Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Into a season of whiteness and storms

We just entered the snowstormy phase of winter.  January through March is when snowfall is frequent enough to not be remarkable.   The temperature sometimes stays well below freezing for a while, like it did earlier this week, which keeps snow already on the ground from freezing.  Occasionally the temp lifts up to the 30s, which seems to summon snow out of eager-to-appear clouds.

So white is and will remain the major landscape theme for a while. This is when the ground is deeply blanketed in white, and that blanket's upper level rises steadily. Snowbanks and drifts are just parts of the landscape.  Trees, cars, fences, outbuildings are always covered. We cut and recut trails and trenches for daily routines: to the chicken house, the wood piles, the lower compost pile, the main sledding cut.

It's also the season of continuous ice.  Ice sneaks under snow and crusts on top of it.  Bodies of water are partly or entirely covered with ice, as Charlie Hohn reminds us.

About once a month comes a huge storm, and we prepare like our southern friends do against a hurricane: stockpiling emergency supplies, assuming a loss of electricity.  We've been lucky so far.

Naturally we're not growing any crops now.  In fact now is when our autumn harvests become even more precious.  Each potato feels like a victory against the suspension of growing, a treat stolen from time.  And yet the limitations of our larder remind us how far we have to go in becoming self-sustaining.  That's a goad for our spring planting planning: more plots, more plants!

Meanwhile, Ceredwyn's chicken house light hack continues to bear fruit, er, eggs. Every night we see the solar-powered lights glow, illuminating brave hens.  Every morning Ceredwyn hauls hot water out to the coop, and brings back eggs, like this tremendous haul from two days (!):

So we keep feeding ourselves even in this Nordic time: fresh eggs from chilly chickens, potatoes from storage, chicken meat from the freezer.  Progress.

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