One Fine Day

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The weather broke here if only for one day.  Long enough to get outdoors, move some snow, clean the coop and then do some snowshoeing.  The temperature got to a balmy 36 degrees which felt downright tropical.

The snow is deep.  Anywhere from 3 to 4 feet, then there is the drifting.

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Chester always wants to go with us.  I was afraid he might quit halfway through this hike.  It’s one thing to be on snowshoes, quite another to be sinking up to your neck with every step.

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The sky was so blue and the sun so warm it was hard to remember how much we’ve complained about the snow.  Truth be told I love winter when it’s like this.  If it stays above 20 degrees and the wind doesn’t blow I can be outdoors.

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What really amazed me was Chester still relentlessly following us around with that ball after the hike he just took.  He carried it the whole way then sat with the snowshoes in the sun waiting for the next adventure and hoping it involved that ball.

Thank goodness for days like this.  It’s like a reset for your soul.  Spring is on its way it just may be June before all of this snow is gone.

 

The Romance of Owning Chickens

Paul

For years, decades actually, I wanted a small flock of chickens.  I dreamed of  them do their chicken thing – foraging, interacting with one another, hanging out in the backyard, producing beautiful eggs for my breakfast.  It was another step towards producing my own food.  I didn’t come into this unaware of the realities of farming.  I had spent my childhood and teenage years surrounded by farm animals – horses, cows, goats, sheep and chickens.  I was familiar with the smells and maintenance involved.

What I wasn’t prepared for was this –

Ice

Ice, practically having to move on my hands and knees to get to the coop.

From the shed door

Snow – every. single. day.

Poop

And chicken poop, the quantity can boggle the mind.  Even better when it is frozen into the box and you have to use a putty knife to clean it.

Eggs

But this is what it’s all about – fresh and delicious.  Found in my backyard.

140915 Coop in Garden

Soon enough things will look like this again and all of us will be much happier.

Aftermath

150203 Squirrel Tracks

As much as some people hate winter I have to tell you that yesterday’s snowstorm was pretty amazing.  This morning is one of those bright, clear, blue sky days.  It’s really cold.  It’s really beautiful.

We have a red squirrel that seems to love looking in the windows of the house.  There’s a pile of snow in the corner of the house and the ell that is above the window now and it looks in on us several times during the day.  This morning I looked out as the sun was coming up to see the evidence of its peeping. I love how even its tracks to the table are.

I know how incredibly destructive these animals can be but must admit I also think they are one of the cutest rodents there is.  It’s a special treat to me to look out the window and have one staring back less than a foot away.  Of course it’s not so good when the dogs see the squirrel at that close a range.  They tend to be loud and rather destructive to the woodwork.  Fortunately they are oblivious most of the time, not expecting to see a squirrel that close while in the house.

Surrounded by wonder and beauty, that’s so much of what happens here on so many occasions.

Birds and Snow

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You can always tell when the weather will be bad by the number of birds on the feeders.  The chickadees demanded I put them up about a week ago while I was doing a walk about.  I relented figuring it was cold enough so the bears might have entered into hibernation.

Yesterday the activity stepped up and we all knew it was because a storm was coming.  They are much better forecasters than any human being (that and the joints were screaming).  This morning the snow started in earnest at about 9:00 and it went from nothing to blizzard almost instantly.

The birds continue to come, all varieties now, loading up.  Their feast for the holiday.

We have people travelling from all over.  Some are beginning to arrive, some I’m hoping will wait until tomorrow with the snow coming down the way it is now.  They predict up to 12 inches and at the rate it’s falling now I wouldn’t be surprised.

Here’s hoping everyone stays safe this coming long weekend and enjoys time spent with friends and family.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Another Blast of Winter

140313 (1)March – In like a lion, out like a lamb.  I take solace in the fact that it hasn’t reached the 15th of the month yet, there’s still time for the lamb part.

It was 7 degrees this morning with the wind whipping through the field creating snow devils everywhere.  It looked way too cold to venture outdoors for anything.  The feeders are very busy this morning.  It was particularly fun to watch because it seemed to be quite the party.  Many different birds all on the feeders at the same time.

We are working on a number of renovation projects in the house at the moment so this weather gives me reason to stay indoors and work on them.  There is nothing worse than knowing you have to paint when the weather is beautiful outside.  I will get it done before that happens.

Right now I think I will make myself another cup of coffee, think about the chores at hand and watch the party of birds on the feeders.

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A Burning Question

140216 Chester snowshoeChester doesn’t care if the snow is too deep to run in, he still wants you to throw that ball.

The photograph looks a little bizarre because he was moving when I released the shutter.  I typed that line and wondered “Are we even releasing a shutter anymore?”  Are we?  This looks like a double exposure to me but I know it’s not.  Hmmmmm . . . .

Snow

140118 Snow (2)Saturday we had the most amazing snowstorm.  I have been whining lately about our January thaw.  Mud season is my least favorite time of the year and I felt like we were in it last week.  Everything was brown and ugly, not what I want to look at out my windows.  Walking was a difficult slog.

This storm started suddenly.  It was fairly warm out and the snow came down hard with huge flakes.  Bill and I spent most of the day outdoors just enjoying its exquisite beauty.  There is nothing the dogs like more than us being outdoors in the snow.  Snow makes everything a whole new game.

Finches on the Feeder

131226  Goldfinches (1)We are having a beautiful, light snowfall taking away the ugliness of mud that we had for Christmas eve and day.  The trees are dusted and the air is still.  The birds are taking advantage of the feeders today in large flocks.  I watched them make their way to the ash tree that is next to the feeders 10 and 20 at a time then fight for position on the perches.

Initially I just had my camera on automatic but the more I watched them flit from tree to ground to feeder I decided to up my shutter speed to photograph them in flight.  To stop the action of their wings.

131226  Goldfinches (2)Amazing.  I could do this all day.  Sit by the fire, drink a nice hot beverage and watch the birds and the snow.

The holidays are over – today is for me.  As much as I love having family surround me for the weeks around the holidays I really enjoy the day after when it’s quiet.  It’s a time I savor and today has been perfect.

 

 

Winter is Here

130116 (19)From Saturday into Sunday we had about 12 inches of snow in Rowe.  It was very cold, getting into the single digits overnight so the snow was light and fine. When we arrived on Friday night we cranked up the wood stove to get the chill out and banked it for an overnight burn.  Saturday we went and picked up a few supplies figuring we would be snowed in and then went to Russell and Carmen’s to pick up maple syrup for Christmas presents.  When we arrived we found out the beef had come back from Athol.  Since it was all mixed together and Russell was out showing off the nine-point buck he had shot the night before we knew we would have to come back a little later.

When we returned to the house we worked on a couple of indoor projects waiting to go back and pick up the beef.  Bill turned up the heat in the ell remembering that the antifreeze wasn’t good for the temperatures that we were having outdoors and with the stove going we still needed to have warm water running through the system.  I had to add to the bird feeders outside, make sure everything was full.  The birds know when bad weather is coming so they came in droves to eat.  Later in the afternoon we went back over and picked up around 150 pounds of beef, packaged and frozen.  We checked out the bucks head on its way to taxidermy and talked about where he had taken it and the other 3 that were still out there.  It was beginning to snow as we went back to the house but before we left Bill told Russell he was concerned about pipes freezing with the stove running and not having cranked the heat up overnight.  Russ told us he had a two really large BTU heaters if we ran into trouble.

Well, we ran into trouble.

About 5:00 or so, when the snow was really coming down we realized that the heat wasn’t circulating through the ell zone and that we were going to have to do something or we would be dealing with burst pipes. It was 9 degrees out.  We called Russell again and he drove over and unloaded his heating rig (this was big time – ductwork, heater, exhaust piping, thermostat, yeah).  They ran the heat duct into a back shop and set the thermostat at 70, we kept the heat as hot as we could with the stove and found a couple of fans to circulate it all around the zone.  Russell had dinner waiting for him at home so he gave Bill a little instruction and left.  Bill and I discussed the worst case scenario and the fact that I would have to stay to keep the fire going so the water pipes wouldn’t freeze and deal with having the situation remedied by someone else.  By 10:00 the hot water was flowing and we were breathing a sigh of relief.

With all of the holiday celebrations all around us we sometimes forget that these are the kinds of things that are the best gifts. Having friends that we do so much with and can count on in a near disaster. Bill and I returned the equipment to Russell’s shop yesterday while they were at a holiday party.  On the ride over and back we talked about how important our friendships are in this rural area.  Life is different here.  People drop what they are doing to help out their neighbors and friends.  There seems to be more of an attitude about all being in this life together and many hands make light work.  I felt blessed to have them in my life this past weekend.

The icing on the cake was being able to thank Russell on the phone last night for helping us and his comment was “That’s what we do.”

Indeed.

I still think I need to make him an apple pie.

 

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

SnowshoesWith any luck these babies will be seeing some action on Sunday.  The forecast is for 8 to 10 inches and I have to tell you if that doesn’t happen I will be a little disappointed.

The first good snowstorm of the year – especially right before Christmas – motivates me like nothing else.  The snow will be coming down outdoors and I will be baking up a storm inside.  Nothing says cookies to me like bad weather.  It also makes me want to get out the decorations, light the fires in the fireplaces and make the house as warm as possible both literally and figuratively.

In years past Christmas Eve has always made the Martha Stewart come out it me.  I work hard on setting the mood.  I want my guests to look forward to it year after year.  The first year we had it in Rowe I took it as a challenge.  The living room was at the end of its renovation and I used the invitation to the holiday to give that little push to get things done.  MOST STRESSFUL CHRISTMAS EVE EVER.

We took the plastic up off of the floor the day before, there were big holes in the walls where sconces were supposed to go, the panel that goes over the mantel covering the chimney was drying on sawhorses the week before – unpainted and more than 20 people had RSVP’d.  The girls were awesome at helping to clean up the mess.  I decided we would do more of an 1830’s theme and took my Old Sturbridge Village and City Stage theater skills to new heights.  Everything was by candlelight.  Redware was on the table, the menu was traditional beef and root vegatables.  There was mulled cider and potted cheese.  It was wonderful, it was an event and it was all theater.  There is a lot you can hide in the dark.

So in addition to baking I will be finalizing my dinner theme ideas and making my lists. And when all of that is done I may throw in a little weaving.

Library Xmas