This was the view from the front porch on Friday as the predicted storm moved in.
Jim had been out already with the tractor and box blade. He doesn't have a front-mount plow--not something normally required in Kentucky.
The concrete slabs which form the covered porches on both upper and lower entries have a very smooth finish. They become perilously slippery when covered with a dusting of snow or blown-in rain.
Jim has kept the blown snow swept away during the storm and laid strips of old carpet as walkways.
Wet snow packs into the treads on the bottoms of our shoes or boots increasing the tendency to go into a skid.
Ice and snow cling to the seed pods that escaped my pruning of the hibiscus at the edge of the porch.
Wind-shredded clouds moved across the sky, blotting out the sun for much of Friday.
Bobby has been tooling about in the snow. He was headed inside when a flutter of movement in some branches at the edge of the woodpile caught his attention.
I investigated and discovered a hapless sparrow chittering and dithering under the sticks. I snatched up Bobby and bore him away while the small bird hopped aimlessly off the porch and blundered along the side of the 'washroom' annex.
I wish that I could in good conscience feed the birds during the winter months.
At the Gradyville farm I put out feeders during our first two winters and we enjoyed watching cardinals, juncos, sparrows and chickadees, even a few bluebirds and purple finches zooming in for a meal.
The cats watched the birds from inside, whiskery faces pressed against the sliding glass doors.
By the second winter Willis and the tortie sisters, Sadie and Sally, were menacing the birds.
With regret I decided not to put out the feeders during our last winter there.
We now have 5 cats who are regularly outside and the 'boy cats' who have outdoor privileges.
They stalk birds.
In the above photo, taken on my way into the house today after hours outside, Charlie is intent on the group of juncos picking at the recently uncovered gravel.
Willis joins Charlie.
I shooed them away from the birds.
It seems that I do this whenever I am outside.
From the kitchen window I see Sadie or Sally creeping up on a bird and rap on the glass to distract the marauding cat of the moment.
The problem, of course, is not one with a ready solution.
Coming in by the basement door a few minutes after witnessing the above, I found a freshly killed bird on the door mat.
This is the second casualty in a week.
A group of birds busily pecking at something on the ground seem blissfully unaware of the presence of a cat, one of their most common enemies.
It snowed most of Friday night leaving our world covered in drifts of pristine snow.
Snow had drifted over the lane nearly obscuring the effects of Jim's plowing.
I layered myself in warm clothes and hauled on my lined overalls.
The overalls have a full front zipper, side zips from hips to ankles for easy on and off over boots. The lining is quilted. There are various pockets including one on each side with zips that allow one to reach into jean pockets beneath.
By the time I have bundled myself in this 'snow suit' I feel immense, clumsy, waddling--but warm. The zipped down legs keep snow out of my boots.
I wanted photos of the snow cover before Jim began plowing again.
You can see the track I left behind me as I blundered along the snowy lane.
It wasn't til I looked back that I realized I wasn't walking in a straight line.
This was due in part to inattention as I was focused on photo ops--also yesterday's snow had frozen beneath the fresh snow cover creating uneven footing.
Weeds along the fence have caught the snow.
The stark lines of the wire as background for the bent and twisted stems suggest pen and ink drawings or a design for crewel stitchery.
Jim phoned our friends along the road to see if they needed plowing out and learned that another neighbor had attempted their steep drive with his tractor. Coming back down the hill the tractor slid off the narrow road and into the ditch.
Jim brushed snow off old 'Snort'n Nort'n, the venerable Dodge, put him in 4 wheel drive and lumbered up the road--ostensibly to see if he could help pull out the stuck tractor.
He was back shortly to report that two more large tractors had come to the rescue.
Our private lane leads off a dead-end spur road, understandably not one of the first to be plowed when there is a storm.
The entrepreneurial fellow who plants and harvests area cornfields keeps his machinery at a formerly Amish farm almost directly across from us as the crow might fly. His brother-in-law [according to Jim] undertook to plow open a one-lane track through the snow.
As long as no one is hurt, no machinery wrecked, I suspect that the men of the neighborhood relish the mild excitement of hauling someone out of the ditch!
A hastily contrived hot meal an hour past noon, then back outside, Jim to continue plowing, wanting to clear the drive into the lower house prior to the freezing cold forecast for Saturday night.
I blundered in and out, winding down, coming in to load and critique more photos, shove wood into the stove, serve the cats their 'tea.'
I was surprised to note that the afternoon had gone.
Dusk was falling outside our house, but as usual there was yet a golden wash of light below--the sun making a last reappearance before dusk and the rising of the full moon.
Jim plodded down to check temps at the lower house--unoccupied this weekend, and the man meant to provide the last part for the electric furnace hasn't done so.
The huge orb of the moon was casting pale shadows on the piled snow by the time he returned.
I decided that cinnamon rolls would be a fitting treat to bolster us for the cold night ahead.
They came from the oven, light, sticky with butter and brown sugar, redolent of cinnamon.
And now--at a few minutes before 11 P.M. the outside thermometer is registering 8 degrees above zero F.
Jim has gone to bed.
The cats are quiet. Charlie-cat has chosen to stay inside this cold night.
I have heaped hay in a manger in the small stable, covered it with old towels to make a refuge for the outside cats.
Often on a cold morning I find them tucked up on the wicker loveseat on the porch.
Outside bright moonlight etches the trunks and branches of the trees in sharp relief against the white of deep snow.
We have done all that seems possible to keep the houses safe, the animals fortified against the cold.
I have rummaged out my warmest nightgown.
From my pillow I will be able to see the glow of the moon, the shadowy bare tips of the trees that march up the ridge.