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Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category
Wednesday, March 4th, 2015
As we’re crawling towards spring, we’ve been stuck in a cold arctic spell. Last night it was -18 and today at noon, it warmed up to zero. With a wind. Plus we just got four inches of new snow. So Will and the “boys” set out to plow the driveway.
Hondo used to hate going in the truck. He got sick, drooled, and shook. But Will worked with him all winter, putting him in the truck and only driving around the circle in the yard, parking the truck with Hondo and Spencer in it. And it worked. Just lately, Hondo decided that he loves to ride! Now when Will says “load up boys,” Hondo is the first one to the truck door and the first inside. He sits right up and watches with interest as the snow flies, observing the birds, squirrels, and other wildlife he spots on the driveway. To Spencer, it’s old hat; he’s ridden shotgun in the pickup all his life and has always loved to go. It got so we even had to spell the word “go.” Then he learned to spell. Go figure…
While the boys were plowing, I started soaking my peat pellets so I can get my peppers and petunias planted. I’ve found that when I use hot water to soak them, they swell up faster and the warm, damp pellets encourage very fast germination of the seeds. I cram several pellets into a variety of trays I’ve saved for this purpose, plant two seeds per pellet, then slip the whole works into a plastic shopping bag. The containers then go on the shelves of my cheapo little plastic-covered greenhouse that I’ve got on the side of the wood stove. So they stay nice and warm, out of the way of Mittens; and seedlings pop up very fast.
They say it’s supposed to be 40° F or even higher, come Sunday. And let me say we’re REALLY looking forward to that! — Jackie
Monday, March 2nd, 2015
Yesterday I went down to the basement to retrieve our pepper seeds from the big plastic tote that holds 1/3 of our seeds. (Do you see some obsessive behavior there?) We’ve got seeds in ice cream buckets, jars, and tins, too! But it’s sort of a security thing. As long as we have seeds, we’ll never go hungry.
When I came upstairs, I found Hondo sitting on Spencer. He’s the sittingest dog I’ve ever seen. He just plops his butt down on anything handy, especially if it’s Spencer. Nice and soft, I guess.
I dug through my peppers and, oh, how hard it is to decide on which ones we’ll grow this year. Each year we try a few different varieties to see if we can find some new “favorites” or ones that produce very well for us. And because the big hoop houses are all set to get their plastic cover, we’ll be able to get ‘em growing faster this year. I think we’ll be taking our one small hoop house out to the new garden plot on the new forty and perhaps grow some different muskmelons. We’re planting Prescott Fond Blanc in the garden hoop house and I want to try a new pretty muskmelon in the little hoop house. We’ll see what spring brings.
One thing we’ve learned is to be flexible. That way if the weather doesn’t cooperate we don’t feel all depressed and “shot down.”
Today the sun is shining brightly and our new batteries are charging well. It’s 25 degrees and it feels SO good! Spring is coming. — Jackie
Thursday, February 26th, 2015
Our beef is starting to sell well and we’ve been delivering, all the way down to Duluth with some 90 miles away! And in the morning we do it again with the second four quarters. Yep, back to Duluth, but also two deliveries closer to home.
People are really happy to get naturally-raised beef with no hormones or antibiotics and from animals that have lived on pasture and good care.
We got home to find our cat, Mittens, stretched out on the sofa, having a siesta in the sunshine. (It was 7 degrees out, so the sun felt good!) Mittens DOES live a rough life, doesn’t she?
I’m having fun signing copies of my newest book, Summer of the Eagles. Requests are coming in from all over the country and it’s neat that so many different people are reading it. Not just “Western” fans. But, hey, it has something for everyone … even romance. — Jackie
Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
On Saturday we were hauling hay to the horses and cattle. On the very last big round bale, the Oliver ran out of fuel ten feet short of the gate into the training ring. Luckily, the cattle did have some hay left, they were just getting more. We had to wait until we went to town to get diesel fuel.
After getting fuel, Will filled up the tractor and primed the injectors. Then he gave it a shot of starting fluid and cranked it over. But because it was still below zero, no dice.
He waited instead of grinding the battery down since it was supposed to warm up. Once it warmed up a little he put the propane heater under the tractor for an hour or so, then repeated the sequence. It fired up and before I could get down the hill, Will had delivered the bale of hay and parked the tractor in its spot by the storage barn. Now when I say “warmed up,” that means that it was above zero today — ten degrees to be exact. But with a 30 mph wind, it was still COLD. Only the dogs like the weather.
We’ve got another weasel hanging around. Yesterday I saw his tracks coming from the orchard to the side of the chicken coop, around to the door where he stood with his feet up on the door sill. We’re hoping he’s thinking about MICE, as there is no better mouser in the world, not even Mittens. But after having my purebred rabbits and pheasants wiped out entirely by a weasel in one night years ago, it gives me the shivers. I’m glad we shut the birds in every night!
I’m waiting for my petunia seeds to come in the mail so I can get them started. They stay small so long and this year I want to get my hanging baskets planted with petunias early enough that when I set them out they’re flowering nicely.
Peppers go in tomorrow! Springtime when it’s 20 below! It’s a start, anyway. It’s sure nice that the days are getting so much longer. Darkness can get depressing. Even a couple more hours of daylight is SO welcome. — Jackie
Saturday, February 21st, 2015
I know we are all getting pretty darned sick of winter. We’ve decided that the weather forecasters are always predicting warmer weather at the end of the week, yet it never comes! So we decided that summer photos are simply a cabin fever solution to give folks some hope to cling to as the snow blows and the temperature falls. Again.
I decided to look back at September 6th photos of our place and share the COLOR with you. We are SO color-deprived in the winter! When you look at bright summer photos, your eyes can’t absorb what they’re seeing!
I’m starting petunias and peppers next week and have already dug out my potting soil and containers. That should help. Hang in there, guys, spring IS coming! — Jackie
Monday, February 16th, 2015
I got a jury summons a while ago and was kind of hoping that the trial would be cancelled. (I live 90 miles north of Duluth, where the Federal trial will be held and have to report at 7:15 a.m.) It’s going to be -18 tonight and the parking lot is three blocks uphill from the Courthouse. Bad knee and that cold wind whipping up from Lake Superior right down the hill means I’m not looking forward to it at all.
Actually, without a fully informed jury, it kind of scares me, basically deciding without all the information on a person’s future. Justice is not always just. I know from experiences of loved ones.
AND our Subaru is out of commission. Old ‘Ru is starting to have a really bad vibration in the rear end and New ‘Ru is at the mechanic’s getting a heater core leak fixed. It was fogging up the windshield and driver’s window and antifreeze fumes like that can kill you. So there was no putting that off. Luckily, I can borrow David’s truck for the drive.
Hopefully I’ll be home tomorrow evening and get back to my life. It’s been a stressful week, knowing that jury selection is coming up. I’ll be in the shower at 4 a.m. and on the road by 4:45. — Jackie
Thursday, February 12th, 2015
But we’re not complaining. We know you folks back East are suffering record-breaking snowfalls with nowhere to put it all. Been there. We know where you’re coming from. Luckily, our winter has been great, although light on the snow. We only have about a foot on the ground. Honest. And it’s not been too cold, either. So when we hit a week of sub-zero weather, it feels cold now. But we know spring is coming fast. In fact, in two weeks I’ll be starting my petunias and peppers. Yeah, green things!
We keep opening pumpkins and squash as we use them, saving all the good seeds to sell in our Seed Treasures seed business, which is doing well. I’m glad to report that we’ve sent seeds to every state in the union now, from Florida to Alaska. (By the way, any of you who bought seeds, I’d LOVE to see pictures of your garden this summer/fall!)
Just a note to let you know Spencer is 100% back to normal again and sure loves getting his pills 3 times a day. Why? Because I bought small cans of turkey cat food. I put a pill in the center of a tablespoon of food and he gobbles everything right up. Yum! We will be back at the vet’s to get him started on other antibiotics to treat his Lyme disease as well as getting Hondo tested and vaccinated if he comes up clear.
Our critters are all doing fine. The goats are doing well back up the hill in the old goat barn for the winter, having free choice hay outside the stock panels and grain being fed in a heavy duty plastic sled I bought on sale a week ago. The sleds work great to feed grain as they are SO easy to clean out before new feed is dumped in. In the summer, I can even scrub them out, if needed.
I’m happy to report that my Western novel, Summer of the Eagles, is selling well and has several 5 star reviews on Amazon. Would any of you who purchased the book, either on Kindle or as a paperback, give a review, also? I’m told that it really helps not only sell the book but place it higher in Amazon’s promotion list, which is important. Thanks! — Jackie
Wednesday, January 7th, 2015
Our little half-pint kitty, Mittens, has turned out to be a very efficient homestead varmint catcher. She’s caught hundreds of mice, voles and shrews, several full-sized rabbits and lately, she’s caught three weasels! Now weasels are pretty tough customers, being able to kill full-sized rabbits even though they only weigh a few ounces. We really do like weasels as they are not only pretty but very good mousers in their own right. Unfortunately, they also eat eggs and kill chickens. (Long ago one weasel wiped out my fancy pheasants and six purebred rabbits in one night.)
So when Mittens brings in weasels as well as voles, mice, and shrews, we’re pleased and pretty surprised too.
It’s been cold these past few days with wind chill temperatures down to -50, so we do chores, tuck in our critters and find plenty to do inside! We’re already starting to order a few fruit trees. St. Lawrence Nurseries carries an Ely pear, which is grafted from a pear in nearby Ely that has been standing there for more than 100 years. We really want one for ourselves! But the owners of St. Lawrence Nurseries are retiring and we don’t know if we’ll ever get a chance to get it again, so we’re ordering early.
Although it may seem strange, we’re starting to “think spring.” I’ve got a speaking engagement down in Aberdeen, SD, at the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Conference from Jan 22rd to 24th. So if you’re in the area, I’d love for you to stop by and say hi! I have an all afternoon, pre-conference workshop on the 22nd and others the following two days so I’ll be busy. But there’ll be plenty of time to visit between and after workshops.
Then in February, it’s time to start some peppers and petunias. — Jackie