Winter, sort of

So, right after I wrote about our recent little foray into winter, this happened.

Blanket of snow over valley with black dog

The kind of snow that means breaking out the snowshoes and thinking about what to take before embarking on any car journey. We haven’t had a big snow before the end of November like that in I don’t know how long. Reggie set out to demonstrate frolicking in a big way.

First deep snow and a dog in thrall

Dog jumping in snow

Of course, the chickens had absolutely no interest in coming outside in that kind of weather. Their hatch remained closed.

Deep snow behind the chicken coop

It was the perfect time to re-introduce what I like to call breakfast in bed for the chickens: chopped apple, currants or raisins and oats, warmed up before delivery.

Chickens enjoying a hot breakfast

The sheer volume of snow when we have such a big fall is always kind of amazing, and it makes the most everyday things look completely different, somehow special.

Solar panel covered in deep snow

Plants bending under the weight of heavy snow

Apple tree fringed in snow

Not surprisingly perhaps, we’ve now seen a warming trend over the past week, and our snow is nearly all gone. Sleds are stranded on the hill outside our house, and we’re a bit more carefree about what we throw on to go outside.

There are benefits: last night’s Christmas festival with fireworks on our town’s main street was deeply enjoyable as we weren’t shivering in a deep freeze or hampered by slippery surfaces. My older son was able to ride his bike to work today. And the chickens are out again; this morning’s hot breakfast was enjoyed on their ‘dining rock’, instead of in the coop where they often remain for days on end when it’s really cold and snowy.

In truth, though, we want our snow back, so that we can get into winter properly, rather than just dabbling in it and never being sure of what’s around the corner. Come on winter, get serious and settle down.

12 Comments

Filed under Family, Farm life, nature

12 responses to “Winter, sort of

  1. We’re having winter here too, which is an unusual occurrence! It’s been -4 the last few days, down to about -6 at night, and with a good brisk ocean wind coming in at about 50km, we’ve had windchill down to -15. That’s pretty cold for us. It’s holding steady, though, and the bright days are a blessing. It’s set to change later next week, back to rain and gloom.
    Question: What do you cold weather people do for your chickens besides breakfast in bed (I am SO not telling my chooks about what your birds get served!)? Mine have deep bedding (about 10″ right now) and a heat lamp 24/7 which is keeping their house at about 0C. People in your climate must have a routine/system for this, since it’s the norm, not the exception surely?

    Love the picture of Reggie doing a Tigger, and your winter landscape shots look like Christmas cards.

    • df

      You have had winter – that’s very cold for where you are! The bright days must be very welcome indeed.

      I have to confess that we kind of leave our chickens to it, apart from warmed up breakfasts. We had plans to put in a heating bulb last year, but didn’t get to it in time. The chickens did really well through a long, pretty cold winter. This year we added more hay bales to their coop to give them loads of cozy places to nestle into, but that’s it. Their coop has some simple insulation, but it’s really very basic. In spite of that they seem to do very well, so we decided that we’re raising tough birds. From talking to others who raise chickens out this way, a heat bulb is about all that any of them do; it seems to be expected that they are hearty!

  2. Lovely photos! You’re a lovely mum giving your chickens a warm nourishing breakfast. They must be freezing their feathers off – I know I would be. xx

    • df

      Thanks Sas! I do have a soft spot for them and a warmed up breakfast seems like the best thing I can do. They are surprisingly tough, which always amazes me!

  3. Helena

    Hello,
    We don’t have winter here in the UK yet ,and I must say I am very disappointed not to have snow. I love the photo of your chickens having
    breakfast, I think my chickens would like that.
    Enjoy reading your blog.
    Helena.

    • df

      The winters in the UK have changed an awful lot over the past 40 years or so, haven’t they. My husband (from Eastbourne) remembers very different winters from when he was a child. Oh yes, I bet your chickens would appreciate that kind of warm breakfast. Thanks so much for taking time to comment, it’s lovely to hear from you.

  4. solarbeez

    One of those photos looks suspiciously like a row of solar panels. Maybe you wrote about them before I started following you. If not, I’d like to know all the particulars because I’m into solar. Like how big the system is, what kind of inverter, batteries? grid intertie? My system is much smaller, but in the summertime I can brag that I run my printing presses on solar. I doubt if very many people anywhere can say that. :-)

    • df

      Sorry to be slow in getting back to you; I haven’t been online much recently. Our solar project was installed by an independent company that covered all of the costs; we simply make 10% of the value of the electricity generated on an annual basis. It’s a 10 kW system that occupies roughly 1,200 sq ft. I’ll have a look at our records to see if I can answer your other questions; because we aren’t responsible for managing it in any way, I honestly don’t look at it a great deal. We would love to be off grid and I love the sound of running your printing presses entirely off solar! The money we generate essentially offsets what we spend on electricity each year, so in theory we’re covered, but it’s not the same as actually generating your own electricity!

      • solarbeez

        Thanks for getting back on that. A 10 KW system is so much bigger than my little 1.3 KW system. I bet you’re really pumping out some serious juice when the sun is shining. Don’t worry about the little details, I can already tell it’s a battery-less grid-tied system. Since I researched my system so much before my son installed it, I am interested whenever I see someone else’s panels. I had a ‘double take’ when I saw yours covered in snow, thinking…how could I have missed that blog? :-)

      • df

        You are most welcome! When I was walking the dog this morning I had a peek at the labels on the underside of the installation and there is of course a lot of info there if you are interested! I’d be happy to share. They were manufactured by Suntech. The output is great when that old sun decides to shine :)

  5. Winter has definitely arrived here. We’ve had single digit temperatures — we’re headed there again tonight — and we had our first appreciable snow yesterday. As far as I’m concerned, this is still the honeymoon phase. I like the snow and wonder at the beauty of it all. In about 6 weeks, I’ll get the 7 year itch, starting to wonder if it wouldn’t be better if the days were a bit warmer. In 10 weeks, I’ll want a divorce. :)

    • df

      I hope you can enjoy an extended honeymoon with your own winter, as I completely understand about the beginnings of an itch and threats to end the relationship as winter wears on. I’ve been known to retract every nice thing I’ve ever thought or felt about this season some time in February (when family in England are talking about the daffodils emerging!). Guess we’re a bit a fickle!

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