23 December 2017 – Cloudy and a high of 10°…Brrrrrr
Winter is here! We have about four inches of snow on the ground and it is frickin’ freezin’ out there. It looks like we are not going to get any warmer than the low 20’s for the next 10 days. At least there is only one night in the forecast where we are supposed to dip below zero, but we’ll see.
We have been busy with chores and have branched out of our hermit-crabiness and attended some Christmas activities and parties. Typically, the days are as follows. The routine has been to get up and have coffee and breakfast and wait, and wait, and wait for the sun to come up (around 7:18AM). Once that happens we put on 10 to 20 layers of clothing and head outside to scrape snow off the solar panels. Next, we shovel a place in the chicken run so the chickens can walk outside and we pour hot water onto their frozen water dish. Sometimes, I make them warm oatmeal for breakfast. (Don’t judge me, we usually have fresh eggs for breakfast so I’m just returning the favor.) Next, while Dave warms up the Mule I go and scoop the snow off the front of the beehive so if the little buzzers ever decide to come out their entrance/exit is not blocked. (I tried to get a picture of this, but my phone literally froze and would not work!)
Once the Mule is warmed up we kick it into four-wheel drive and go over to Cowboy Dave and Linda’s to feed the cows. They eat about 20lbs of hay per cow per day, so that is 280lbs for all fourteen. That means four bales in the morning and three bales in the late afternoon. We believe all the cows are pregnant and they eat every last scrap of hay we put out for them. They also don’t seem to have any sentimentality for their heifer offspring, and often we have to try to split them off to ensure the young girls can get some food and not get run over by the big fat cows. We also try to avoid getting run over by the big fat cows; they seem to be always very hungry and once they hear the Mule engine they come running as fast as they can. It can be pretty exciting seeing a 1600-lb big, snorting, wooly mammoth made of beef charging at you in the snow while you are holding her breakfast.
After feeding, we head to the barn and load up the evening hay rations, break the ice in the water tanks, and scoop out any poop in the loafing shed and barn corral. One good thing about the bitter cold weather is that it makes scooping poop a lot easier than when it is hot….ewwwww. We repeat the whole routine in the evening. I may have mentioned we are doing winter chores in exchange for two heifers. It is really not that much work, but all of these things need to be accomplished daily.
Dave and I are really enjoying the farm life. It is always fun to check up on the animals and get some fresh outdoor air first thing in the morning. It’s also nice to come into a warm house in the evening after making sure everyone is fed, cooped up, and ready for the cold nights. Then we generally have something for supper that has been cooking on the wood stove all day. Tonight, we are having baked potatoes that I put on the stove in a Dutch Oven with a little water in the bottom. We are topping the taters with left-over chili that was also cooked on the stovetop. Don’t worry, Moms, we are having a big salad too, so we are getting our veggies. Don’t worry pilots, we are also having some wine with dinner. It is Saturday night, after all. Wild times on the Holler.
While we are enjoying the work, winter makes everything a little more difficult. We worry a lot about the chickens being warm enough, but they are winter-hardy breeds so we hope they will be okay. We also have been burning through quite a bit of wood in the stove, which means about once a week we are filling up the wood box on the porch. Yesterday, the Mule was full of wood we needed to unload into the box, so Dave parked it in front of the porch thinking we would unload it prior to going out for evening chores. Well, the sun came out just long enough to heat the roof of the house and a giant avalanche of snow slid off right onto the back of the Mule.
We had to dig the wood out from under the snow drift. It reminded us of last year when we didn’t have a wood shed and we had to keep wood under a tarp which was constantly covered with snow as well.
Dave has also been spending the days plowing the snow off of Stagecoach Springs. The neighbors seem pretty happy we moved here! Again, no pictures due to frozen phone.
The Fire Department radio has quieted down a bit, (knock on wood), and the state fire fighters finally got the fire out in the State Park. We drove through there a few days ago and it actually doesn’t look too bad. It is obvious there was a fire but a lot of it seems to have burnt out the grass and underbrush and most of the trees look like they are in pretty good shape. God Bless the Fire Fighters!
We are looking forward to a quiet Christmas. Cowboy and Linda asked us to come for Christmas dinner, but other than that, it will be another typical winter day. It is supposed to be extremely cold on the 25th and even if we don’t get any more snow, we foresee a white Christmas. I think we might go sledding!
So that’s the update from the Holler. Dave and I want to wish everyone out there a very Merry Christmas. Cheers!