Tag Archive | winter

Winter Has Arrived

Overnight we received the first measurable snow of the winter.  I’d guess it’s about 7″.  The stuff really came down for a few hours.  I especially like the way the heavy snowfall dampens the sound of traffic on the road running past the farm.  After a while, the highway empties and the road noise of any stray slow moving vehicle is muffled.  I can almost imagine we live in the country and not beside what has become, in my lifetime, a major thoroughfare.

This may look chilly, and the ground beneath is frozen, but the air temperature is nearing 32F.  With a ten-day high of 38F forecast for today, it looks like the snow may be here to stay.  Next week the weather prognosticators call for more snow.  Several days of snow.  Yesterday my husband and I worked from mid-morning till near dark to finish all the little chores that must be done before snow arrives.  We sat, smugly content, and watched the white pile up.  Now I look forward to a long winter’s rest disturbed only by a few barn chores, some snow plowing and the occasional jaunt outside for cold weather exercise.

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Enough With the Snow, Already!

tim snow mtWith over three feet of snow on the ground, we’ve got plenty, thanks!  Here’s my husband, Tim, on top of one of the mountainous snow piles in our yard.  Holly and Otto, the German shepherds, are always ready to play.  Since this photo was taken, the pile has gotten higher.  I topped it off yesterday with the snow that came off the lower roof of the house.  Here’s what the front of the house looked like before I cleared the debris.

front of houseOur new tractor with the bucket loader is earning its keep, for sure.  I would have left this snow piled up to the windows except another monster storm is forecast for Wednesday.  A nor-easter with up to 2 feet more white stuff is bearing down on us.  Oh, joy.  Not sure where I’ll put any new snow.  Running out of room.  Luckily, the forecast after Wednesday is for temps in the high 30s and into the 40s for the foreseeable future.  Finally, maple syrup season will arrive!  It’s about a month late this year.  The weather is mostly sunny, but too cold for sap to run.

Here are some of the eleven wild turkeys that have been visiting the area beneath the bird feeders on a regular basis.  Poor things must be very hungry.  Spring, please hurry!

11 turkeys

 

 

Groundhog Day

Lia Lion

 

Ok, she’s not dressed as a groundhog, but close enough.  And the picture of Lia has as much to do with Groundhog Day as woodchucks have to do with predicting the weather.  Why do such foolish traditions persist in our speed-of-light modern age?

The origins of Groundhog Day are buried in the swirling mists of our past.  February 2 is Candlemas, a date exactly mid-way between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox.  Superstitious Europeans believed cloudy weather this day meant an early spring and sunny weather indicated unremitting blasts of wintery weather for at least six more weeks.  Should the hedgehog see his shadow on Candlemas, winter would be long.

Once Europeans settled in North America, the groundhog was substituted for the hedgehog.  Here in Maine, all the woodchucks are in deep hibernation and there is no danger of their peeking from holes for at least six weeks, anyway.  The holes are buried under two feet of snow and ice.

Today at the farm, it is cloudy and above freezing.  A storm came through overnight and left about three inches of wet snow.  Will the remainder of winter be mild?  Possibly.  If the past few decades are any indication, winter ends earlier every year.  February and March are often quite mild, with frequent chilly, dry Aprils.

To further influence the weather and encourage early warming, I offer these shots of spring blooms waiting in my garden beneath the snow. Happy Groundhog Day!

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Ice, Deep Freeze, A Thaw and New Eggs

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Coating of ice on every surface

So far, this winter has been trying our mettle here in Maine.  An ice storm right before Christmas deposited 1/4″ of ice on every surface, coating branches, weighing down trees and causing power outages.  Bone cracking cold followed with the thermometer plunging to 20 below zero F four nights ago.  The farm animals needed extra care that night to stay warm.  The thermometer didn’t budge beyond 4 degrees during the daylight hours for several days.

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Newly laid Ameraucana pullet egg on right, commercial grade A large egg on left

One bright note:  on the coldest day of the winter, one of my pullets began laying and we got our first egg from the new hen flock.  It was frozen and cracked before I found it, but still made a lovely fried egg sandwich.  Another little hen has joined in, her first egg is pictured to the right.  We’ve gotten three new eggs. The pullets were on the nest when I did chores this morning, so more eggs should be waiting for me. I’ve been expecting the laying to start for nearly two months now, so the relief of no longer having to eat store-bought eggs is immense.

Yesterday, the temperatures climbed to a shocking 42 degrees and the rain poured all day.  Finally, the ice burden was relieved from the poor trees, power lines and roofs.  One’s body becomes so accustomed to the cold that 40 degrees feels tropical.

Much of the country is now dealing with an “polar vortex” that is swirling arctic air all the way into the deep South.  Brrrr.  Luckily, Maine will be spared what the Mid West is enduring, wind chills to 40 and 50 below zero.

The Jet Stream must be flowing directly over us because the endless, constant, dull roar of high level winds drills its way into the house and slowly, over the hours, drives me crazy.  Time to play some music to drown it out.

Spring, sure hope you hurry, or at least the January thaw!

Natural Holiday Decorations

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At Phoenix Farm the decorations are kept as natural as possible. For a festive outside arrangement by the front door I gather softwood boughs of white pine, hemlock and sometimes balsam. Then I cut branches about 2 feet long from the staghorn sumac with large bunches of red berries. For a final touch I trim some 2-3 foot lengths of red osier dogwood with bright red bark.

A large planter full of dirt stays by my door year round. In season it contains annual flowers, mums or the tree branch decor of winter. The ends of the softwood boughs, sumac, and dogwood are pushed down into the dirt to form a stable design that withstands the weather. This looks very pretty frosted with a couple inches of snow.

First Snowstorm

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The first major snow fall of the winter came overnight with about 8″ of soft coating.  The flakes are just tapering off at mid-morning.  This storm took the weather people by surprise.  The predictions were for rain or just a dusting of whiteness. a4

Every fence post wears a pointed pure white cap.  The softwood boughs dip beneath the weight before a breeze stirs to send cascades of icy powder to the forest floor.  Hungry birds flit about the feeders, snatching one seed at a time to eat in safety from a protected branch.  This is snow dog weather.

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chickadee at the feeder

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Holly in the snow