Friday, February 27, 2015

Wishful thinking, maybe

Is it my imagination or just wishful thinking? To me it feels as though winter’s grip is loosening just the tiniest bit. Well, after tonight, anyway.

Even on a cold day now, the sun is warmer. When I can stand in the afternoon sun someplace out of the wind, a day can feel almost balmy. It’s a welcome improvement.

I look forward to resuming my walks in the woods, preferably without the ever-present Yak-trax. Or even, just walking anywhere without Yak-trax. Those things are wonderful but I still can’t walk fast enough to work up a sweat or get my heart rate up. It feels like a long time since I’ve done that, and I’m about half afraid it will be like starting over again. I look forward to the activity, though.

I’m also looking forward to having a cleaner cabin. Since sometime in January, every weekend has brought snow, and my major activity this winter has been snow shoveling, not housecleaning. Truthfully, I don’t much like housecleaning, in general. My opinion is that I won’t go to my grave wishing I’d kept a cleaner house. But I wouldn’t mind spending one weekend catching up on my cleaning. That’s not unreasonable.

Monday, February 23, 2015


I have been hibernating. Below zero temperatures and winds 25-50 mph, make for brutal winter weather. Even a winter-lover like me is tired of it.

Here in southern PA, this is the coldest February ever in more than 80 years of full records. And, till the month is over, it may well be the coldest month ever, surpassing all those Januarys too. For February 2015 the average temperature is 21.45, well below the average of 32.4 and even well below the previously coldest February that featured a balmy 24 degree average.

Every weekend this month has featured a storm of some kind, which means I’ve spent my weekends shoveling snow, not taking photos or even sitting at a computer. My chickens have survived thus far. One night I was tempted to bring them inside. That was the night it was -5 with 35 mph wind and up to 55 mph gusts. I decided against it, mostly because the only place inside where I could put them was my bathroom, and I just couldn’t deal with that idea. So instead I surrounded the coop with two bales of straw, covered it with a blanket and a tarp and hoped for the best. They seem to have done okay.

This past Saturday the latest snowstorm brought whiteout conditions and more wind. It was quite a storm. I took the photo I’m posting today in the morning before the storm hit. The sky certainly proved the old adage "red sky at morning, sailor take warning."

For myself, I am looking forward to days where the temperatures get as high as, perhaps, 40; that don’t drop below zero or into the single digits at night, and that have calm winds. When that happens, my hibernation will end.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

For the birds...

Northern cardinal, American goldfinch, junco, blue jay, titmice, Carolina chickadee, red-belling woodpecker, downy woodpecker, Carolina wren. They were the visitors at my winter feeders this morning. Crows flew overhead but didn’t deign to investigate. Two deer, a large doe and a still-small summer fawn, watched from about 20 feet away as I fed the chickens.
Ice hides under the latest coating of snow, making the morning chores treacherous. I inch along, careful with every step. It is not a pretty sight.

It’s a typical winter morning at my cabin. The mornings are still rather dark, partly because the hours of daylight are still short and partly because even when the sun is up elsewhere, the mountain hides the disc until nearly 9 a.m. Officially sunrise is still a bit after 7 a.m. The evenings are longer, and I do get the benefit of those longer minutes. Twilight hangs on later, now. It is still not fully dark even at 6:30 p.m., though the sun sets nearly an hour earlier.

The chickens still haven’t started laying again; they are still on winter egg break. They are done molting, though, and all their new feathers are grown in. I am spoiling them with mealworms and fresh sprouts, hoping to encourage them to start laying again soon. I miss those fresh eggs. I’ve heard that 14 hours of daylight is the optimum time for a chicken to lay eggs, and I’m a long way from that. I’m sure the overcast skies aren’t helping either. I guess I’ll just have to be patient a little while longer.

Monday, February 09, 2015

A walk in the fog


2015 is an odd winter here on Roundtop Mtn. It trudges along, overcast skies and cold temperatures. Then it warms up for a day, followed by something falling out of the sky for a day, followed by a bitterly cold sunny day with brutal wind. Then it’s back to a string of overcast, and, like today, often foggy days.

Yesterday was the warm day, and today is the something falling out of the sky day. Tomorrow will be the windy day. I did manage to get out for a walk with Skye yesterday. I’ve worn my Yak-trax virtually every day since sometime in December, and at the moment I’ve gone through 1.5 pairs of them. I’ve just ordered another pair that I hope will see me through the rest of this winter.
The reason I am breaking them is because of days like yesterday. Where I walked was bare ground, muddy ground, ice, snow and slush. I think it’s the bare ground that does them in, but I can’t walk on the ice, snow and slush without them. I say I’ve gone through 1.5 pairs of them this winter but that’s a bit misleading.
I started the winter with the pair from last winter, and one of them broke, so I got a second pair. Then a different one broke, leaving me with a mismatched pair. Then this morning I noticed the rubber on one of them had broken again. So this morning I ordered another pair, and will soon toss the broken one but will keep its mate as a spare. They last longer in winters where the ground is uniformly ice- or snow-covered. Bare patches are the worst.