Weather forecast?

Years ago when I worked in Virginia Beach, one of my co-workers had a short knotted rope with a small square of wood suspended at the bottom. On the wood was printed the forecast. “If it is wet it is raining, if it is white it is snowing, if it is swaying it is windy, etc.” That was probably as accurate as a forecast can get. We were told it would be a mild and wet winter. I know, technically winter started yesterday, meteorologic winter began a few weeks ago. I disagree with the mild part. We have had some very cold weather already and an early ice/snow storm. Several days, the high has occurred sometime between midnight and dawn with the temperature falling all day like today.

Our farm is in the Virginia Mountains, southwest in the state, so not as subject to snow as farther up the Shenandoah Valley and east enough to miss the Greenbrier and Highlands cold and snow, but still in the mountains. We often get wind advisories with the wind gusting in from the northwest, like today. Our farm did not come with a farmhouse and we built our home here, so it does have modern heat, a heat pump, but we also have a Rumford fireplace in the living room and a woodstove in the basement with heavy stone masonry done by Son1 and DIL, so if we keep fires going for a few days, the stones hold some heat.

All of these stones came off our farm and were hauled most without the benefit of the tractor, though some of the ones in the basement done later did have the benefit of hauling with the tractor.

So this first official week of winter is all over the place. It got up into the upper 40s yesterday, today, and tomorrow and predicted to go into the low 50s on Thursday with nights in the mid 20s until Thursday when we will see mid teens, rain turning to snow, and only 21 as a high on Christmas Day. White Christmas’ are rare here, but it might happen this year. In preparation for this, I went out and wrapped the fig with a lined cloth shower curtain folded to make several layers, then rewrapped the plastic so that the wind can’t blow it open again. We have a rolling wood rack and it and my garden cart were piled high with firewood, additionally, a dozen and a half short logs carried to a stack in the basement, the kindling basket was filled with sticks from a dead tree that came down across the fence. Both the fireplace and woodstove were set with fires that just need to be lit to hopefully keep the cold at bay until late in the weekend when warmer temperatures will prevail again.

I don’t think I want to be outside on Christmas Day, even to make a trip to the woodpile, so I hope enough is in the garage and basement to keep the fires burning.

When I was working outside in the cold wind, I realized that all nine of the hens were inside the coop, so I turned them out into the yard to forage. They will have to spend Christmas Day inside, especially if there is snow on the ground and 21 degree temperatures with wind.

I am glad we are on the day lengthening side of the Solstice, maybe we will start seeing eggs again in a few weeks. When they started molt, they quit laying, then a couple started again with a few eggs a week until a couple weeks ago when the amount of daylight was just not enough to stimulate egg production. I have actually had to buy a couple dozen at the Farmer’s Market in recent weeks.

I hope all of my readers have a Merry Christmas and go safely into the new year.

Gifts of Love

A year or two ago, DIL took a favorite photo of Jim and a compilation of other photos and did a beautiful pen sketch for hubby as a gift.

She is a very talented artist and wanted to do something special for him. He loves the gift and it hangs on the siding wall of the steps to the loft in our living room.

In August, right at his birthday, hubby made the very difficult decision due to health issues to sell his beloved Harley and give up his “Zen” riding as he called it. In the years since he learned to ride, two months after his 70th birthday, he had collected patches, buttons, poker chips, and pins that never made it onto the iconic leather vest and as he was no longer riding, a vest he wouldn’t wear wasn’t an option.

I had an idea as a gift for him. It isn’t a surprise, but done out of love as part of his Christmas. The photo that was used as the focus of DIL’s sketch was printed as an 8 X 10, his license plate from the HD was saved, and the idea came to fruition. A large frame, some black cotton fabric, a piece of corrugated material for the pins to stick into and it was all put together with patches and other treasures.

A collection of memories.

Distant Visit

Son 1 and DIL asked me a bit ago if I could make them 60 bars of soap to use as office and neighbor gifts and I was glad to oblige. They have membership at Costco and we don’t have one near us, so they keep me supplied in the oils I need to make it. We worked out a plan to have a socially distanced meet up that worked around his end of semester grading at the University, DIL’s work schedule and the weather that dumped a foot of snow on them early in the week. This is the second meet up we have done, one in the fall, and today. Our initial plan was to meet up about 5 or 6 miles south of Afton Pass on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but it was still closed as of yesterday from the snow and ice. Son 1 suggested Natural Bridge State Park, less than an hour and a half drive for us, a bit more than 2 1/2 hours for them and it seemed like a good plan. I hadn’t been there in years and the last time it was still a private park. We again planned a picnic, each contributing to it and we grabbed a couple of picnic tables in the sun on the edge of the creek and had lunch. Then took a hike along the creek to the end of the trail at a waterfall.

Except for eating and taking a couple distanced photos of them, we all remained masked. It was great to see them and be able to exchange gifts for Christmas.

The young one, our oldest grand child is now 15 1/2 and it looks like he has grown at least another inch since we saw him in the fall.

He isn’t as tall as his dad yet, but he passed Granddad and he is 6’1+”. It is so good to see our kids off and on for short stints, safely distanced and masked. I can’t wait to give them hugs again. The picnics are icing. It was a nice winter day, sunny and it got up to or near 50f so to take our walk, Son1 and I shed our coats and left them in our cars when we carried the picnic goods back up. It wasn’t a long walk, only about .8 miles each way and not taken quickly as we walked and talked and the trail was quite wet and muddy in spots.

We got to spend about 3 hours with them and exchange gifts to open on Christmas. On Christmas Eve, if it isn’t raining, we will meet up with Daughter and her kids on her back patio to give them their gifts and for Granddad to do his traditional reading of “The Night Before Christmas” still requested by Daughter and Granddaughter.

Here’s to a hope that by next Christmas, we can again be with our families.