I’m thinking there will be just too much winter fun to contain in one blog post so for this week it’s day by day.
Monday: even though we’d taken extra care when we did chores Sunday we still had more to do Monday morning. The wind was coming from the east so snow was blowing into Cerin’s house and the sheep’s pen.
Cerin got a bale of straw in front of his house to block the wind from blowing straight in on him.
We tried to close the sheep’s door more but it was frozen in place so we took a sheet of OSB and covered half the opening and reinforced it with one of the panels we use for a sheep pen when we’re doing demonstrations. Otherwise they’d shred it running in and out and rubbing on it.
For the chickens we put out some straw they could keep busy scratching around in and shut their door. No one would stick their beak outside all day so we kept some heat in and snow out for them.
The waterer the sheep and steers share was frozen. Tom flipped the circuit breaker which sometimes fixes it, the sheep got a bucket of water, the steers had snow to tide them over for a few hours.
At evening chores the water was still frozen so we dipped water from the cows waterer and poured it in the frozen one. This also works to thaw it out but not this time. The steers were thirsty enough by then to all come up and get a good long drink. It’s not just horses you can lead to water, it works for cows too.
Tuesday: The temperature dropped another 2 degrees in the morning before we got out to do chores. The waterer was still frozen and the steers didn’t want to come get a drink, we’ll try again later. Walking out back to count cows I saw a woodpecker working away on a very skinny branch. I can’t imagine there would be enough bugs in it to make it worth the effort but he doesn’t tell me my business so I’ll leave him to his. Saw tracks I thought might be a fox, and I also saw coyote tracks.
Wednesday: I got up at 2:30 this morning and unlocked the stove and got the fire roaring again. The rest of the night I’d doze in my chair and get up every hour or so and throw in a log. And yes, I prefer this to writing a check to a utility company. Girding my loins to go out and brave the frozen tundra this morning looked like this; a pair of long johns I’ll be sewing myself into until spring. Warm socks, a turtleneck, sweatshirt, jeans, muck boots, a fleece lined hoodie with hood pulled up, scarf, stocking cap, an LLBean Maine Warden coat and a pair of fleece lined gloves.
Everything in town and beyond is closed, schools, our garbage service, hospital, credit union, some stores but not us. We’ll be out at least 3 times today to make sure everyone has enough to eat and drink and a place out of the wind.
Thursday: OK, be honest, how many of you thought I should just turn on the furnace and write a check to be warm? I thought of you when I read that Consumers Power, then DTE and finally the Governor of Michigan all said to turn the heat down to 65 or below, turn off lights and any electronics not being used. This morning I have a roaring fire, heated tea water, laundry is drying, I’ll make a cup of cocoa now that I’m done with chores and later the woodstove will cook the brotts we’ll have for lunch with baked beans I have in the oven simmering for 5 hours. Coming in from chores they were the first thing we could smell and the kitchen was nicely warmed. The sun was shining and the wind has died back a bit so windchill of -37 didn’t seem so bad this morning when we were out. This bird didn’t share my opinion, it was too cold to fly and it happily sat on the gate to the sheep’s pen and let me snap photos while it toasted in the sun.
Friday: today when the thermometer said ‘20’ there wasn’t a minus sign in front of it! WOOHOO! Baked a loaf of apple spice bread for tomorrow’s tea party and cleaned the house.
Saturday: Tea on the Farm today. Friends, neighbors and strangers stop by for a cup of tea, sweets and savories, show off their latest crafty things and have a bit of a natter. After a week of snow and cold I’m looking forward to putting the kettle on. It’s supposed to warm up this weekend so fingers crossed the steers water thaws and we can stop hauling water in buckets to them.
Sunday: It’s the dreaded warm-up, there’s been an 80 degree swing between this morning’s 41 the -40 wind chill we hosted. I dread the warm-up because that means there’s a layer of packed snow that’s turned to ice hard and fast enough for the NHL to scrimmage on. It’s a bit lumpy so we might not be hosting the Curling regionals this year. It’s the lumps that are a problem because they’re likely composed of frozen manure, and over everything is a layer of ice cold water from the melting snow. So, when you slip on the ice and fall you land in cold, slushy, poopy water. Then you decide if you’re close enough to finished with chores to just go on ahead and finish or it’s cold enough for frostbite and you need to go change and come back out and risk another fall to finish chores. I know this because I usually manage to fall once a winter.
We hauled hay to the cows this morning and we’ll haul to the steers tonight after they’ve had a chance to clean up what they have. That’ll be 4500 pounds of hay to last them a week. And after lunch we’ll probably cut a load of firewood.
And that’s our week, how did you do in the cold? Candy
Apple Spice Bread
Heat oven to 350 degrees
1 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Mix dry ingredients together in a small bowl.
1 beaten egg
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup shredded, peeled apple (about 1 large apple)
3 tablespoons cooking oil
⅔ cup applesauce
After I measure out the oil I put the spoon in a loaf pan to drip, it’s gives just enough to wipe around with a paper towel and grease the pan.
In a large mixing bowl mix remaining ingredients. Stir in dry ingredients until just mixed. Pour into loaf pan and bake at 350 for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes then remove and finish cooling on a wire rack.