Snow Day!

We woke up this morning to almost a full foot of snow, and it was beautiful! It was still lightly falling, and undisturbed in all directions with blanketed pine and poplar trees as a backdrop. And then Ceri rampaged across it with her Jolly Ball for hours. So much for pristine, “cozy cabin in the woods” postcard views. I have to say she did create some decent walking trails though.

But not everyone appreciated the first real snow of winter. I opened the coop doors and the geese started running for the door like they always do, then came to a skidding stop just before the ramp and refused to go any further. It’s not the first winter rodeo for most of our chickens, but they wouldn’t come out until Gene plowed the driveway with the tractor and I shoveled a path from the coop door to the cleared area.

A sole guinea ventured out, found it distasteful, and promptly flew up to the very top of a poplar tree. And then proceeded to sit up there and screech non-stop for the next hour. The rest of the guineas were smart enough to stay in the coop, but they kept screeching back since they don’t like to be separated. Since another storm is supposed to come through tonight (and they were being that loud – some of us have to work, you know) I enlisted Gene to help me persuade him to leave the perch and go back to the coop, by way of launching snowballs at him until he decided to come down and do something about it. Gene had much better aim, but we still only managed to chase him higher up in the tree. He finally came down when I threw some scratch grains in the cleared area, and I was able to tuck everyone up safely for the night.

We weren’t really expecting this much snow so early on, so we spent part of the afternoon taking all the vegetable pots off the back deck so I could shovel, and unearthing the remaining hummingbird feeders. Next we’ve got to build the little warming area out of stray bales inside the barn for the goats, although I’m hoping we’ve got a little time before the temps plummet below zero. Cocoa and Mocha were thoroughly unimpressed by the snow, and only ventured out during the sun breaks. They also demanded extra hay to make up for the sudden lack of green grass.

The early onset of cold weather has also heralded my least favorite season of the year – Mouse Invasion. We’ve only caught a few in the basement so far, but I think that’s because they’re all hanging out in my car, now nicknamed the Vermin Wagon. (Heh, I can truthfully say I drive a VW!) I drove down to my parents the other day and Bess Bess was visiting at the same time. We were going to go grab a coffee (can’t do that around here!) and she visibly recoiled when she opened the passenger door, then wondered aloud why a stench that bad isn’t visible to the naked eye.

Ya, apparently that stupid Febreeze commercial is based in fact – “nose blind” is a thing. Sigh. I got independent confirmation from my friend Jennifer that yes, my car does indeed reek of mouse, and no, deploying an entire bottle of Febreeze inside it didn’t work. So now it’s stuffed with a full box of Bounce dryer sheets, both inside and under the hood, because the internet says mice hate that smell. And if the mice hate it, it’s my new favorite thing. As a result, the car now smells like a laundromat exploded – totally worth it. I figure I’ll know it worked if the mice don’t rebuild the nest I swept off the engine block. Shudder.

Hope you like squash!

Not going to lie… gardening in zone 3a has been a blow to my ego. Good thing my ego is massive, and can take the hit. But seriously… I know growing things here is possible, because my friend Jennifer’s garden is robust. Peppers, tomatoes, corn… hers grows. Ours, on the other hand, looks like the “before” picture for one of those Miracle Grow commercials where the take home message is anyone can grow stuff, even when your garden looks like this! [insert photo of ours]. Sigh. We’re basically pretending we never planted corn, and the only tomatoes I managed to get were cherry size, and had such thick skins they were displeasing to chew. Even the birds are leaving them alone, so you know they’re bad.

But there is a silver lining – I can grow squash! Gene helped me harvest it, all the while grumbling about where we’re supposed to store so many. Then he started saying things like, “Merry Christmas! Here’s a squash!” after I suggested we could clear out a space in his man cave. I also learned the hard way that cold weather apparently makes slugs gather on the bottom of squashes. Shudder.

The other veggie I managed to actually grow was a yellow type of zucchini. I’m sure it would have been absolutely delicious, if I’d picked it when you’re supposed to instead of waiting for it to magically turn into butternut squash. It got way too woody to eat, but the chickens love them so I’ve been stomping on one every afternoon.

I’ve also been dispensing peanuts every morning to the jay birds, a flock of which have moved back now that it’s getting cold again. There are also two gray jays hanging around, which are a slightly smaller, much more dignified variety. They have a very distinctive call, but I don’t get to hear it very often since they don’t sit in the trees and screech at me. They’re more into the “hang out and look starving” method of getting treats, which works out rather well for them as they now have two fully stocked suet cages to choose from.