Friday, January 31, 2014


Now there's a post title that most likely piqued your interest and made you eager to read what I have to say.  Or not.

It's not that I'm bored.  It's the last of January and I'm not halfway started on all those projects I was going to do for fun in this long, slow month that has literally zooomed past!

It's just that when I think of sharing what's been going on, nothing seems very interesting or funny or, praise be, exceptional.  So you may as well stop reading now and go to someone else's more stimulating blog.

Still here?  Okay, you asked for it.

I have been in my quilt room a bit.  Now and then.  Here and there.  Rewarding myself with an hour's time in there once or twice a day.  I'm working on a new spring shower curtain.  The old one is faded and drab.  And I never much liked the way it turned out in the first place.  The new one (in spring colors, of course) has alternating vertical panels of squares on point and an appliqued vine with flowers.  Since the piece will be laundered a bit, I'll use machine applique rather than doing it by hand.  Picture(s) will be posted . . . eventually.

Reading.  I've done more of that than I have in a long time, but my thirst for same has not been quenched.  (So many books, so little time.)  I'm nearing the end of Weekends with Daisy, a book about service dogs raised by prison inmates.  The dogs spend weekends outside the prison walls with someone (often in a family environment) on the "outside" so they can become socialized, familiar with and accustomed to all they will encounter after achieving their (hoped for) goal of becoming service dogs.

Yesterday we hit a high of nearly 10° above zero so took advantage of the "warm" weather to haul out the roof rake and remove 2-3' of accumulated snow from one section (14' x 32') of roof.  Of course, the snow came avalanching down (!) directly onto a shoveled pathway that had to then be cleared of same snow.  I think Papa Pea and I both exercised some (apparently) seldom used muscle groups during the project.

As of last night, I've finished sorting through all my garden seeds and making a list of those lacking in quantity and needing supplementation and dumping (geesh, I hated to do it) ones that were too, too old to hang on to.  Now to the (daunting) task of deciding from which of the thirteen seed catalogs stacked on the table I will order which seeds.  I've heard seed prices are substantially "up" this year, but I haven't yet been big and brave enough to take a look for myself.

Well, those are the exciting things I have to report.  (Aren't you relieved I held myself back from yammering on about the boring things?)

We've had no snow for several days now.  Is this it for the winter?  (Ha!  It's only the end of January, silly girl.)  We traditionally get the bulk of our snowfall in the month of March.  Last year got most of it in April.  Guess we've still got some time left to get more.  Good.  All the more time before I'll be spending all my daylight hours out in the garden.  Garden?  Just where IS the garden?  It's been so long that it's been covered with a couple of feet of snow that I don't recall exactly where it is.  For sure, we won't be dealing with a spring that is too dry this year.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Challenges Are Good For Us, Right?

There was an article in the recent edition of our local paper in which the superintendent of schools was asked, "What is the criteria for closing school because of inclement weather?"  The answer was an actual temperature reading of -35° or lower or a wind chill factor of -50°.  (Four feet of snow would probably do it, too!)

Schools are closed again today.  I think this is the fifth day so far this winter.

We were apparently in a "warm" part of the county as we had only -16° overnight.  Many areas not too far from us had -25°.  The part that made it nasty was that we all had bad winds again.  

I think our high was around noon when the temp was -8°.  The wind had died and the sun was out.  That all helped make things more tolerable.

Even getting out for some fresh air and exercise has been challenging so far this winter.  In the past we've gone out cross-country skiing at -20° (I think we must have been much younger . . . and dumber), but I'm having a tough time convincing myself anything longer than a short excursion outside is really necessary these days.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Counting my many blessings, I am so thankful that we are as set up as we are and can survive these frigid temperatures with very little inconvenience or discomfort.

The old-timers around say that back in the first half of the 1900s, winters were regularly like the one we're experiencing this year.  I can't help but wonder how difficult it must have been for the early homesteaders in this area.  Next to no insulation in their houses, meager heating systems, isolation from town and supplies for months, inadequate clothing and footwear . . . oh, my.  I'm sure the list goes on and on.

I posted this poem way back in 2009.  I've kept a copy of it for many years and came across it in my files again this weekend.


Mama's mama, on a winter's day,
Milked the cows and fed them hay.

Slopped the hogs, saddled the mule,
And got the children off to school.

Did a washing, mopped the floors,
Washed the windows and did some chores.

Cooked a dish of home-dried fruit,
Pressed her husband's Sunday suit.

Swept the parlor,
Made the bed,
Baked a dozen loaves of bread.

Split some wood and lugged it in,
Enough to fill the kitchen bin.

Cleaned the lamps and put in oil,
Stewed some apples she thought might spoil.

Churned the butter, 
Baked a cake,
Then exclaimed, "For mercy's sake,
The calves have gotten out of the pen!"
Went out and chased them in again.

Gathered the eggs and locked the stable,
Returned to the house and set the table.

Cooked a supper that was delicious,
And afterwards washed all the dishes.

Fed the cat, sprinkled the clothes,
Mended a basket full of hose.

Then opened the organ and began to play,
"When You Come to the End of a Perfect Day."

                                                                  - Anonymous

This dear lady didn't think her days were a challenge.  She just did what needed to be done.  Then got up the next morning to start all over again.

Methinks people were made of sturdier stock in those days.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Last of My 2013 Gardening Notes

This post covers crops grown for the chickens and a couple of crop fizzles.

First the flops.

Corn - I planted a LOT of our Painted Mountain Corn.  It was a huge failure this year.  The stalks got knocked down a couple of times by wind storms.  The ears were small and very under-developed.  The chickens loved them.  Sigh.

Red Kuri Squash - My favorite Red Kuri squash was the only winter squash I planted this year.  Not one of them matured.  Not one.  A complete bust. No squash in our house this winter.

* * * * * * * *

Now for the crops grown for the chickens.

Mangels - I planted and successfully grew a big crop of mangels which are touted to be great livestock food.  Our chickens are not crazy about them.  First we tried them chopped up raw.  No go.  Now we cook them overnight on the wood stove in the garage and serve them warm to the chickens in the morning.  They are eating about half of the portion offered.  Maybe we need to add a little butter and salt and pepper.  Or buy some cattle to eat all the mangels we have in the root cellar.

Kale and Swiss Chard - I dried kale and Swiss chard to have as a green for feeding the poultry this winter.  Them seem to love it.  Maybe they think it's green grass that they haven't seen for the past few months because it's been under about three feet of snow.  This coming season I'll also dry boatloads of comfrey for them as we have an abundant supply of that.

Dried Hay/Grass - During the summer, Papa Pea cut, dried and stored in burlap bags cuttings from our small hay field.  This is fed out to the chickens all winter.  It must be this along with the greens I dehydrated that has kept the orange color in the egg yolks over winter.  Or I should say in the piddly small number of eggs we are getting right now. 

* * * * * * * *

That's a run-down of garden harvests from 2013.  Next on the gardening list is to check my seed supply and start pouring over all those seed catalogs that have been making a teetering pile on the corner of my desk.  A fun thing to do, but by the time the cost of the necessities and would-love-to-haves is totaled, it may be time for a reality check!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Out of the Root Cellar, Into the Freezer

More notes on last season's garden harvests . . .  in the freezer.

Broccoli - I have trouble growing broccoli.  Or I should say, I have trouble growing broccoli without worms.  This past year I protected all the broccoli plants from the dreaded white cabbage moths (who have the audacity to lay their eggs from which the worms hatch in my broccoli) by covering them with our newly constructed screen cages.

How'd that work?  Well, upon soaking the freshly harvested broccoli heads in warm, salt water (to kill any worms), I'm sad to say I found the broccoli was not worm-free.  But only a few worms were sent to their demise as they floated out compared to many, many of them in years past.  So the screen cages did help.  Somewhat.  I think.

We ate a lot of fresh broccoli right from the garden, but only enough for 12 meals made it to the freezer for winter consumption.  No matter what I try, frozen broccoli lacks that crisp crunchiness I get when cooking fresh, non-frozen broccoli.  But the frozen broccoli makes excellent Cream of Broccoli soup so that's most likely where the remaining packages will go.

Brussels Sprouts - These were grown under screen cages also.  Nary one worm was found.  (Hurray!)  We ate many (we both love Brussels sprouts) as they matured during the late summer/early fall.  Five servings (a serving being enough for the two of us for one meal) made it to the freezer.  They are long gone.  I had 16 plants in the garden.  Is this an inefficient vegetable for me to raise, or am I doing something wrong?

Peas - I put up 42 servings of shell peas.  We love 'em and eat several servings a week.  They are the first preserved vegetable we run out of.  There are still some in the freezer, but I'm not going to check to see how many because then I'll be sad there are so few left.

Beans - Oh, my.  I really overdid it on the beans this year.  I usually plant one 16' row of green beans and one 16' row of yellow beans.  That gives us an ample supply for the year.  This year my first plantings did not germinate well at all.  So I panicked, went crazy and planted beans in every spare piece of garden soil I could find.  I ended up with waaay too many beans.  Even after giving a lot away.  Naturally, I couldn't waste any so I put them up.  I mix the green and yellow beans together (for pretty on the plate) and ended up with 75 servings.  We will have enough beans until the 2014 crop comes in.  I'm sure.

Green Peppers - I made 34 servings of Stuffed Green Peppers.  We have them about once a week and I've served them a couple of times as a company meal.  We have plenty left.  I also put about 2 quarts of chopped green peppers in the freezer to use in cooking over this winter.

Chives - I prepped and froze 11 one-cup size containers of chives.  I love them and use them all winter long.  With luck, I shouldn't run out before the chives pop up this spring.

Blueberries - Will we ever have enough blueberries?  We are already down to the last three gallon bags of them.  (Plus, adequate jars of jam on the pantry shelves.)

Raspberries - Can you have too many raspberries?  In our case, the answer is yes.  Today I counted 7 gallon bags of them still languishing in the freezer.  That is probably more than we can use before the next crop comes in.  I made jam and concentrate, but still ended up with too many in the freezer.  If this coming season is good, I may sell some of the fresh berries to our local co-op.

Strawberries - I still have 8 quarts of frozen smooshed strawberries.  These were intended to be used in smoothies.  However, this winter has been so cold we find ourselves not wanting (cold) smoothies as a breakfast.  Or a lunch.  Or anytime of the day.  I've been experimenting using the strawberries up in baked goods, and made a really good strawberry cobbler earlier this week.  This cobbler may make more appearances on our table this winter yet.  And, yes, there is plenty of strawberry jam put by.

Rhubarb - Only one rhubarb pie filling left (started with 5, but I'll make more this coming season) and 2 pint containers of rhubarb sauce.

That's it for this post.  Only the food put by for the poultry to cover yet.  That will be next . . . and much shorter!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Vicarious Gardening in January

Although I'm truly not ready for spring yet, nor am I the least bit eager to start seedlings in the house, I do have a garden related project that needs to be done.

What I am wanting to do may be dry as dust of little interest to anyone else, but it is time for me to finally pull my notes together from the 2013 gardening season for my own records.

So here goes the first of a couple of posts regarding last year's garden and the harvests from same.

Let's start with the onions.  I don't have much trouble growing onions and last year, as usual, gave me a good crop of both yellow and red.  I have them in an area of the basement that has been staying between 45° and 50° this winter.  Forty-five might be on the low side for optimal storage for onions, but so far, so good.  I find perhaps one soft onion in each bag.  I still have four of these containers full of onions.

Rhonda over at Glory Farm sent me some wonderful garlic in the fall of 2012 which I planted.  Those cloves developed into some of the biggest bulbs I've ever seen.  I probably wasn't too smart in that I used every last one of them and didn't save any for planting.  Yep, not the brightest move.

Down in the root cellar (where the lighting leaves a bit to the desired so the following pictures are kind of hit and miss), the remaining cabbages aren't very pretty.  But on the other hand, this is the longest we've been able to keep heads of cabbage and have them usable.  If I peel off a couple of outer leaves, they're still sound and flavorful.  These few are all we have left.  I wish I had planted more, especially the red.  They never seem as bothered as the green ones by insects in the garden, and I really like having a purple vegetable on our plates.  (How often do you see that?)

We have carrots in this over-sized pail covered with a damp towel and they look great.

Also some in plastic bags with holes poked in the bags for a little ventilation.  I think the ones in the pail are keeping much better.   I purposely didn't plant as many carrots this year as I usually do.  The total harvest came in at 21-1/2 pounds and I think we're going to make it well into spring with the ones we still have left.

The beets are in a couple of 5-gallon pails each covered with a damp towel.  I never got around to processing a bunch for the freezer, but I still might do that because when wanting to serve beets as a veggie, they sure are a lot more convenient right from the freezer.  I didn't use any beets to make pickled beets either because the last time I did, I got way carried away (what was I thinking?) and we still have enough for 10-12 years.  Or more.  The beets are keeping exceptionally well.  In sorting through them, we found only a few small ones that were beginning to feel a little soft.  Those went to the chickens.

The remainder of the turnips in the root cellar are not doing well.  These few are all we have there, but I do have a bagful in the spare refrigerator . . . which aren't faring any better.  Don't know if I'll even plant turnips next year.  Well, maybe just a short row for eating fresh.  I do like them for crunch in summer salads or on a tray with dip.  If I do plant some, I must remember that the green tops grow huge and over-power anything within 5 feet of them.  (Not quite, but almost.)  Also, I know they are best harvested and eaten at 2-3" in diameter, and I let most of them get too big this past year.

Our potato harvest was fantastic last season, and we couldn't ask for more flavorful potatoes.  Solid, hard and crisp.  They're in the root cellar, some in 5-gallon pails covered with a damp towel, some in a big cardboard box covered with a damp towel and some in burlap bags.  So far, they all still look really good.

This covers vegetables in the basement and root cellar so I'll end here for this post.  

Snowman Finds New Home

Thanks to all you good people who volunteered to give my rather LARGE snowman wall hanging a new home.

Chicken Mama saw me writing out all your names on slips of paper and asked if she could draw the winner at about the same second I asked her if she would do the honors!

I was glad to have her assistance and you can be assured that all was done in a fair and square manner.  (No peeking!)

A little on the fuzzy side though this picture is . . . 

 JoAnn is the winner drawn to receive the wall haning.

JoAnn, if you would kindly go over to the "Contact Me" box on my right hand side bar and send me your mailing address, I'll get Mr. Snowman packaged up and on his way to you as soon as possible.

Thanks again to all who entered the giveaway drawing!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

We Like Winter But This Is Ridiculous

No, sirree, it's not a fit night for man nor beast out there.

Currently our temperature reads -3° which isn't so awful bad in itself.  But there is a fierce wind a'blowin'.  Gusts up to 46 mph.  A low of -24° forecast by morning.  A wind chill of -50°.

(This is a picture I have up on our refrigerator.)

The big chunks of wood put into the stoves seem to get sucked right up the chimney.

I just heard something go thump outside somewhere.  Wonder what blew over?  Or off?  Oi.

We may have to put an extra quilt on the bed tonight.

Nuthin' Like a Little Fresh Air

In the mail yesterday, Papa Pea received a new (used) parka to use for winter camping.  It appears to be extremely well made and brand new, but it did have a bit of an "aroma" about it from being packed away somewhere for a long period of time.

I suggested he hang it out on the deck to give it a good airing out.

This morning as the light got bright enough, I looked out and noticed that we had forgotten all about the parka last night, and it was still gently rotating on its hanger in the breeze.

I told him, "Don't look now, but I think your new parka went on its first overnight winter camping trip without you."  

Bet it smells nice and fresh now though.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Internet Interruptus (On Again, Off Again)

Just a heads up to let you know we've been having Internet connection problems for the last three days.

Is it frustrating?  Aw, heck no.

Have we come to depend on the Internet too much?  (No comment.)

Today we had no service until noon, but right now we're A-OK . . . at least for the time being.

Soooo . . . if I don't post the winner of the drawing for the snowman wall hanging on Thursday as promised, know that I am once again unable to get connected.

On the other hand, maybe what has been happening is just a passing glitch and all will be well forever and ever now.  (Believe that one, and our service provider will tell you another one.  We have contacted them and they say our dish is "out of alignment."  They will contact us within 3-5 days to set up an appointment for a repairman to come out.  If, indeed, our dish is out of alignment, why does it seem to work perfectly some of the time?  Either it's aligned to pick up the signal, or it's not.  Hmmm, one of those great mysteries of life . . . )

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Snowman Seeks Relocation

Help me.  Please.

I'm trying to be big and brave (and sensible) and get rid of items I no longer need nor will ever use again.

Way back in 2001, I made this quilted piece as a winter time wall hanging for my husband's classroom of third graders.

Truth be told, if I had the space in which to hang this colorful piece, I would keep it.  But I don't, so it needs to go to a new home.

This quilted wall hanging is big.  You can see my husband's hands near the top holding it up for the picture.  The measurements are 34-1/2" across and 60-1/2" top to bottom.

If any of you would like to have it, just say so in the comment section.  I'll close the entries this coming Wednesday night (January 22nd) and Thursday I'll draw a name from those of you who are interested in this giveaway and send the big frosty guy on to a new home.

Any takers?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

I'm Gonna Eat a Whole Apple Pie Tomorrow!

For Christmas, my daughter gave me four small Pyrex dishes.

They could be used for individual casseroles or . . . as miniature pie plates!

They're only 6" across.

This afternoon when I started to make a Dutch Apple Pie, I thought of the dishes and decided to make four little pies instead of one regular sized one.

I cut a ball of dough for one pie crust into four equal pieces and rolled each piece out.  They fit perfectly in the Pyrex plates.  Then I prepared the same amount of apples I would for a regular pie but divided them up into the four little pie plates.

Made the crumb topping and into the oven they went.

When Papa Pea came into the kitchen a few minutes ago and saw them cooling on the counter, he said, "Perfect.  One for you, one for our daughter, and two for me."

Ha, in his dreams! 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Winter's Still With Us

Snow started yesterday afternoon and hung around after dark.

Before dusk Papa Pea brought a couple of wheelbarrows full of wood up to the back porch where we stacked it in the wood box.

This morning we found about 8" of new snow making everything a fresh, clean winter wonderland.

During the day we've had a little more snow and lots of wind picking up the snow on the ground and sending it flying off to new locations.

Around noon time we had to drive out to our mechanic's garage about twenty miles down the highway to pick up my Toyota that had had some work done on it.  Although we saw three county snowplows on the road, it was snow covered and slippery, the temperature in the low 20s at that time.  We drove out in our Suburban and planned to drive it and the Toyota home. 

About three miles from the garage, the battery light came on in the Suburban, then went off, then on again.  Suddenly very bad grinding noises started emitting from under the hood.  We literally coasted into our mechanic's yard.  The general consensus after a quick look seems to be that the alternator went kaputz.  So we ended up leaving the Suburban there and both coming home in the Toyota.  I teased Papa Pea that he really didn't need me to go on that little jaunt.  He could have accomplished it on his own.

But talk about someone watching over us.  We took this same Suburban to the big city and back exactly one week ago, and believe me, there are many, many deserted stretches of road between here and there where we could have gotten stranded if the alternator had gone out then.  We are, indeed, lucky duckies.

Snow is still coming down accompanied by those pesky winds.  I do love the way the snow looks blown up against the living room windows tonight.  Great time to be snuggled down on the couch in front of the open fire.  And that's right where I'm going now.

Good night, all!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Can't Resist Sharing . . .

Some of you may have already seen this, but I hadn't until yesterday.  Chicken Mama's cousin in California sent it to her and she shared it with me.  


It's winter in Minnesota,
And the gentle breezes blow.
Seventy miles an hour,
At thirty-five below.

Oh, how I love Minnesota,
When the snow's up to your butt.
You take a breath of winter air,
And your nose gets frozen shut.

Yes, the weather here is wonderful,
So I guess I'll hang around.
I could never leave Minnesota,
'Cause I'm frozen to the ground.

Thanks for sharing, K.  Now would be a nice time for you to visit, no?  Hee-hee.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Who Woulda Thunk It?

Although I put a great deal of emphasis on growing as much of our food as I can, I've come to realize there are still areas in which I could do better.  Apparently a lot better.

In the garden each year, I plant a couple of parsley plants.  (Can't get the darn things to winter over in our area so have to start anew each season.)  During the summer, I use the fresh parsley from these plants, running outside with scissors in hand frequently to snip off a few stalks for adding to many of the meals I cook.

But in the past when I've though about drying some parsley to have for use during the winter months, I've always (she admits shamefacedly) figured buying dried parsley at our organic co-op was so time and labor saving that I have never bothered to dry my own.

Last fall before a killing frost put them out of commission, I had such big, beautiful and lush looking parsley growing that I cut down both plants and dried the leaves in our dehydrator.

In using our own home grown and dried parsley this winter, I've come to appreciate what has to be the much higher quality of my own compared to that purchased.  The above picture shows a tablespoon of my parsley on the left and some I purchased on the right.  (In real life, the purchased parsley looks even more yellowish-brown in color than in the picture!)  Can hardly believe how much more vibrant and colorful mine is.  And here's the real clincher, folks.  The flavor of mine is far superior.  Well, duh.  Who would thunk it?  Not me.  Silly, silly me.

Just shows to go ya, I still have (lotsa) room to learn and grow in continually producing and preserving more of the food we ingest . . . even such a (seemingly) insignificant thing as parsley.

This gardening season, I'm putting in six parsley plants and will have a stash of half-gallon jars of dehydrated parsley squirreled away in my pantry come fall.  You can count on it.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Need A January Tonic?

Since rhubarb has long been hailed as a spring tonic, I decided it might be okay to use it as a pepper-upper in January.

I've always heard (and it may only be an old wive's tale) you should stop taking any stalks from your rhubarb plant(s) by mid-summer so if I want rhubarb in my freezer for use over winter, I harvest it before the 4th of July.

I still have two or three bags of ready-to-go rhubarb pie filling so I pulled one of them out this morning.  They're so easy to have on hand.  In summer time just fill your quart measuring cup with about 4 cups of cut up rhubarb.

I confess if I have a stalk or two more than the four cups, I'll cut them up and fill the measurer nearly to the top.  (Won't hurt a thing.  But you should have at least four cups, for sure.)

Dump the rhubarb into a bowl and mix well with one cup of sugar, 1/3 (slightly rounded) cup of flour and a dash of salt.  Put it all into a gallon freezer bag.  I like to lay mine out flat to freeze so several bags stack easily together.

One thing and another kept happening all day today and I didn't get the pie baked as early as I had wanted.  Here it is cooling on the back porch after the sun had gone down.  I was going to put a lattice crust on the pie, but because I wanted to get it into the oven asap, I just cut rounds out of the rolled out pastry crust and plopped them on to form sort of a top crust.  Yeah, I know, I probably shouldn't have done that.  (It kinda looks like a cobbler with biscuits on top, doesn't it?)  Not as attractive as a lattice crust would have been, but I'm betting the pie will get eaten anyway.

In addition to having the spring-tonic-in-January rhubarb to eat, I put lots (Papa Pea said, "The back of my throat kinda burns . . . ") of fresh, chopped garlic on our pizza tonight.  We all know garlic is good for anything that ails ya, so by tomorrow we should be in great shape!  (Might not be a bad idea to suck on a mint or two if we come into contact with anyone from the outside world, though, since I apparently got a little over zealous with the garlic.)  

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Well, Maybe the Weathermen Were Right . . .

I said last night I didn't think our temperature would get down to the forecasted -26°, but low (pun intended) and behold, it did . . . plus one degree.

We had -27° on the south-facing front of our house first thing this morning.  But, once again, the day has brought us full sunshine with rays bouncing off the solid snow cover everywhere you look.  Now at noontime, we have -7°.

All is well within this morning.  I have a blueberry pie burbling over baking in the oven as we speak.  There's ground beef defrosting on the counter for a meat loaf.  (Meat loaf, scalloped potatoes and Brussels sprouts . . . what better a winter time meal!)  Although I may save that for tomorrow's dinner while we finish the Black Bean Soup in the refrigerator today.

I made a little different concoction for brunch this morning.  I fried three strips of bacon in a skillet, removed and chopped them, sauteed some onion in the bacon fat, added some cooked green beans and two chopped hard-boiled eggs.  Heated it all together, added salt and pepper and a slice of toast on the plate . . . a real gor-met-ish meal.  At least for this homestead.

Hubby is on the Internet doing a search for gloves which might do a better job of keeping his fingers from getting tingly as they did when he was out for morning chores.  The warmest hand coverings we have are choppers which are leather mittens with wool liners.  But there are certain things you cannot do with them on (anything requiring finger dexterity) so we both need to find a glove that insulates separated fingers to the max.

The wild birds, especially the little Black-Capped Chickadees, are looking as if they're still hepped up on holiday cheer as they zoom from feeder to feeder.

I know it's creating some difficulties for those of you having this extremely cold weather in locations where you don't usually get it.  I really hope you and your animals aren't suffering unduly. 

Up here we're set up for this kind of weather.  Although we, personally, weren't always.  It's definitely been an evolution in "getting it right."  I could tell you stories of our first years up here that would make you question our sensibilities.  Those "adventures" made my mother want to snatch our then toddler from us and raise her under more desirable circumstances.  It all turned out fine, though, because our daughter grew up loving the area as we do and wouldn't live anywhere else.

Speaking of Chicken Mama, I hope she blogs of the night she had last night.  I think she practiced a little "winter camping."  Inside.

I'm off to check the wood stoves.  They seem to be consuming wood at a very rapid rate.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Geesh, it's really hard to tell how much snow we got from yesterday's blizzard-like conditions, because there was a lot of drifting caused by the accompanying high winds.

But I do know that nearly all the pathways I shoveled out today seemed to be about 18" deep on the level.  Could we have possibly gotten that much snow?  The flat board on the top of our deck railing usually provides me with an accurate measurement of snow, but during this storm it stayed blown clean as a whistle.

Papa Pea and I spent nearly all day outside cleaning things up.  (Okay, he was out there working a couple more hours than I was.  But, hey, somebody had to prepare nutritious, delicious meals to fuel our bodies, right?)  It was actually a pleasant day to be outside as we had a high temp of 13° and bright sunshine all day.  We only had to come in a couple of times to warm up fingers or toes and make a stop or two by the kleenex box.

In preparation for the severely dropping temps tonight (which will stay with us for a few days), we knew it would be wise to get things ship-shaped up today.  We brought in lots of wood for both the house and heated part of the garage.  Honkin' big logs to put in the stoves to hold the fires overnight, too.  Hubby climbed up on the roof to check chimneys and clean them.  The wild birds have plenty of suet, peanut butter and seed.  Our chickens will be checked and tended to several times a day.

The forecast of low temperatures and wind chills are not to be taken lightly, but nearly everyone living up here knows how to stay safe and look out for those who might need help.  And you can be sure nobody is concerned with making a fashion statement when they dress to go outside.

Temp tonight is to be around -26°.  It's only 0° now at 6:30 so it's got a ways to go to get that low.  Tomorrow, a high of -19 to -14 (that's the "warmest" prediction of the three I've seen) with a wind chill factor of 40-50 below zero.  Monday, a high of -16 to -11 but a nasty wind chill factor of 45 to 55 below.  These temperatures should be taken seriously, and you can believe we do so.  The wind chill advisory is in effect until noon on Tuesday.

Don't worry about us.  We'll be smart and careful during this little "cold snap."  For those of you who don't want anything to do with cold winter weather, aren't cha glad you don't live up here?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Slow Start

I haven't hit the ground running as I had hoped to do this morning.  Feeling a little shakey and beat-up has me moving very slowly so far.  I blame it all on my day of total relaxation yesterday.  It must have been too much of a shock to my body.

Actually, I think I've been fighting some kind of a low-grade bug for (what seems like) several weeks now.  Either my immune system is strong enough to be keeping it from taking me down or I have a very weak bug that isn't tough enough to lay me flat.

The symptoms are in my head (no, no, I'm not a hypochondriac . . . the ailments are truly in my head).  Been having bad headaches on and off and I have what feels like a plug in each ear that makes my noggin feel super-stuffy.  I keep checking in the mirror to see if my eyes really are as crossed as they feel.  So I thought spending the day in "my nest" on the couch yesterday would be a good idea.

I read and knitted and read and knitted.  Tried to watch a couple of DVDs but nothing held my interest.  I may have stressed myself a wee bit by the knitting.

Am making a pair of socks and using a new pattern.  The first time I tried to turn the heel, I misread the directions and was well on my way to knitting 52 rows (on row 48, for heaven's sake) before I realized it should have been only 26.  Duh.  Ripped that out and started again.  This time I couldn't get the decrease under the heel to look right and discovered I was working on only 20 stitches rather than the 30 required.  Ripped that out and started again.  I finally quit last night when daughter stopped by on her way home to kindly give me a full head, face and neck massage.  (Bless her kind heart and hot, little hands.)  Said massage was wonderful and may be the cause of me feeling pole-axed this morning.  I'm thinking she got my lymph flowing and all kinds of garbage is working its way out of my bod.  Which is a good thing.

Anyway, don't cry for me, Argentina dear readers.  I have no real problems and as soon as I finish the last half of my latte, I may feel tough enough to start the task of taking down the holiday decorations.

It's br-r-r-r cold again today but tomorrow it's supposed to warm up to a high of 14° which will truly feel balmy after what we've been having.  Also 70% chance of snow for Friday with a possible five to six inches predicted.

We've been staying warm and cozy but, oh my, have we been feeding a lot of wood into the stoves.  Which also makes a lot of ashes which means cleaning them out of the living room stove should be my first task when I'm ready to move.  We've kept from putting anymore wood in there this morning so I can let the coals from the overnight fire burn out so I can clean out the ashes without so much of a mess.

My start to the day is getting even slower as I sit here typing.  Methinks the sensible thing would be to pull on my big girl panties, get up and do what needs to be done.  After all, it's already the second day of January and I don't want the New Year to get away from me!