The Switch was flipped

December was so warm and dry, January has been just the opposite and though there isn’t much snow forecast for the next 10 days, there is some bitter cold weather. Yesterday was comparatively mild, getting up into the low 40’s and we got out our driveway for the first time since Sunday, up the gravel state road that had been plowed yesterday morning, and down the mountain to deliver a birthday card and gift to the local grandson who celebrated his 15th birthday yesterday. It seems like I just drove to Florida where he was born to help daughter out in her first week post partum and deliver an Amish made rocking chair and high chair to her. I love that they are now living within 20 miles of us and we see them weekly, not a couple times a year.

The prissy hens finally came out on the hay mat I threw down for them. When I dug their outdoor water tub out to fill it yesterday, it was buried in a foot of snow that had drifted into the run. Walking on the hay mat, I now sink several inches each time I go over. Taking advantage of it being “warmer” and not windy, I cleared the wet straw from their coop. I need to figure out how to seal the drop down window on the east side for winter. Though moisture rarely comes from that direction, there is no eave overhang on that side of the coop and the weekend snow storm blew in that direction making a small snowdrift inside the coop that melted with the heat they generate and soaked their straw. With fresh dry straw in there, I need to protect it. While tossing the damp straw into their run, a few hens ventured out on the straw surface and out the gate, only to realize that it was cold and white outside the run, so they retreated back onto the straw and hay. Fortunately they are still laying eggs, though now in the quantity they did last summer.

Overnight, it rained for an hour or two and this morning, the snow pack is thin and brittle, beginning to show grass patches through in some areas. Today is much colder again and snow flurries are the moisture of the morning.

While we were in town yesterday, we supplied with milk, juice, fruit, and soup veggies as we will have all three of our children and a houseful of grands for Sunday. I am going to make a huge pot of vegetable soup and a couple loaves of bread, a pan of cornbread (because that is the only “homemade” bread on of the grands will eat) and feed a dozen or more folks dinner. Homemade muffins for breakfast, probably pizza for lunch. Daughter and her two will only be here for dinner. This will be the first time in a decade they will all be here and there are many more of us now than there were then. I am beyond myself with excitement to have them all together.

Snow, snow and more snow

The snow continued off and on all day on Sunday and was snowing hard when I got up yesterday. I was determined to not let the wind, gusts up to 40 mph yesterday keep me from snow play. My ski pants are too big, the weight loss since I last skied shows, but they have suspenders and over longjohns they were usable. Ski gloves, jacket, neck warmer, hat and hood, a sled in tow, I hiked to the top of the driveway to try to sled down. We did that a number of years ago after a heavy snow and ice storm. Not so much luck yesterday though. The snow was over my boots in places and my weight on the sled in deep snow did not make for good sliding. A walk back down to below the barn, I did slide down the hill toward the house, then tried to go down the hill on the opposite side of the house, again without much luck. Strong wind on loose snow sent tiny particles like needles at exposed skin, fortunately there wasn’t much of that. I tried, I quit.

This morning, the wind has died down, it is still only 27f outside. When I took thawed water and scratch grains to the hens, I threw down a thick mat of old hay in part of their run. One look out the pop door and they retreated back into the coop.

I decided to plow the driveway to thin the snowpack in hopes of encouraging some melt off as the sun has come out and disappeared behind the cloud cover off and on. I did a single pass down, just driving the tractor over the snow then used the blade for a single pass. It did help start some melt off as I discovered after putting all my ski clothes back on to take a walk up the nearly half mile to the paved road to see what the roads look like. I also discovered that my ski pants now fit over jeans, that wasn’t possible a few years ago.

Between my pass down on the tractor and my walk, the gravel road at the end of our driveway has been lightly plowed, but is very slick.

It would be perfect for sledding right now. We did that 4 years ago with daughter and grands. It was such fun, but you had to be careful because at the bottom of the hill is a cattle grate over a creek.

The paved road doesn’t look much better.

After preparing and eating lunch, I did more work with the tractor and blade, widening the pass down as the blade is only 5′ wide and at an angle doesn’t make a car passable swath. If we had to get out in an emergency at this point we could, but have no plans to go anywhere today. Tomorrow is supposed to be in the mid 40’s and rainy, so we will have a slushy, muddy mess, but will be able to get out to deliver a birthday card and gift to the local grandson who turns 15 tomorrow.

Thinking that we would have this behind us for a while, they are now calling for either 2 light to mid accumulation snows later in the week or 1 mid to heavy snow depending on how the fronts come together. This is after a late fall forcast of a warmer than normal, wetter than normal winter. As hubby said, they got it half right.

How to spend a snow day.

It started hours later than predicted, but the snow is quickly covering the ground and roads and the “Winterstorm Warning” is still saying at least 8″ maybe changing to sleet later today, with the heaviest bands yet to come.

The woodstove is burning and will continue throughout the day and tonight if I can drag myself down to the basement to stoke it in the middle of the night.

Though the house isn’t any cooler than usual, with the wind blowing outside, it seems colder and I am ensconced in my chair, wrapped in the wool shawl that I spun the yarn for a couple years ago for the Shave ’em 2 Save ’em event, then knit into the shawl, and draped in my Breed Blanket that I spun last year on my Jenkins Turkish spindles and knit for the year long challenge. A cup of hot tea, my spindles and wool, and I am set.

The chili and stew will be saved for rewarming if the power goes out and homemade pizza was on the menu for lunch while there is power to cook it.

An after lunch quick trip to dump compost and give the hens thawed water and scratch grains in their coop and gather eggs before they freeze, allowed me to see that the cover is now about 3″ and still falling fast, from an easterly direction so drifting into the coop through a drop window that doesn’t close fully.

The wild birds are flocking to the feeders, Nuthatches, Titmice, Chickadees, Wrens, Finches, a couple of woodpeckers, and a pair of Eastern Bluebirds that should be much farther south by now. I took a short video, but can’t get it to load.

So far we are warm, hope to stay that way. It is so quiet as it gets when snow mutes the outdoor sounds.