the midst of last year’s debris.

Another task I suppose should be left until spring is the cutting of hydrangea. I, for one, hate how they look in the winter with their decomposing flower heads. I sit on a bucket (wearing eye protection) and painstakingly worry free dead wood, cut all around so they won’t flop on the lawn next year, and remove the flowers down to a promising bud. Remember some of the old varieties like lace caps and Nikko blue bloom on old growth so easy does it.

Annabelles can be cut right to the ground. Don’t be shy.

I told my son Jeremiah that I wasn’t getting a tree this year. He made me a wooden one with its own carrying case. I love it and see it for my holiday futures.

One of my favorite year-round plants is heuchera, also known as coral bells. For the first time ever, mine got eaten by deer. Honestly, can a person ever catch a break?

I was tired of planting bulbs in pots so I attempted to put some in the ground. Every place I dug, I unearthed others. I guess I’ve planted them for more years than I remember. I have been on the property for nearly 50 years, for Pete’s sake!

A young man, Eli Hanschka, contacted me recently about borrowing my pressure canner and for some instruction. He caught, brined and smoked salmon and was interested in preserving it. I was so happy to be some help. It gave me hope for the future.

It’s remarkable that in a so-called democracy one millionaire from a small state can dictate how everyone else lives. Senator Manchin objects to the child tax credit because the parents would spend money on drugs.

Especially rich is his comment about paid family leave: folks would go hunting. I wonder how the residents of West Virginia feel about that.

At least the Republicans can thank the senator for a nice Christmas present. They can concentrate on giving tax cuts to the very rich, corporations, big oil and, of course, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, instead of to those pesky poor and middle class.

Where is Charles Dickens when we need him? God bless us everyone.