Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Not a creature was stirring.

It was a cold and windy Christmas eve. What little snow there was started to get that squeaky sound it gets when you walk on it as the temperature dips below zero (-17C). The north wind howled like a mythical creature determined to survive the worst extremes nature could inflict. I figured I better put the horses in the barn or die of terminal guilt knowing they could have it much easier. So I set up all ten stalls with heated water buckets, fresh fluffy bedding, and a good pile of hay in there feeders. When I turned off the last light before going back to the house the last sound I heard was the happy chewing sound horses make when they have a mouthful of hay. I smiled and walked out the door and into the north wind which was trying to burn and peel my face off before I got back to the house. It nearly succeeded.

The deer are still wandering around and it is fun to try and figure out where and why they go where they do. I let them test the ice first.
The Big Lake gets kind of whipped up when the wind comes out of the east. If I had taken this in the conditions we had last night I would still be there in a thick coating of clear ice, frozen in time and space.
Feeling like I can't bring all the needy critters in the house (it's not an ark) I try and feed them outside. This little guy was thanking me for breakfast the other day and held still long enough for me to take his picture. In trying to take bird pictures I leaned that they hold still for less than one second unless they are nearly dead.
Meanwhile, back at the barn, our former "barn kid" stopped by for a Christmas visit today. She was our chubby little nine year old neighbor when she came over wanting to learn about horses. She is now a beautiful college sophomore and will be working at a therapeutic riding center near Duluth this summer. She had to waitress last year and didn't think much of it. Customer, " There's a brown spot on this lettuce leaf." BK (barn kid), "then don't eat that one." Customer, "My coffee is cold." BK, "then drink it faster." She didn't actually say those things, but really wanted to. I am guessing the customer didn't realize the only things you can count on being green around here are spruce needles and nothing short of a forest fire can stay hot for very long in this climate. 

Earlier in the day on Christmas eve I got a delivery in the mail that really made my day. It was my own personal copy of "Trousering Your Weasel" by the famous blogger and former carrier of the U.S. mail Murr Brewster. It is as awesome as her blog. In fact it is a collection of her blog with illustrations and stuff. My toque is off to Murr for the effort. I was reading it on the sofa, but the bathroom, or bedroom, or even a closet would be an appropriate place to read it. Such a way with words that woman has and her husband Dave, well he is a man of great tolerance and good humor. I salute him!. Buy the book! you won't regret it!

That was brought to you by the Shameless Commerce Department.

Unless your world ended a few days ago, Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

What a difference a day makes.

Even my attitude has improved with the new snow. I put the critter cam back out in the woods not far from the house and just as I started to head back I heard a low mournful howl. I heard the neighbors' huskies earlier and it took a moment to register that it was no dog I was hearing. I would guess it was about 1/4 to 1/2 half mile away in a different direction than where people are. The new fallen snow had put a muffle on any extraneous noise. Always nice to hear our neighbor wolves. This is the view from the deck this afternoon. It is still snowing lightly. This part of the deck has been cleared twice
Of course, when you get new snow you have to remove it from places that you might want to be. The temperature was just a bit below freezing and there was no wind so Stitch put on a hat and some crocs and went out in her jammies to clear the deck. Gotta love these northern women!
Her cat, Beevis the Butthead wanted to go out and watch the birds. He realized that the snow might make him damp and his toes might get a little chilled so he found a good place to watch. He is near a pair of ceramic boots, so the title of the picture is Puss and Boots.
While the sun never showed its smiling face again today, at least the blanket of white will reflect any available light and that should make morning and evening chores a little more pleasant.

After a little time in the Great Outdoors I come into the house where Stitch and the Cooker are putting up the Christmas desecrations. This is a family affair and everyone wants to contribute. Bella the cat is doing her holiday impression of Judy Garland.
I think I'll just stay out of the way and be entertained by the troops.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Winter doldrums

It was a dark and gloomy November as usual. Once in a great while a sunny day will occur, but there are only a couple of them. It is well below freezing and the ground is frozen and unforgiving when if you should trip and fall. We had snow a couple of weeks ago, but it melted. 30 years ago it never melted after the first of November, but it is okay with me that it no longer does that. I no longer need the northern hobby of constant snow removal. Really, I am fine with that. Today was mostly sunny, though, and I got outside for a few hours (other than the usual chores) and looked around the farm. Here is one of the back pastures.

By tomorrow night it should have about 8 inches of fresh snow covering the grass.

We went to fetch the critter cam from an active game trail, but when we looked at the pictures there were none. The batteries had died. This is what it looks like on a tree (yellow Birch).
It was a good thing we moved it as the beaver cut down this tree. I didn't know they liked birch, but maybe with ketchup it tastes better. The little bastard rodent seems to have moved on as there is no current evidence on or around the frozen ponds.

Even our nearby little town is pretty quiet and gray. At least the gales of November have subsided, but they roll up the streets at dusk which is about 4:30pm (16:30) and all signs of life seem to dissolve.
There are always a few bright spots going into this time of year. In two weeks the days start getting longer and once we get through the holidays it starts to get noticeable, especially for me as I am outside at least twice a day feeding horses. Doing those chores in the morning and evening I tend to notice subtle differences in the length of day and changes in the season.

One of the brightest spots of any week is when Professor Batty publishes a new installment in his ongoing serial fiction. It's a great story set in Iceland (so far) with a well-woven plot and lots of intrigue. I haven't been reading as much as I would like to this winter, but this story makes me want more. Look out  Arnaldur IndriĆ°ason, Professor Batty is on your tail!