Up until mid-February or so, we had a very mild winter. Temps were often chilly, but the ground was bare.
Here's the orchard on January 25, for example:
Our hazelnuts had catkins on them...
...and all our young fruit trees had winter buds.
Mr. Darcy could carry branches along the road bare of snow.
Just before Valentine's Day, the pattern continued: cold and sunny and dry.
The morning sun shone through golden ice crystals.
And still the weather stayed dry.
And then the great Celestial Weather Machine did a total 180 degrees, and winter came.
It started on February 14 with a powerful snow squall that dumped several inches of snow. We actually had thunder and lightning during the snowstorm -- that was something to see!
(That's Mr. Darcy lying down in the road.)
Then the skies cleared and the temperature dropped like a rock. We had three days of -6F temps.
In anticipation of the cold temps, I cleaned out the chicken coop to make sure the birds all had soft, fluffy straw for warmth.
I think the ladies appreciated it.
I was worried a calf would be born during this cold snap, but thankfully all the cows held off.
That calves that were born before the cold snap -- Hickory and Ferdinand -- did fine. It was a funny thing to see such tiny calves cavorting in the bitter cold and snow.
The bellies full of warm milk helped.
During the cold snap, all the animals activated their solar panels and stood broadside to the sun.
Then the temps rose and the ripping snow came roaring back in.
And then came the dreaded weather prediction of wind -- supposedly gusts up to 60 mph. When we lose power, we lose water. Having been through the November 2015 windstorm that devastated our region, we took no chances. We filled oil lamps, put fresh batteries in all the flashlights, and topped off household water.
We filled a second livestock tank as well. We knew it would freeze, but not solidly, and we could knock the ice out.
We both took showers, and I caught up on laundry.
Thankfully the power stayed on during that windy day, but that doesn't mean we didn't have other windy days -- which, coupled with snow, meant drifts.
Don tackled the drifts in our driveway, and heroic neighbors with plow blades tackled the road.
We did get some superb alpineglow one evening...
...before once again snow roared in.
It pasted every surface...
...and dusted the inside of the barn, leaving a perfect silhouette of a pitch fork.
The chickens mostly stayed in their coop, otherwise they sank.
When Don plowed a clearing, all the cows and calves hung around in the cleared space.
When we took Mr. Darcy out for a run, he got "jingle balls" of snow adhering to his fur.
And then -- quite abruptly -- the spate of bad weather eased and blue skies and warmer temperatures moved in.
The snow will take quite a while to melt -- take a gander at the garden, where all the tires are still buried -- but we'll take what we can get.
Even the road in to our place is becoming more slush than ice.
We've been getting flocks of hoary redpolls all over...
...and the occasional tiny spider on the snow.
So I'd like to think this portends early spring, but I don't want to jinx it by saying so.
We'll just have to wait and see.