Summer before last we decided that we needed to get a fish or two to keep in the stock tank. I remember putting a few goldfish in a stock tank when I was a kid and enjoyed watching them grow big. I figured my kids would enjoy that too. So one day after chores were done, we headed out of town for a day of fun. On our way home, we stopped by the pet shop and the kids picked out a couple of koi. We brought them home and added them to the stock tank by the barn. One did really well and the other didn’t survive the summer for some reason.
The following winter was a tough one; there were endless days of freezing temps and more snowfall than normal. We were feeding a couple pigs that winter, so we got two de-icers, one for the tank out by the pigs and one for the tank by the barn where the goats stayed. The wiring in our barn is really old, and so the breakers couldn’t handle the amount of electricity both de-icers used. We had to move the goats out to the shelter by the pigs so they could all use the one tank. Unfortunately that meant the tank that had our little fish in it froze over. There was a period of several weeks where the temps were so cold and the ice froze so thick that it was impossible to break it. We all worried about our little fish and hoped he’d make it even though it seemed his chances weren’t good.
Once the weather warmed up enough that the tank thawed, we checked for him each time we did chores. After several weeks of not seeing him, we figured he didn’t survive and quit looking for him. Then one warm spring afternoon we were out working and took a break to go play with the goat kids. Miley happened to be standing by the tank and all of a sudden yelled, “Our fish is alive!” We all ran over to see and there, swimming around, was our little fish. We were happy and relieved that he made it! He swam laps so happily that the kids said he looked like it was doing a happy dance or “happy swim” as they called it, to celebrate surviving the winter. We decided to name him Survivor.
This last winter we didn’t have pigs to care for so we were able to keep the goats by the barn and use the de-icer in Survivor’s tank. Even though most of the tank remained thawed, Survivor disappeared through the coldest months of the winter, hibernating near the bottom of the tank. A couple weeks ago he made his first appearance of the year.
Happy to see him, we decided he might be kind of hungry from a long winter of hibernating so we gave him something to eat.
As I watched him eat, I began to think about the changing seasons and how seeing Survivor out swimming around gives me a feeling of happiness and good times to look forward to…
Winter is always the toughest season for us, work slows down, our supply of canned goods in the pantry shrinks, the animals consume more and produce less, and just when we begin to wonder how much longer we can afford to feed the animals …
The short days grow longer and the cold days grow warmer,
the pastures green up,
the goats graze more and consume less feed.
The sun shines more and the ground thaws,
there’s dirt to scratch, weeds sprout, bugs hatch,
so the hens eat less feed and lay more eggs.
More eggs to sell and less feed consumed,
means the feed costs are once again covered.
The goats kid out and milking season returns,
making one less thing to buy from the store.
Seedlings are started,
and the garden is prepped for planting.
In a few short months we’ll have vegetables growing again,
canning season will start
and the pantry shelves will once again be filled…
As Survivor finished eating and began swimming laps, I took a deep breath and smiled…
Yes, we did it! We survived another winter!