Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Was That Crazy, Or What?

Our January thaw was amazing.  Temperatures were in the 50s and all the snow melted except for some small hard strips hiding in ditches and under overhanging pine boughs.  I watched our driveway change from a tilted ice rink to a normal patch of stone you could safely walk across again.

This break in the winter weather afforded us the chance to do some outdoor work we didn't imagine we'd get to, such as cleaning the concrete yard between the sheep barn and feed bunk. The sheep drag an awful lot of bedding out the two doors as they walk back and forth to the 'picnic table area' and of course leave lots of sheep berries out there too.  We scrape that area clean daily in above-freezing weather but once we get snow that sticks around there's no good way to do it.  That area becomes a trampled glacier of frozen manure and bedding. It's not slippery for the sheep but on warm days the surface thaws enough to make it sloppy and unpleasant to walk through.  Usually it's there until spring but this year....

For the internal combustion engine and hydraulics, we thank thee!

It was forecast to fall below freezing at night so we scattered some Sure Foot (a brand of barn calcite) on the wet concrete.  Pro tip - use this around your house, garage and yard in place of 'ice melt' products.  It's completely non-toxic to animals, birds, fish, plants and bees.  Find it in places like Tractor Supply or other feed stores.  It's usually cheaper than other material meant to make ice safe, too.  The down sides are that it comes in 80 lbs bags (so eat your Wheaties before shopping) and it does track into the house on shoes and paws.  It's ground stone so not friendly with hard flooring but it sweeps up easily.

Another day we went to the woods to augment the firewood supply.  Usually that's a move of desperation in January but with no snow it was just another fall-ish day. Andy managed to take down at least a dozen moribund ash trees which is about the only species that burns well without curing.  Holly was thrilled.

"A walk in the woods?  Heck, yes!"

Once they were down Andy pulls them out into the field to dismember.  It's safer than using the chainsaw with brush and whippy saplings underfoot and around you.

Despite the lack of snow the day presented other challenges.  Fortunately it was only this one wheel that found a soft spot.  Andy was able to back up and get away from the area without further problems.

The field next to the woods was put into soybeans last year by the fellow who rents land from us.  He never did harvest them last fall, due to the heavy rains I suppose.  They seem to be standing OK and not deteriorating but the fields are floating now, so they may end up a loss.  That would be a shame.  Someone has made use of them, though.  It's out of focus but some enterprising chipmunk or red squirrel has packed soybeans into the cavity of this damaged sapling at about chest height.

Other woodsy critters were taking food out of the trees rather than putting it in.  Here a woodpecker has made a neat rectangular hole (bit hard to see but take my word for it) which is a hallmark of a pileated woodpecker.

Being in the woods is thirsty work and Holly tiptoed into this puddle of ice water for a drink.

"Wild water is the best!  Lots of flavor!"

Makes me shiver just to think of putting my feet in it.  


  1. Glad you could take advantage of the temporary thaw. Winter temps this year have bobbed up and down like a sine wave!

  2. What a nice little break in January.

  3. I loved every minute of the January break. Now the temperature is more winterlike here, but still very little snow. Your pictures are great!

  4. Great post! Thanks for sharing.