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.