Saturday, February 2, 2019


This morning when I stepped outside to pick up an armful of stovewood, I was delighted to find the air warmer than expected. Maybe as high as 20F, I thought. Almost balmy.

I can generally estimate the temperature within a few degrees, so on the way back inside I checked the thermometer by the door: 11F.



After a series of very cold days and nights, I apparently need to recalibrate my internal thermometer!

There is ice everywhere, and most of it is now under six or more inches of powder. This is not a great situation, and I've been very careful going from house to barn to workshop to stilt barn and into the paddocks to fill water buckets and distribute hay.

There are de-icers in both big water buckets - huzzah! - but I still use smaller buckets at times, and they freeze quickly. If they freeze overnight I can't just break the layer of ice on top - I must thaw the ice enough to get it out of the bucket. Here's how, in case you've never done it and ever need to: turn the frozen bucket upside-down and slowly pour a little warm water over the bottom and sides. Listen for the sound of cracking, and then one quiet thud. Lift the bucket off with a boot - to keep dry gloves off the wet bucket - and find a wide-based crystalline vase of ice, with a core of water that trickles out and leaves an huge ice goblet.

Last week I took photographs from inside these hollow cores, looking out through the curved walls of ice. There's one at the top of this post, and here's another:

Winter can be hard. Why miss an opportunity to have fun?

Today I actually had to leave the place for the first time in a week: get in the truck, deliver the recycling, pick up a book from interlibrary loan, and do some grocery shopping. When I got home in the afternoon it was still very cold but not too windy and off-and-on sunny, so I decided to take time to visit with all the goats and then do evening chores early.

Tsuga says, "Yes, do come visit!
And do you have something good in your pocket?"

While I was sitting in the barn waiting for the last goats to finish their grub,
Rocket discovered bootlaces.

He'd never seen them before, because I usually wear pull-on rubber barn boots. But today, since I had just gotten home after being out In Public, I was wearing my "nice boots" which I bought last month. They are like calf-height, waterproof, insulated slippers with rubber soles. And very long laces. Rocket took one look and knew what had to be done.

Here are Azalea and her little boy Mallow - not so little anymore! - hanging out on a bench after having their buckets of oats. Everyone gets a little something extra to help stay cheerful in this ongoing cold, snowy, icy snap; extra oats, with a little sweet feed on top, and carrot pennies for afters. Even my careful rationing of hay - I feed multiple times in smaller amounts each day instead of the total amount all at once, to reduce waste - has gone by the boards for the time being. In weather like this, I believe it's more important to have hay available to everybody, all the time, than to avoid waste.

The sky looked like this for just a few minutes,
as I was coming back to the house after chores.
I'm so glad I didn't miss it!

The forecast says the weather is going to change tomorrow.
And then warmer.
I'll definitely be wearing the pull-on rubber barn boots.


  1. 70 is balmy. I might have to hibernate if it was 11 degrees. Having all that ice must make things very tricky and take extra time to manage. Be careful out there. Azalea and Mallow -- such lovely names for lovely goats. Mallow is growing wild here right now. My husband says they ate it alot when he was little, his mom would saute it in olive oil. A shame no one has much respect for wild edibles anymore. Have a good Sunday!

    1. 70 is just about perfect, isn't it? If our typical temp year-round was 70, I'd be a happy camper!
      I grew okra for the first time last year, and was delighted when the flowers appeared to recognize it as a mallow! The plants were a daily source of pleasure - and many pods, some of which I sauted. I drew and painted them many times. I hope to plant some of the saved seeds this Spring :)

  2. That's what you get for dressing up. lol
    The shoe lace photo is note card worthy, a logo even. Your goats have such personality, it's amazing.
    Could you rig up a zip line from the house to the barn?
    Stay Warm!

    1. Hahaha - not a zipline, but I have thought about tying a strong rope from tree to tree as a sort of handrail. Trouble is, I never have a free hand anyway!

  3. The photos from inside the ice vases are spectacular!!! They made me feel cold. That kind of beauty is absolutely perfect for winter.

    1. Thanks very much, KB! I tend to take hundreds of pictures of ice - it is endlessly fascinating :)

  4. Good Morning Quinn, I have enjoyed catching up with you now that I have a new computer. I have learn a new program which will take some time. We have had the snow and ice with the bitter cold, but we have warmed up quite a bit. It is suppose to get to almost 60 today to help melt the snow and ice. Now it will be the mud. Take care. Hugs and Prayers from Your Missouri Friend Shirley

    1. Hi Shirley - it's so good to see you again! New computers are always a challenge, aren't they? I try to keep mine going long past the time they are ready to retire, because starting afresh is such a mixed blessing.

  5. It's amazing warm here, doors open and no jackets on! I am loving airing out the house today. Bulbs are pushing through. They are mre hopeful of spring than I!

    1. I think we are getting that kind of warmth today - will make quite a change!

  6. Love those goats. Those photos are so cute (I like Rocket with the laces). In MN, we used to fill oversized balloons with water, freeze them overnight, then chip the top and pour out the water. Then put candles in them to line the driveway. Made for a very pretty design (and it would be cold enough to keep them for several days before it was warm enough to melt. Your bucket reminded me of that. :-)

    1. That sounds magical! It never occurred to me to put candles in the ice-vases, but the ice is so thick, I'll bet they'd last til the next big thaw!

  7. Oh my goodness, I love their facial expressions.


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