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.


  1. What an absolutely beautiful mess! And...Darcy is just such an adorable guy too! Thank you for sharing with us. CWfromIowa

  2. With snow all but burying your fences, how well are the cattle being retained? I can hardly think of something less fun than “chasing” down escapees in such snow!

    1. Nope, the only time they break out of fences is when the grass is greener on the other side -- which, this week, is a moot point. They break trails between the awning and the water tank and don't deviate an inch.

      - Patrice

  3. Beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing. Got to love Mr. Darcy.
    Montana Guy

  4. great pictures--looks like winter...I rehabbed birds of prey and MANY other birds and animals (deer, racoons,etc). the Junco that hit the window..we called them "head bonkers" do not survive. their skulls are paper thin..they recover long enough through instinct to fly away but succumb to their injuries quite quickly. Shadowfaxhound

  5. WishI could follow you by email. Bloglovin shows me only some stuff when they think it is worth it. I want you for each entry. Could you find a way to let some of us follow you directly??? Thanks for sharing your beautiful pics. Enjoy the snow and the dog and cattle and birds. lol. Be Well.

  6. Your photos remind me of my life on the farm in Illinois during my youth. I am so glad we are in Texas now. I had called a childhood friend in the little town near the farm and he had -27 that night. Worst I had ever seen on the farm was -22.

  7. Nothing prettier than 2 ft of snow. In Idaho. While I'm in Memphis.


  8. It makes necessary outside work harder, but I kind of enjoy it when I'm snowed in. Time to make cinnamon rolls and read a good book.

  9. Absolutely beautiful pictures and descriptions to your photos...Snow falling is quite beautiful and whimsical and stillness all around...Covering the earth so it will produce beauty in the spring....God is So Good....Love from NC

  10. Oh, my. I enjoy seeing the exotic (to me) pictures of the snow.

  11. Holy Snowy February!!! Love the pics of the wonderful western wind art! They took me right back to my childhood of Wyoming winters. That's the one thing you can count on...Wind! Your beasts are a hearty lot for sure. Hope the spring thaw is fabulous for your garden. Stay healthy!

  12. Reminds me of our "snowmagedon" two years ago in southern Idaho. Praise God it's not like that this year. You're a trooper.

  13. The trip to the mail box is SO beautiful!! Like Narnia. The wind is out of control here in South East ID. And enough snow that the elk are coming out of the mountains to feed. Praying for spring.

  14. Oh what a beautiful place to live! Thank you for sharing! We made it into Idaho for the first time in October! Snow on the mountain tops in places then! Could not drive from Jackson up to Yellowstone so we drove through Idaho several times!Hope it has stopped snowing for you! Take Care!