So, that's Christmas over and done with for another year. I have to admit to being a bit bah humbug (well, quite a lot actually) about this particular festival. For I don't believe in the original main subject of its celebration (that'll be Jesus) and I don't believe in the modern subject of its celebration either (that'll be a gluttony of consumerism).
I did make a few allowances this year - once every few years Sue actually gets some presents. I like it to be a real surprise for her when she does! And we have even had family staying, so it has been the closest to a traditional Christmas that we have got to for quite a few years.
But for me, a much bigger reason for celebration is the passing of the winter solstice. I don't want to get all hippy about it, but the passing of the shortest day is, for me, the start of the new year. Hence the greeting at the top of this post, which you may mistakenly have taken for being a bit premature.
But as far as I'm concerned, I'm actually six days late with my salutation.
Everything on the smallholding grinds to a slow halt in December. If the weather's kind, it's a chance to start digging the soil and spreading the compost and manure. But this year the weather has not been kind. December started with several days of thick fenland fogs before it deteriorated into a succession of strong Atlantic storms. Fortunately we escaped without any damage, but there are times when the wide open landscape of the fens has its disadvantages - it certainly hasn't been the weather to be working outside for long periods of time.
No. Better to snuggle up inside and contemplate the flickering flames of the woodburner.
We've not yet had any significant frosts, or any snowfall, but as the days get longer the cold gets stronger. I prefer the back end of winter with its crisp air and sharp frosts.
Anyway, back to the theme of this post. As far as I'm concerned the New Year begins as we pass the shortest day. It's a time to look forward.
And if you don't agree with me, you've got to admit that the chickens can't be wrong about it! For the number of eggs they produced sunk sharply towards the end of the year and on one day we actually got no chicken eggs at all. (No-one has told the white ducks about this and their eggs have been a godsend.)
But pretty much coinciding with the passing of the Winter Solstice, the chooks have started laying again. Today we got seven eggs, including two blue ones from the Cream Legbars.
Maybe the chickens should decide when the New Year begins!