Tag Archives: cold

Olio-Week’s end-March 17, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

This bitter week is winding down.  Last night was hopefully the last night in the teens that we will experience this winter.  Spring on the calendar is but three days away.  The garden planner alert today was to plant the peas and onions under cover outside and start the peppers, tomatoes, and tomatillos inside.  The cover fabric from prior years is gone so a trip to Harmony Organics in town is necessary to procure more for the two boxes.  The garlic looks like it suffered some damage from the cold, but hopefully it will perk back up with the milder weather.  The daffodils in town are all laying face down on the ground,  the forsythia, ornamental fruit trees in town are all browned, our peach tree lost it’s blooms.  Our forsythia had not bloomed yet, so we may see some of the sunny yellow soon. The weekend is to be milder and Tuesday actually making it into the low 60’s, so some garden time is in order this weekend and early next week.

For Christmas, daughter’s family gave us an Arbor Day membership which provides 10 young trees, plus an additional purchase for our windbreak and flowering shrubs for the driveway bank.  Yesterday, the first of those young trees arrived and they must be put in the ground within a couple of days of arrival.  The suggestion is to put them in a garden area for a year or two to let them begin to establish fibrous roots and gain some size before planting them in the location of choice.  I guess that is going to make part of the lower garden a tree nursery for now, a good use for that otherwise not in use area.  The tree planting helps reduce our carbon footprint and is helping to re establish some areas of woodlot on the farm, where we need a buffer or where it is too rocky to mow.

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The cold weather brought many birds to the feeder and to the deck to clean up the spilled seed.  Feeding the neighborhood birds and trying to foil the squirrels was an enjoyable pastime when we lived in the suburbs on the coast.  With bear in this area, a feeder has been absent for the past decade, but a small cage feeder was hung outside of the kitchen window this winter, high off the ground and it has been enjoyable to see the fearless little birds feasting.  Granddaughter observed this morning while watching them during breakfast, that the chicks in the brooder are the same size as the little finches, juncos, and titmice.

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The daylight saving time change last weekend has school bus delivery back in the early morning with the sun just peeking over the ridge while we wait.  Once home and on to do the chicken chores, it can be seen over the ridge, but not yet over the trees and with no leaf cover yet, it creates an interesting morning view.

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Shooting directly into the sunrise it looks like the sun is shining through the ridge.

The brooder chicks are thriving, growing little wing feathers and boldly hopping up on the heat table to check out the world.

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Fortunately, the screen on top should prevent any fly outs that are inevitable in another week or so.  The outside brooder coop needs a new layer of straw, the brooder nest boxes mounted inside, the sides covered for protection and the pen surrounding to have the new rabbit fencing installed to keep the littles in and the bigger critters out.  It will be time to move them outside in just a few short weeks.  Hopefully these littles will be grown enough for the big girl coop about the time brooder season starts and the great chicken shuffle begins.  The littles will become the layer flock with the Americauna and the half breed, the broodys will go to the brooder coop  and any remaining older hens and Mr. Croak will go to the cull coop where they will live for the summer and as this year’s chicks get large enough, they will be moved to the cull coop as well to provide our families with chicken for the winter.  One young cockerel will move in with the young pullets to be next year’s rooster.  This year’s brooder chicks will be out layers for the next couple of years before they are replaced with new young.

We love our little farm and the chores help keep us young.

Olio 2/13/17

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

And this is all over the place today.

Yesterday it was spring and the wind howled, taking out the power for a few hours before we got home. Last night it got very cold and the wind howled, rattling the dog run dormer on the back of the house and whistling through the edges of the metal roof.  This morning was crystal and the wind still howled.  Out to start the car to warm up for the grandson run to the bus stop and this was the view.

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The sun higher each day, rising above the ridges in the east and lighting the tops of the other ridges while our hollow was still in the dawn and the waning moon still high in the western sky.

As grandson was grabbing his coat and pulling or pushing on the bi-fold hall closet door, it sounded like someone dropping tinker toys (do you remember them, I do).  Most of the doors in the house are beautiful doors handmade by eldest son when he was finishing the inside of the house, but rather than make a door that opened out into the hall, we opted for a bi-fold on that closet.  This is what happened.

Door broke

 

The top separated from the side and the slates came tumbling down.  Thanks first to my Dad who taught me to tackle most repairs, from replacing the insides of a toilet or even a whole toilet, replacing garbage disposals when in the city and they were used, installing faucets, door locks and knobs, and on and on.  Next to  eldest son who will set me to work on a job with some instruction, then go off to do a different job himself, the door was taken down, the slats were carefully put back in the slots, lined up top and bottom and the door hammered back together with a new glue joint and a screw for good measure.  The pilot hole drilled, the screw set, the door rehung, good as new (hopefully).

Fixed

 

The day’s mail brought the parts to the first antique spinning wheel that was bought.  The repairs are wonderful and there is a second bobbin.  The wheel was put back together, the instructional video watched twice before attempting to put the double drive band on, and she was taken for a spin.

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The front near leg still splays out a bit too much.  When the wheel arrived, that leg had an adhesive spongy material on one side of it, a shim of sorts?  That repair is on me to resolve.  The wheel does spin and draws in the singles, but it has a tendency to throw the drive band after about a dozen rotations.  Some adjustments must still be made, but my knowledge is too novice to know what so it has been thrown out into the ether for answers.  It is a beauty, but it needs to be functional.

For as long as I can remember, each Valentine’s Day, my Dad sent each of his girls from wife to great granddaughters a kid’s type valentine card.  When he passed in December of 2015, I knew I wouldn’t get any more of them, but Valentine’s Day 2016 came and there was an envelope with a card for me, one each for daughter and granddaughter and the envelope looked like it could have been written by him.  I cried, daughter had to open it, my younger brother had decided that he was going to carry on the tradition.  Today the envelope arrived and this was inside, again with that oh so familiar handwriting.  His handwriting is eerily similar to Dad’s.

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Yes, it made me cry again, but tears of sweet memories.

It’s Back!

It has snowed all day.  Nothing is sticking, it is mountain snow showers, but the high was at 7 a.m. and it was below freezing then.  The wind has howled all day long.  This weather system according to NOAA is the system that spawned the major snowstorm up the east coast of the US.  And yesterday it was in the upper 60’s.

My new parka has been most welcome today, as this was school and preschool days, a book reserved at the library arrived and needed to be collected, parts to fix the kitchen faucet came in, a special order from the grocer also arrived, plus it was Spinning Group day and one of my fellow en-actors at Smithfield House Plantation was coming to give me a lesson on how to warp the backstrap loom that was acquired a few months ago.  The spinning group was large and boisterous, having a lot of fun while D and I sat on the floor and got the loom set up and got me started with weaving on it.

Because of the arthritis from old shoulder and wrist injuries, drop spindle spinning, my portable spinning has had to be curtailed.  There is another type of portable spinning that involved a spindle that is supported in a bowl or dish in your lap or on a low table and my interest in learning this has been piqued.  One style was purchased online, then a different style was found on the fiber social network, and in inquiring about purchasing it, found out the gal selling lives just a few minutes from eldest son.  We already have a weekend trip to see them scheduled for this weekend, so I will get to meet this other spinner who is also homesteading a small acreage and pick up the spindle directly from her.  What a fun coincidence.

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The bottom one is the one we will pick up Saturday.

Contrasts

 

 

Yesterday was thick, gray, looked like it was going to snow weather.  Threats of it doing so were made late in the afternoon, but it never materialized.  It was cold, hovering around 30ºf for a high.  Granddaughter had an after preschool play date with her “bestie,” so we ran errands.  In spite of the fact that it is mid winter here, the stores are all dressed in summer finery and all the winter goods are marked down, seriously down.  My wardrobe has a dress coat that isn’t very warm when it is really cold, a ski jacket that is short and white, an ugly pink, nasty barn coat that is warm but not to be seen in public. Just in time for it to plummet into the teens last night, we found a parka with faux fur hood, 70% off, rated to -13ºf (not that it ever gets that cold here).

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Somebody who loves me said, “sure,” so it followed us home.  When we headed out for our Saturday morning breakfast and Farmers Market venture this morning it was 18ºf, but a beautiful sunny day.  It was so cozy wearing my new parka to the market, the only  thing that got cold was the hand that had to deal with paying for the goodies that were purchased.

It has finally gotten up in the upper 30’s and will warm back up this week and then it will roller coaster back down again.  It will be nice to have this warmth when it is cold outside, those frigid mornings that require chipping ice off the windshield to take grandson to the bus stop, those hovering at freezing days when the wind is howling, or when a walk in the snowy woods is in order.

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In contrast to the cold, today the post brought the summer seed.  The vegetables, flowers, and cover crop bounty.  Some onion sets, potato starts, some brassicas and chard seedlings will be bought locally, not started in the basement or the utility room window sill. The garden plan is done.  There are still two wooden half barrels that need repair and relocation to the garden to be filled.  The potatoes will be grown in the barrels. The fencing needs some work, some clean up is necessary in the lower part of the garden that will be sown in oats and flowers this year except for the blueberry bed.  The overgrown peach tree still needs the major pruning.  Perhaps this week when the weather is mild and dry.

lazydog

 

Lets end this post with 200 pounds of silly dog who was in the sun, but it moved and he didn’t.  Note the discrete use of the tail.

Olio – February 3, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

If Phil had come out today instead of yesterday, he would not have seen his shadow.  It is thick and gray.  It looks like it could snow, but there is none in the forecast.  Even the weekend storm threat has dissipated, so there should be no missed school next week.  It is cold, each day this week has been colder by 10 or more degrees than the day before.  It was near the upper 60’s on Tuesday and it won’t reach freezing today with a low in the shivering teens.  We have had wind this week too, though today is calm.  One day, the wind took out our power for nearly 7 hours before they found the tree on the line and did some major pruning about a mile down the road.

With the lengthening daylight hours, the hens are picking up egg production.  Yesterday there were 5 eggs out of the 7 hens.

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It amuses me to see the variation on the size and color of the eggs from the Buffys.  The top two right and the bottom left are all Buff Orpington eggs.  The top left is the Americauna and the bottom right is the Americauna/Buff Orpington cross.  The seller of the Buff Orpington pullets that were to increase the flock must not really be interested in selling as they have not gotten back with me though they have email and phone number to arrange the sale and pick up.  Hopefully the girls will  be prolific this year and provide us with enough chicks to replenish the predator loss and still give us enough for the freezer.

The Fibonacci Infinity scarf is still growing.

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There is a 13 row white repeat to go, then pick up the blue with the white and finally the blue with the merlot.  It is already as long as my legs and very heavy due to it being a tube.  It will definitely be a warm scarf.  The silk cowl at the top is growing, it is about 70% done, only getting attention when I am the car passenger instead of the driver.

The Leicester Longwood, a bit finer than the yarn for the scarf is on the wheel.  Hopefully, it will make a knitted fabric that is more sweater friendly after a swatch or two trying different needles.  This week, my Spanish Peacock drop spindle went to a new home as it caused too much strain and pain in my shoulders.  The proceeds from that sale bought a new supported spindle and bowl.  That is a learning process and some of the soft California Red roving is being used to learn. This still allows for portable spinning with less strain on the shoulders and elbows.

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This is definitely a learning curve.  The spindle spins nicely, but my drafting of the fiber is still very inconsistent and trying to avoid the park and draft technique makes it more of a challenge.

Still loving life on our farm.

 

Graupel and wind

Winter arrived again yesterday.  We had been experiencing unseasonably warm temperatures, lots of rain, and I feared for the garlic and asparagus mulched over in the garden.  The garlic has sprouted some, but I know from experience that it will be okay.  Some cloves might be a bit smaller, but it will still form.  The asparagus, I am really worried about.  This will be year 3.  The year I can actually expect to harvest some of the delightful spears, but the crowns won’t survive if they sprout and then freeze.

Yesterday was sunny off and on and the temperature dropped more than 20ºf between the time I dropped grandson at his bus and sunset yesterday.  More drop occurred during the night and though it isn’t as cold as a few weeks ago, today we have mountain snow showers and high wind, serious wind chill.

The chickens came out to scratch for their grain that was tossed on the ground and all went back in the coop.  Too cold and windy for their preference.  I don’t blame them, I don’t want to be out in it either.

When I dropped granddaughter off at preschool, I stopped and bought more grain to make chicken food, I was nearly out. It was cold in the garage while I worked on that and as I added more straw to their coop to help keep them warm.

Later, we picked granddaughter up from preschool, bought a bowl of soup for lunch, picked up a book I had reserved at the library, mailed a box of yarn to a charity and came home.  Cuddled in my chair with knitting, a book, and watching it snow, I knew that I would have to go out again in a few minutes to pick grandson up from school.  Back home from that, I don’t plan to venture out again.  A cup of tea, my stress free chair, maybe a blanket and I will stay put until time to cook dinner.  Even though I don’t want to go outside again,  the chickens will need some scratch, their pop door closed, and whatever number of eggs they laid today collected.  I guess that means yet another venture into the cold.

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The next couple of days are expected to be even colder.  Maybe the wind will at least die down.

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The iris and jonquils think it is spring.

Snowed in again

A beautiful snow this time, no wind.  Daughter and I took a walk in about 10″ of new snow, no drifting.  By the time we started back, we were getting a little sleet.  The roads near us are impassible, but no need to go anywhere.  Groceries were purchased yesterday, dog food as well.  We did get out for our Anniversary dinner, though the snow started hours earlier than predicted.  Last evening we followed our son in law down the mountain, us in our 4 wheel drive truck, him in his little low 2 wheel drive sedan and he went to work 12 hours early to nap there as he wouldn’t be able to get to the hospital today.

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Ooops, got my glove in that one.
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Our old pole barn
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An old snow covered wheel on a rock pile.
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Snow covered hay rake
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Old fly wheel driven saw in front of our barn.
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Barn and house from the top of the driveway. Not going anywhere for a while, though the 2 4-wheel drive vehicles are behind me.
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Rock wall in our sink hole, several hundred feet away.  We have Witch hazel planted above it and went on a search for it, it should be blooming now, but could not find it.
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Our house in the hollow from the hill above us on the neighbor’s farm.

It isn’t snowing as hard now, still thick and gray outside, some sleet due to crust this over this afternoon.

On our walk, we spotted another very young calf, a little black one tucked between two black cows at the hay feeder on the neighbor’s farm.  Some of her girls look like they are about to burst.  Daughter was calling them Moocicles, with their coats dripping icicles.

We came back from our walk to warm leftover soup and leftovers from our Anniversary dinner out for lunch.  The woodstove is keeping the basement toasty and the downstairs floors warm.  We haven’t bothered to light the upstairs fire, saving the wood in case the power fails as the ice accumulates.  I guess I should fill some containers with water, just in case.

The week is supposed to warm, so perhaps the asparagus bed can be weeded before the shoots begin to appear, the chicken coop cleared of the spoiled straw that has housed them during the two snow storms, and their food and water returned to the outdoors.  For the past couple of weeks, they have mostly been getting warm water inside the coop twice a day, their feeder inside the coop staying filled and with single digit temps or snow, they have been locked in.

I have finished the body of my handspun sweater.  I need to pick up the stitches to add the sleeves, perhaps that will be a good afternoon task, plus I bought fabric to make granddaughter a little backpack to carry her dance clothes in.  She got a leotard, dance pants, and a skirt for Valentine’s day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Olio – February 11, 2016

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

The snow finally stopped during the night without any more accumulation.  Three days of snow showers and only a couple of inches accumulated.  Then the bottom fell out of the thermometer and we awoke to a very cold, windy 10ºf with negative wind chills.  This was the warmest morning we will see until sometime next week.  The sun is bright and the snow is melting off, even though it is only in the low 20’s outside.  When I opened the coop this morning, hoping to entice the birds outside after three days, they wanted no part of the idea.  Their food and water were outside, they were inside.  After delivering Grandson A to his two hour late bus, I conceded to putting their food and water back inside, but leaving the pop door open, hoping that they would finally venture outside.  When I was doing this, I notice that one of the hens had a bloody head and was still bleeding.  I couldn’t figure out what was going on and had no way to treat her at the time.

We took Granddaughter N to her favorite lunch place and on to Tractor Supply so that I could purchase some Blue Kote, hoping to catch the hen, evaluate and treat her problem.  She is one of my smaller Buff Orpingtons and I feared she was being pecked in the confined coop.  Of course, when we got home, the birds were all out of the coop and scratching in the garden, having made a path through the snow to the bare spots.  Entering the garden, they all moved back to the run and about 2/3 of them reentered the coop, allowing me to shut them in and catch the injured hen.  It looks like maybe she had some frostbite on her comb that got pecked or knocked and no serious injury.  She was cuddled, wrapped in a towel and cleaned up with a soft warm wet rag, dried off, her comb and the top of her head treated with Blue Kote and she was re-released into the run and soon joined by the other birds.  I will just have to keep an eye on her for a while.

The daily egg production is averaging 3 now with an occasional day with 4.  With 8 hens, that isn’t bad.  I don’t know if the next few very cold days and 3 more days of expected snow in the next 5 will affect that production or not.  I guess time will tell.  One of the young roos must go.  I have put an ad for him on one of the Farm Animal Groups in Facebook.  If there are no takers, he will likely become soup at some point.  I just don’t have enough hens to warrant two cocky fellows in the coop.

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My handspun sweater body is now 18 inches long from the shoulder.  The pattern calls for 40 more rows, but my torso is long, so I will wait to judge the length as I get closer to the last few rows and add more if necessary.  The sock has not received much attention of late as I have been doing most of the driving and less of the riding except after dark and I don’t play with sharp metal sticks with tiny stitches in the dark.

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I found out last night that I will be a vendor at this month’s spinning retreat, so last night the newest batches of soap were banded.

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The soaps were reorganized into unscented and scented boxes as I am only allowed to bring the unscented ones into the conference room, the rest will be in my room for interested parties.  The lotion bar tins and salve tins and jars were reorganized, the cute little blackboard identification tags were sorted, some reworked, so that I will take a supply of product and still have room for my spinning wheel, fiber, knitting, suitcase, a cooler and space for my roommate’s items she will also vend, her wheel, fiber, suitcase and other miscellany.  I am ready for a few days of fun with this adult group.  I am hopeful to sell enough of my goods to pay for the weekend, at least strongly supplement it and leave me a little to buy from other vendors.  I haven’t been to the Knit night group in months with the various activities involving the family at night and haven’t been to the Spinning Group since just before Christmas.  Knitting, spinning and reading are my escape from the daily routine and they should be a priority for me to take care of me but as a wife, parent, and grandparent, that is often not the case.

Pre Prep and Deliciousness

I tend to cook from scratch.  Rarely do we purchase “mixes.”  J loves pumpkin pie with holiday meals and it drives me crazy that so many pumpkins are sold in the fall, set on porches and left to spoil.  And when you look for a recipe for pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread, it calls for canned pumpkin.  We grow pumpkins each year and the ones that were harvested in the fall of 2014 were such good keepers, that I cooked the last 4 small ones yesterday to use to make the two pumpkin pies that will be baked on Wednesday.

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None of the remaining pumpkins from last year were very large, just slightly larger than a grapefruit each, and cut in half, they all fit on my huge baking sheet.  The chickens benefitted from the raw pumpkin seed and cooked skins with the small amount of remaining meat that I couldn’t scrape out.  The 4 pumpkins only made just under 6 cups of cooked puree.  This will be more than enough for two pies.

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While the pumpkins were baking, I started a couple of loaves of bread.  I used to bake all of our bread, but A, the 8 year old grand that lives with us, prefers what I call balloon bread, the soft gummy square commercial loaves.  I keep trying to make a bread that is light enough to suit him.  The rest of us love a good hearty rustic loaf.

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My wooden bread bowl was put to use, more unbleached bread flour than whole wheat used and the loaves came out almost lighter than I prefer.

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Two beautifully risen,  golden loaves. . . and still not to his liking.  But the rest of us polished off a whole loaf with our dinner last night.  SIL will enjoy making his lunch sandwiches on the other one this week.

I need more flour, but with having 9 folks in the house for most of this week, I will do another baking when the oven is hot for pies on Wednesday.  We will need it for lunches and breakfasts later in the week.

Last night the bottom fell out of the fall thermometer. It isn’t as cold as we will see and it will moderate in a couple of days, but it was 26f when I got up and the chicken water is frozen for the first time this season. A has been dispatched to the bus, N has been fed and dressed, chickens have been fed, but I need to take some warm water over and see if I can thaw their water pail.

If it warms enough, I need to put urethane on the Beard and Apothecary gift boxes that I’m putting together for the December 12th Winter Holiday Market. If not, J and I still need to go to the bookstore to get N a book for her birthday tomorrow.

 

All closed up

Our entire region is shut down. No school, many businesses, and community services are closed today. The region doesn’t handle more than a couple of inches of snow, especially when they can’t pretreat the roads. Our 4 wheel drive SUV would probably be able to get up our gravel driveway and our gravel road but the paved road is likely an ice and snow covered downhill slick.
The sun is trying to come out, broken clouds still flurrying, the wind is howling and blowing the snow we got everywhere. The official count for our community was 9″ but going over to do chicken chores, the snow in the yard is over my barn boots and they are 11″ high.

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Because the chickens have been cooped up for three days, I attempted to get them outside. Spoiled hay was spread in the run and food put outside in a pan so it wouldn’t disappear 11″ down.

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Yesterday they fouled their water pan I used so I could knock the ice out of it each time I went to give them more, so today I hung a waterer inside and spread a new foot of straw in the coop. Between scratching for feed and kicking it out when the coop door is open, the foot thick layer from last week was only a couple inches deep of finely broken straw.
In spite of my efforts, they would go out the return immediately to the coop. They are still laying, we are getting 6 top 8 a day.
The grands want to go play in the snow, but with it in the teens and the wind blowing, it is a bit too cold for much time outside.
We have had our good snow, now I’m ready for spring. I can’t even imagine being in Boston this winter.