Snow Day

Oh, I love a snow day. A coffee-drinking, chili-eating, pile-burning day. Heavy skies, whirling snow, wading through knee-deep drifts and retracing steps a short time later only to find the tracks already blown in.

Everything is harder, everything takes longer, your toes and fingers freeze, and your face, the only part of you showing, gets nipped hard by the cold. Sneaky little trickles of snow find the impossible gaps between scarf and hood. Negative windchills require a delicate balance of enough layers to keep you warm in the gale-force winds and flying snow while not causing extra exertion and resulting perspiration. Bundle up enough to be warm and you’re suddenly wearing so many layers you’re sweating your way down a hill.

But truly, I love a snow day.

We went out first thing and lit off half a dozen piles, a jolly way to spend a frigid morning. I’ve always loved a good pile burning day! We had been anticipating a snow storm for months, hoping to get some of the slash piles burned up that are sprinkled all over in the timber, and Brad got excited when he saw not just the snow but the stretch of cold temps in the forecast. So out we went, armed like arsonists with gasoline and matches and old bale net wrap. The pups all came with us, a desperate attempt on our part to start wearing them out. It took approximately 4 hours of cold weather yesterday for them to get stir crazy and last night they were impossible. So we hauled them out in the single digits and they got a grand 5 minutes of running around before the silly things were shivering. They didn’t ask to get out of the truck after that. Every time we got out to light a pile, they spread out over all the seats, and every time we got back in they were less inclined to move out of the way, preferring for us to half sit on them instead.

The piles lit beautifully. I realized after pile four that I involuntarily released a sound, something like “Hah!,” every time the lit match hit the gasoline-soaked net wrap and whooshed into flame. But it is just so satisfying! I could watch the fire for hours, flames licking up ravenously into the snow-heavy air, creating up drafts that suck the smoke back into the pile in a volatile whirlwind. Mesmerizing. The bulls also found it satisfying, apparently, since they cozily warmed their little backsides, eventually wandering away and giving a musical shake to the icicles hanging all along their ribs.

Not much activity outside the chicken coop today. Not much, as in none. The chickens flatly refused to leave the coop and laid their eggs in creative places, like inside the feed hopper and while sitting on their roost. However, between Brad checking them on his way up from checking heifers and my own dashes down to the coop, not a single egg froze and the chickens laid a baker’s dozen, not too shabby for a day with highs of 1 degree. One glorious degree.

A lot of time was spent either trying to stay warm or trying to get warm again, getting as much done outside as we could yet trying to do as little as possible in the frigid temps. I rolled a whole bunch of seed starting pots while listening to a podcast, and worked on seed starting plans, figuring out what to start when. Peppers and some greens will be some of the first things to get planted, first thing next week when my seed germination mats get here! Someone likes to keep this house super cold in the winter. My chick order is ready to go next time I stop in to the ag supply store, hopefully tomorrow if the roads are good enough to run to town to teach.

Something about cold and snow make a person dream of springtime. But one glance at the thermometer or the drifted world outside is a keen reminder that winter isn’t over yet and the cold and the mud and the snow are here for awhile yet.

Muddy pawprints smear the linoleum in the kitchen (thank goodness for linoleum), which I have resigned to enjoying clean for half an hour at a time, the intervals between growing longer and longer. The mud room looks like it was ransacked, littered with so many pairs of muck boots and coveralls and coats that it looks like half a dozen people live here, and random gloves because the puppies squirreled their mates away. You can’t even cross the six feet of mudroom floor without stepping on something – Boots, hats, mud puddles, scarves that got away from us, dog toys, a puppy or three, maybe a cat, and I tripped or something as I opened the door and managed to nail myself right in the forehead, leaving a beautiful goose egg. The whole house smells vaguely of smoke from smoky (and perhaps slightly scorched) articles of clothing drying here and there. The pups are finally sleeping and haven’t made a peep in quite awhile. The afternoon walk up the hill in -4 degrees must have convinced them that we were serious.

Oh yes. I love a snow day!

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