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.