Country Living Series

Saturday, February 16, 2019

More snow pix

Now that the snow conditions have stabilized -- all our trails are blazed, the roads are plowed, and paths are shoveled to the barn, chicken coop, and shop -- we can start enjoying the scenery.

I'm guessing we received about 30+ inches of snow in one week. I beat a trail around the perimeter of one of our pastures on snowshoes, which makes taking Mr. Darcy out for his walks much easier.

My paths are just along the fence lines. Mr. Darcy's paths are everywhere else.

When he's not following my snowshoe path, he has to LEAP and bound through the deep snow, which makes him very tired very quickly.

Notice no vegetation is poking up, except in rare instances. Everything is buried.

Yesterday morning we had another snow dump, unbelievably heavy. We got about four inches in one hour, enough to convince everyone to postpone the neighborhood potluck (it was our turn to host) until next week.

Sometimes it's just better to curl up and watch the weather than to try and drive in it.

Here's an Oregon junco sitting on a snow-covered branch. I did manage to buy some birdseed, so I feel better knowing these little ones have full bellies. Hard to find food when it's buried under 30 inches of snow.

Early this morning we had a rare bit of sunshine peeking through fog, which resulted in a glorious display.

The camera couldn't do justice to the sun rays.

Yes, we live in a pretty place.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Self-reliance is the secret to happiness

Here's an interesting article I came across a couple weeks ago: "Self-Reliance Is The Secret Sauce To Consistent Happiness" (warning, some bad language scattered throughout).

The author, a Dutch productivity specialist by the name of Darius Foroux, points out how society hasn't changed much over the course of history in that "And one of those problems is that we are needy. VERY needy. Why is that a problem? Without self-reliance, you can never be consistently happy. And even though the purpose of life is not happiness in my opinion, being happy is still something that’s important to us. Happiness determines the quality of your life. No one wants to live a [expletive deleted] life."

Foroux seems to define "self-reliance" as emotional health: the confidence of not needing the approval of others. He writes:

"Let’s look at how self-reliant you are.

• Do you expect your romantic partner to make you happy?
• Do you think your friends should always be there for you?
• Do you expect that your boss will always give you money?
• Do you say people are stupid when they don’t buy your products or services?
• Do you find it difficult to be alone?
• Do you feel like a nobody when people ignore you at work?
• Do you feel hurt when someone doesn’t invite you to a birthday or any other social event?

In life, we always turn outwardly for everything: Happiness, advice, affection, love, approval. We ask experts for advice. We use drugs when we’re in pain. We expect others to solve our problems. ... Being part of society is great and all. But never take it too far. ... It’s one of the paradoxes in life. We want to be liked and loved by the ones we care about. But the moment we lose ourselves and our identity, we can no longer be the person we want to be. When you’re needy, you only damage your relationships in the long-term."

Foroux urges this emotional self-reliance "because when you’re self-reliant, you can enrich the lives of the people around you much more."

I couldn't help but compare the emotional self-reliance this writer discusses with the homesteading self-reliance quest Don and I embarked on so many years ago. In this regard, Foroux is correct: self-reliance is the secret to happiness. We can't imagine living any other kind of life.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Winter WHOMP

I apologize for the blog silence. As it turned out, I have five -- FIVE -- writing projects due this upcoming Friday. Fortunately the weather has been wholly cooperative for getting computer work done. How, you say?

Unlike January (when conditions were as mild as April), February has roared in like a lion. We've had a winter WHOMP. We can get lots of writing done when no one wants to be outside.

It all started last Friday (Feb. 8) when it snowed, heavily and prettily. Everything looked like a Christmas card.

Even Mr. Darcy.

Temperatures were mild on the 8th, but on Saturday the 9th, we were expecting more snow and worse, a bitterly cold north wind. Our prevailing wind direction is from the southwest, so a north wind is not only a "contrary" wind, but it means the livestock don't have the protection they normally do.

So we spent Friday preparing for Saturday's wind. I opened up and cleaned out Matilda's old pen, unused since she passed away. This would offer them some shelter from the wind and snow.

Don also installed an OSB wind break across the gate into the awning (which worked surprisingly well).

Notice the snow depth for the cows. What is it, ankle-deep? That didn't last, I assure you.

Every day I've been taking Mr. Darcy on a walk to the mailboxes, a three-mile round trip. That Friday's snowfall made the landscape look very pretty.

Though it looks like I ran my camera through a black-and-white filter, doesn't it?

There's just nothing lovelier than walking through a gentle snowfall.

Needless to say, Mr. Darcy enjoyed it too.

We got about eight inches of snow on Friday Feb. 8. So much, in fact, that if not for the heroic efforts of a neighbor with a snowplow on his truck, we could not have risked driving to the neighborhood potluck (held that day at a friend's house a few miles away).

As promised, Saturday roared in with wind so bitterly cold that it defeated even me. I'm famous for doing barn chores in shirt sleeves in 20F weather, but I couldn't even take Darcy for a walk that day. I tried, twice, bundled up as if for an arctic expedition, and got blown back to the house within five minutes.

We opened up the barn stall for the cows, and they hung around a bit but not as much as I thought they would (they're tough beasties). Still, I'm glad they had the option.

On Sunday, Feb. 10, the snow came back in. It snowed and snowed and snowed.

Temperatures were still bitterly cold, so Don bundled up when we took Darcy out. (That's Darcy on the right in the distance.)

And I mean bundled.

Like all good dogs, Mr. Darcy was completely immune to the weather. To him, the snow was nothing more than a giganto play toy.

Between Don's efforts, and our neighbor with the snowplow, the driveway stayed open. Every time it was scraped, flocks of Oregon juncos would descend to see what edibles were available. Make a note: pick up birdseed next time I'm in town.

Monday, Feb. 11, dawned windy and snowy. I get up early, when it's still dark, and when I stepped outside to get firewood for the woodstove, I was startled to see the whole porch drifted over and the wood buried. Hello, where did this come from?

Drifts built up by the chicken coop.

The wind was coming from the southwest (prevailing direction), which meant the cattle had shelter; but eddys had blown fine snow into the barn opening and coated the feed boxes.

Looks tasty, no? I gave the cattle fresh food.

Everything was coated.

The chickens looked suspiciously at the drifts and refused to set foot outside the coop.

Here's a pair of red crossbills hanging around.

Handsome birds. Here's the male:

And the female (zoomed and cropped so she's blurry):

Canada geese.

Pine cones.

Garden tires, Monday:

Garden tires, Wednesday:

Garbage cans, Monday morning:

Garbage cans, Monday evening:

Garbage cans, Wednesday morning:

Okay, time for snowshoes. There was no other way to take Mr. Darcy out.

The wind sent little snowballs rolling across the top of the snow, getting bigger as they went.

Don, pushing snow out of the driveway on Monday.

Don, pushing snow on Tuesday.

Don, pushing snow on Wednesday.

Tuesday, temps had risen just enough to start sending snow sliding down roofs.

This is the view from under the front porch. Don left me a valentine. Can you see it?

This morning -- Wednesday, Feb. 13 -- we woke up to heavy snow. My valentine had collapsed.

Altogether another eight inches or so fell overnight and during the morning. I'm guessing we have about 24+ inches of snow on the ground, maybe more.

The snow is so deep it's anchoring the lower branches of some trees.

Notice the curl of snow off the right side of the chicken coop? It makes a tunnel.

Between snowfalls, drifting, and snow sliding off the roofs, snow is piling up four or five feet in front of the windows.

We're running out of places to put it.

When I went to check to stock tank this morning, the barn door was blocked by snow. I had to wade through thigh-high drifts, climb a fence, and shovel out the door from the outside.

Got it open.

By afternoon it was blocked again (from snow sliding off the roof), but at least it's blocked open.

We're having a winter's worth of weather in one week.

(Notice the snow piled near the fence tops at the bottom of the photo.)

Backyard doghouse. The backyard is a bit protected from the wind, so the snow isn't quite as deep.

Orchard trees. You can hardly see the tires in which they're planted.

This morning I took Darcy around the field on snowshoes. Walking was so difficult that I stayed along the perimeter and held onto the wire to keep upright.

Eventually Darcy decided it was easier to stay behind in my path (sorry for the weird camera angle, I was reaching behind me), which often meant putting his paws on the backs of my snowshoes. Imagine how much more difficult that made walking.

About the only way he could get around was to LEAP and bound over the snow.

Here are some of his tracks from LEAPING and bounding.

That's him waaaay off in the upper left corner of the photo, by the fence.

This is what he did when he got home.

Snow was sticking to his backside in great big jingle balls, as we call them.

He chewed them off when he got inside.

This afternoon the temps rose to a dazzling 43F and the sun came out briefly. Don had scraped a path to the chicken coop, which the birds appreciated.

What a mess!

This afternoon I heard a thwack against the kitchen window. This poor little junco...

...smacked himself so hard he left feathers behind on the glass.

But evidently he only gave himself a headache, for he flew off shortly thereafter.

So that, dear readers, is what our week has been like. Now ... back to writing.