Posts Tagged ‘winter’

My “track”:

Look closely; it’s there!  Yes, I ran yesterday.  Actually, I ran until the snow got too deep and I had to walk.  I got in 30 laps, until I looked like the Abominable Snowman.

My running buddy:

In fact, she shows up from the neighbors’ house, runs circles around me, begs to be petted, and then races off to chase deer, cats, birds . . . and then she catches back up with me and does it all over again.

The creek in snow:

Cold frames seems a particularly appropriate name today:

I’m not sure there’s still something growing under all that snow!

Is it delivery?

No, of course it isn’t delivery.  We can’t get delivery here in normal weather, much less when there’s almost a foot of snow on the ground.  If you missed the recipe earlier, it’s here.

So, the NWS claims we got 9-12 inches of snow.  Our thermometer read 1 degree F above zero this morning.  How’s the weather in your neck of the woods?

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Oat and Wheat Bread

A nearby bluff

First, for my regular readers, let me say a belated merry Christmas and a blessed new year.  I have no good explanation for my long absence, short of too much off-homestead work followed by hibernation.  Yep, you read that right.  My best explanation for my failure to post is that I’ve been hibernating.  Oh, sure, I’ve kept cooking and baking and even doing winter gardening and taking long walks or jogs outside, but those things have mostly happened on the bright sunny days, and generally my days are measured by the sunlight.  When the sun goes down, I’m ready for bed.  And I don’t want to get up again until the sun rises.

Thursday the Ozarks were hit by a slick mess of ice and snow.  I was sixty miles from home when the storm changed from rain to snow, but I had the luck to make it home safely.  All the while, as the slushy mess swirled around me, I kept wishing for a place to hibernate.  When I got home, I curled up with the “barn cats” on the sofa and settled in for the rest of the winter.

Snow-Swept Ozarks Field at Dusk


Truth is, when I lived up north, our quick-moving snow storm would have shut down nothing.  I would have bravely ventured out, walking a bit more carefully or driving a bit more slowly but gone on with my business.  Still, I think that slowing down and re-charging during the winter is an idea from nature that most of us could use.

Cold Frames . . . . Brrrrr

Do you know the best time to plant most trees?  Autumn.  Plant in the autumn, and the tree will establish itself through its roots, growing strong while appearing dormant above ground.  Winter is important for tree growth, even if we can’t see it happen.

Miss C., cozy for winter

I’m not sure if I’m most like a tree or a bear or a ground squirrel or even one of the cats (who seem determined to teach me how to enjoy winter), but I know sometimes I just need to step back, snuggle up in a comfy chair, and re-establish my roots.  Winter is a great time to do just that.  Now, though, as the days get longer and brighter, even though it’s colder, I’m starting to feel like a tree, prepping its buds for blooming.

Copyright 2011 Ozarkhomesteader, including images.

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About twenty years ago, a bevy of swans made their winter home on the edge of the Arkansas Ozarks, after a storm blew them off course.  They are impressive

Matisse Swans, copyright Roger Head

as they gather on a local pond every winter, beautiful in their elegance and powerful as they trumpet.  Today, however, I admit that I was happy to see a pair on the wing, aimed north.  Swans do fly in a V formation (called “wings”), but they also mate for life, and I assume the pair I saw this morning was on

Swan Pair, copyright Roger Head

a practice run and therefore without the rest of their wing.  (My husband said it was date morning and that they just needed some couple time.) Perhaps spring is coming after all.  Safe travels, swans, and I hope we’ll see you next year.

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  Short excerpts with full URL and attribution to Ozarkhomesteader are welcome.  Photographs copyright Roger Head.  Please contact Ozarkhomesteader for permission to reproduce photographs.

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With temperatures running 10 to 15 (and even 25) degrees F below normal for weeks, snow on the ground, and most days looking like twilight at noon, I’ve found myself slipping into the Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that I used to battle when I lived in the northern tier of states. Once I recognized the problem, I vowed to stay in control of my life.  Scientific research over the past decade or more has given us the tools to fight SAD, wherever we live:  get out when we can, increase cardiovascular exercise, and find (or make) green spaces.

SAD is caused by a deficiency of light.  The most obvious way to fight it is to expose ourselves to as much natural light as possible.  Folks who live in the far north sometimes park themselves in front of full-spectrum light boxes.  I prefer just getting out and walking.

Brisk walking has a second benefit, that of cardiovascular exercise.  Research has indicated that 45 minutes of cardiovascular exercise several times a week is more effective at lifting depression than all of the front-line anti-depressant pills–and exercise costs you nothing and has no nasty side effects.  Moderate cardiovascular exercise can boost your immune response too, making you less vulnerable to the viruses that can bring you down in the winter.  Taking your cardiovascular exercise as walking or jogging outside can also give you glimpses of green, another mood lifter.

Much more recent research has found that 71% of people with depression were less depressed after spending time in green space.  I’m surprised how much green our landscape has even in winter.  While it’s not spring green, it’s still green.  If you live in a big city, consider seeking an indoor garden, such as St. Louis’s Climatron (Missouri) or Madison’s Olbrich Conservatory (Wisconsin).  To find an indoor garden near you, try googling “conservatory” and “garden.”  Chances are you may find an indoor oasis of green in the midst of snow.  I also find great joy in starting my summer garden seeds indoors at this time of year.  (For more on seed starting, see here.)  Even that little bit of new green life perks me up.

If the dreary days have you down, get out, work out, and find some green.  You’ll live happier and longer for it.

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  Short excerpts with a full URL and attribution to Ozarkhomesteader are welcome.  Please contact me for permission to use photographs.

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During our last snow storm, I photographed and posted several examples of animal tracks in the snow.  I couldn’t resist sharing a new snow photograph with you, this time with the perpetrator clearly in sight.  If I had seen these paw prints without seeing the action, I might never have figured them out.  Yes, that’s front paws only, with back paws that ultimately ended up in front of the front paws.  The next leap took her several feet away.  She was attacking chunks of snow as they fell off the trees.

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After more than an inch of ice and at least half a foot of snow precipitated on us and then lingered for four days in late January and early February, I had my doubts about whether my veggie tunnels would still have viable veggies in them.  Temperatures, after all, have been running about ten degrees below normal for several weeks, and adding ice and snow on top of that did not bode well for plants that like sunshine.  It took some time to brush off the snow and break off the ice, but I’m delighted to report that almost everything survived.  Given that it was still quite cold when I took photographs, I didn’t want to take the tunnels all the way off, so “after” photographs are through the tunnels.

On November 29:

January 31:

Are those really veggie tunnels under all of that snow and ice?

Yes, and those are cold frames in the distance.

February 1:  time to take off the snow

They’re looking pretty sad.  Did anything survive?

Yes!  the veggies live!

I also dug several radishes and some carrots from the cold frames yesterday, so those too continue to thrive.

We’ve already got at least four inches more snow today (February 8), and radar shows a heavy band of snow moving in within a few hours and then more overnight, for a total of 8-12 inches.  I’ll sleep easy through this storm, though, knowing that my winter garden is surviving, snug under its tunnels of veggie love.

If you’re in the path of this latest storm (or any other) make sure you tuck in your veggies before you tuck in yourself.

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We’ve got more snow on the way here in the Ozarks.  The forecast reminded me that I have more photographs of deer neighbors to share.  Enjoy!A fawn (almost yearling) entering the yard.

In the background is the huge stone wall that my husband built from stones he found in the cleared area of the property.  I really do think we grow better rocks here than we do anything else.

The fawns (almost yearling) twins.

They always seem to know where the good grass is under the snow–or is that where I spilled some bird seed?

For more wildlife photography, see here, here,  here, and here.

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader, including all photographs.  Please contact me about permission to use photographs.

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A few weeks ago the Dot Earth  blog on the New York Times included a fascinating photograph of animal tracks in the snow.  The tracks indicated a conflict between predator and prey, a raptor attacking a rodent.  Since we had a relatively big snow fall over about 36 hours here from Thursday through Saturday, I was reminded of the Dot Earth blog when I trudged out in the snow.  Following along the creek behind my husband, I almost lost his tracks when I headed uphill following another set of tracks.  We crossed them again on the bluff line, where the hoofprints were better preserved on the flatter terrain.The perpetrators were deer, who used a cut in the bluff line to get down to the creek from a nearby field.

Of course, our cats’ tracks are all over the place, including near these hundreds of bird tracks and more deer tracks.

and near these mouse or rat tracks (coming in a bit fuzzy from the left and then ending in two streaks near the feline paw print).  The good news for the mouse is that the cat tracks look older, although it does look like the mouse tracks end abruptly.  Any thoughts from readers?

These mouse (or rat) tracks fascinated me for how far that they ran across the wide expanse of snow.  The mouse ran from an old, downed pine tree to a holly bush. Then I found more tracks from the holly bush to the front porch, for a total distance of at least a hundred feet.  Was this mouse meeting up with the mouse that disappeared on the other side of the porch?

My husband also ran into Spit, the possum that hangs out around our place, last night in the alley between the house and garage.  (Actually, they both caught each other by surprise and both nearly scared each other to death, according to my husband.)  I looked this morning to see if I could see where Spit went–and where he’s been hanging out, because until last night we hadn’t seen him since the cold snap in early January.  These must be his prints, venturing out briefly and then turning around and, apparently, following a ledge around the house, to crawl under the back porch.  Spit’s prints appear raised in these photos because of oddities of photography and melting snow.And here are the possum tracks turned around on each other:

By the way, I found more mouse tracks near Spit’s tracks.  The cats better get back to work, instead of constantly begging to come into the warmth.

You may also be interested in Tracks in the Snow, Revisited, where I captured the perpetrator of a bizarrely backwards set of isolated tracks.

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  Short excerpts with full links to this site are welcome.  Please contact me for permission to use photographs.

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Barn Cats

This is a barn cat.

What?  you say that doesn’t look like barn?

Okay, it’s not the barn. It’s the master bed.

Yes, he does look like he’s made himself at home.  And, yes, he is a large cat.

If you want to have good barn cats, you need to take good care of them.  That means feeding them good food every day, giving them fresh water, “fixing” them, and taking them to the vet regularly.  If, like us, you live near a lot of predators who think your barns cats are good eats, you  need to make sure they’re inside some solid building at night.  And when it’s bitterly cold (like it was here a few weeks ago when I snapped this picture), bringing your “barn” cats into the warmth is good.  It’s not necessary to share your pillow, but I was about to wash the sheets anyway.

If Old Man Winter is gunning for you tonight like he is for us here in the Ozarks, I wish you safety and warmth.  We’re hoping the ice quickly changes to snow.  And, yes, the “barn” cats are inside and warm, looking like they were born royalty.

Copyright Ozarkhomesteader 2010.

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One of the things I love about the southern Ozarks is that most Januaries we get a few days that feel like late spring in other parts of the country.  Today is one of those days.  Although moisture is pouring into the region from the Gulf of Mexico, it brought with it a temperature that is approaching 70 degrees F.  Had I not had family issues to deal with off our little croft, today would have been an excellent day for planting.  As it is, I still took a few moments to listen to the peepers.  These beautiful little cheeping frogs came back to life after the frigid days of a little over a week ago, reborn in the storms we got overnight and the warm winds blowing up from the south.  Do you celebrate weather surprises, those unexpected changes in season?

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