Once New Year’s faded and another wave of sub-zero temps descended upon Enterprise, it seems like suddenly I’m finding all sorts of Things To Do. I joined the Soroptimists, visited the local dressage chapter’s meeting to find out about their shows this year, attended a presentation about local historian Grace Bartlett, had a writing date with another local writer, and went to the Quilter’s Guild Sew Day. There hasn’t been much opportunity to do anything with the horse because it’s either been too cold to ask her to do much, or I was down with a 24 hour bug plus all those social things I was doing. And, oh yeah, working on the production side of Netwalking Space plus starting a new Goddess’s Honor short story to help me work out some worldbuilding elements.
It has been beautiful and sunny. But even in the sun, the highest temps have been single digits, and at night they’ve been approaching -20 F in places. We drove up to Wallowa Lake the other day and saw rafts of loosely forming ice floating on the surface. There’s a foot and a half of snow on the ground, more where it has drifted–but thankfully nothing like the Grande Ronde Valley on the other side of the Wallowas. Traveling outside of the County is a challenge right now. The road to LaGrande is closed at Elgin. Even if we could get to LaGrande and I-84, 84 is closed to Pendleton. The Tollgate pass from Elgin to Weston and then Pendleton is closed. The only way out is north, over a twisty pair of grades descending into the Grande Ronde River, then climbing back out to get to Clarkston…and even so, the way the weather is throughout most of the West Coast, I’m not sure anyone can get anywhere right now.
It’s been a tough winter so far. Lots of people report frozen pipes, stubborn vehicles, and other weather-related mechanical issues. The deep snow makes it difficult for ranchers to feed, and it’s deep enough that the deer are struggling and getting into haystacks or eating landscaping in town. The other day, I saw one of the town fawns hunkered up next to an evergreen bush, not even trying to eat but shivering (at -4). I’ve seen town deer right up next to people’s houses eating shrubs.
This is the weather we expected when we bought the place in Enterprise–foot and a half snow, periods of significant subzero cold–but didn’t see the first two winters we owned it. It’s much the same as what we went through 35 years ago–lots of snow and cold. But this house is much more sturdy than our little rental was (although the same vintage), and we winterized it pretty thoroughly. So far it seems to be working. On those cold subzero nights, the radiant oil heat (yes, in old-fashioned radiators) kicks in for a few hours once the wood stove dies down. During the day, the little stove heats the house up pretty well. We’ve also been baking to supplement the house heat.
Mocha is doing well so far in this weather. She’s relaxed, calm, ready to eat anything that presents itself as horse food, and has the energy to be a bit snorty when I ground drove her the other day. Too cold to ride, too slick to ride, too deep to ride–I realized that I could do some bending and suppling work by ground driving her for five to ten minutes. If the footing hadn’t been slick, I think she would have broken into a trot. She’s got a good solid fur coat and looks good. Her attitude is good as well–she’s coming up to me in the pasture and is ready to get her grain and a little bit of work. I mix her grain with a bit of water and crushed peppermint, and these days she comes up to where she can watch me in the grain shed.
Arrgh, this post seems so flat and prosaic. I had visions of it being vivid and descriptive and wonderful…and it’s just bleh. Oh well. It’s wintertime.