Yeah. I know, it’s wintertime. I live most of the time in a mountain valley that’s had a LOT of snow in it since early December or so. I should have lots and lots of time to write, do crafts, and blog, right? That was my plan.
Weeelll, instead it’s been OMG the social whirl! Part of this has been connected to dealing with the weather, of course. We got socked with serious subzero temps in December along with big dumps of snow and downright crappy weather outside of the valley (not that the valley was necessarily without winter). There were a number of December nights where I entertained myself by looking at the weather forecast on the smartphone that claimed the temps would go up 10 degrees in the next hour…only to see that hour pushed further and further out. When you are talking about the difference between -14 and 4 degrees F, well, that’s significant.
Then there was dealing with the snow. And cold. Even though things have warmed up, several weeks ago we got the warning that ground frost levels had dropped to the depth of the city water mains, and we needed to keep running water 24/7 to keep the mains from freezing. After having a brief flirtation with frozen pipes early in December, we took that warning seriously. Still, we’d get a drop of around 4 inches of snow, which meant we needed to dig out the driveway to keep things open. One thing we discovered about the first winter here was that ice tends to form right off of the bottom step out front. Well, it didn’t this year, possibly because we kept digging it out. All the same, days on end of subzero temps where the daytime temps might break single digits above zero…MIGHT…led to a certain amount of survival prioritizing.
First of all, the snow was too deep and it was too cold to safely ride. I spent a lot of time just going out to the barn (if the roads weren’t too bad) to give Mocha petting and grain. We sure didn’t do a lot of riding this winter as a result. But part of my going to the barn also meant checking the big trough for the pasture horses, because they were sucking it dry 2-3 times a day. The water trough is heated, and there’s not a lot of moisture in hay. They were eating 35 pounds of hay a day or more during the worst weather. Mocha went through it just fine. One day I brought her into the barn because it was icy, she had front shoes on, and between freezing rain and wind she was having problems staying on her feet. I took several blankets out to the barn, figuring I’d need to blanket her.
Um. Nope. Even though she had ice in her mane, ice on her back, ice in her tail…no shivering. And she made it clear that She Was Not Staying In Any Stinking Barn. In her past life as a stall princess, you could leave her stall door open and she’d stay put. Not now. I went to fetch her some grain and hubby went to get her more hay, leaving the door closed but not latched (it was a gate, not a sliding door). Little Miss pushed the gate open and marched out, heading for the pasture in spite of hay in the trough. I intercepted her, put her back in, and once she was done with her grain, she tried to push that gate open and leave once again. We ended up leaving her in the barn for the day, but by late afternoon she was ready to go back out. Hey, she’s holding her weight just fine, she’s sound, and today we went for a short ride in snow that’s still deep but not too deep for a short ride, especially with conditioning time coming up.
Secondly, just keeping the house warm and keeping ourselves warm could be interesting. We use wood heat with radiant oil backup, and have winterized the heck out of the place. The woodstove will hold a fire most of the night, especially with a pair of oldsters who wake up in the middle of the night and throw a log on. Still, when temps dropped to the subzero level, there would be a period where things got cold. Hubby and I got really coiled up together at that point. When it’s that cold outside, even insulated walls radiate the chill.
Thirdly, getting out and walking around, while doable, also required caution because of ice and slick spots, as well as burning calories in the cold.
But add to all that my getting involved in some local groups, and yeesh. I’m liking it, but I’m also finding that the community (as I already knew) had a lot of things going in the depth of winter.
Now things are getting warmer. Oh, temps in the high 30s still feel positively tropical. Mocha is having to relearn how to carry a rider in something other than a tractor track and that breaking through crusty snow does not mean she’s sinking into a deep morass. Grass and plants pop out green from under the snow. One of our local roads has turned into a roller coaster due to frost heaves over every culvert.
And now, suddenly, it seems to be easier to focus.
Interesting how that works.