What a time of year in what a wonderful part of the country. I know a lot of people in a lot of places say this, but truly, if you don’t like the weather around here, just wait a week. Or a few hours. It’ll change.
We’re halfway through February, and we’ve enjoyed some seasonal weather, chilly but not brutal, intermingled with days so warm you can smell the sap in the trees and the warming soil. There’s an extra something in the air. The promise of coming spring. But right now we’re watching for the winter storm that’s forecasted to start tomorrow.
A snow squall this morning was followed by blue sky this afternoon, teasing us with what’s forecasted, while we pray and hope for some of the moisture we so desperately need. While the meteorologists woefully and apologetically predict snow, ranchers are welcoming it for the moisture but prepping for what could turn into a challenging week. Once again we’re battening down, with forecasts of up to 18 inches of snow, heavy winds, and frigid temperatures. The three surprise calves that were born last month really were fortunate, and are healthy and strong going into this cold.
And what a teasing, taunting, beautiful winter it has been. It is as if winter and spring keep bumping into one another. One day I’m getting into my garden, stripped down to a tank top, the next I’m bundled up in heavy bibs stumbling around trying to keep animals watered and fed. One day Brad and I are splitting wood in a balmy 50-feels-like-60 degrees, the next we’re watching snow flurries and breaking ice on all the water. One day my laundry is hanging on the line to dry, the next I think I’m wearing everything in my closet. One day the chickens are happily free ranging in the springlike temps, the next day they glare at me as I let in a blast of cold air opening their door.
The one thing that is a constant is the pups – Snow or shine, they love it outside! I love looking out and seeing them romp, or finding a pile of kittens and puppies on the deck soaking up the sunshine. Josie got to experience her first few times riding the ATV, and she and Bess have come with us on some of our project afternoons.
The warm days we’ve filled with as much outdoor work as possible, reveling in the winter warmup – In Brad’s free time he has felled and chunked a number of dead trees, as well as pulling useable firewood out of the machine piles from when some logging was done several years ago. We hauled the splitter and a dump trailer up the hill to one of the piles and filled it full, and it turned into something of a late Christmas present for the folks. There’s nothing like wood heat on a cold day! And the girls were great help.
We’ve done some odds and ends of wintertime and spring-prep cow work, bringing the first calf heifers into the hayfield so they can be checked easier when they start calving. Brad is getting the calving shed set up and we’re just hoping the heifers wait until after this snow storm to start! We’ll be moving the rest of the cow herd tomorrow, bringing them from the north of the ranch into the center of the ranch for calving.
I’ve gotten into my garden, cleaning it up and adding compost, turning it under, wetting it down, and getting it ready for spring planting. So exciting! Every few weeks when there has been a warm up, I’ve watered the trees we planted, including the oak and ash sapling transplants, and have also doused my perennial garden a few times. Green is already starting to show! I bent a couple of twigs and even the transplants have survived. When I was churning up my vegetable garden, I uprooted this strange mess of roots, so fine I first thought it was fungus, only to realize it was my chives. Oops. Fortunately some plants are pretty forgiving.
The chickens are really picking up their egg laying, with a record breaking 17 eggs yesterday, and 16 the two previous days! I love being able to meet my customer demands, and sold three 18-packs and two 12-packs this weekend, and five 18-packs at the beginning of last week. I’ve been getting my plan in place for purchasing chicks soon, which is extremely fun to anticipate.
On the cold days I’ve baked bread and sourdough muffins, gotten some writing done, canned the rest of my cranberries, brainstormed chickens and chicks, planned my garden, and cleaned, cleaned, cleaned, the result of puppies and mud and the blurry line between winter and spring.
I went through all my seeds today and am pretty well set for my garden, except for one or two more varieties of tomatoes and some pumpkins. I’ll be getting some greens started in the house soon, a little indoor “salad garden,” since I’m hankering to be growing something. Maybe it will become a permanent off-season thing. To my rancher husband’s chagrin, I eat a lot of lettuce and greens. He says I’ll eat him out of business.
What beautiful days these are, when winter and spring collide.