Saturday, January 23, 2016

"Snow Has Fallen, Snow On Snow"

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. 


  1. So cold! Poor birds, but can't blame the cats, it's just there nature. Boys and their toys out playing in the snow. Stay warm.

    1. Janet; I would so like to feed the birds--they have seemed sluggish with the cold. The cats surely aren't going hungry--so it is indeed their inherent nature inspiring them to pounce.

  2. It's so beautiful. Just like a Currier and Ives illustration. The good thing about living where you do is that the snow won't last long. Been a very mild winter here.

    I wouldn't worry about the birds too much. They'll learn to go elsewhere. Can't fight nature when it comes to animals.

    Have a cozy week!

    1. Jane; Snow is so pretty before it gets tracked up or plowed. Pretty--but not good for getting around!

  3. I've seen feeders here you can "stick" on the window (with rubber suckers) - perhaps you could feed them from an upstairs window? Sadly, I have noted several bird corpses and mouthfuls of tail-feathers spat out around the place, so the birds here are not safe either. However, as long as they don't linger on the ground too long at least they won't starve to death.

    Your snow looks gorgeous but I bet the house is cold when you are away from the fire. Glad that the vehicle in the ditch was just a distraction and not a destruction.

    1. Jennie; I haven't seen the 'stick on' feeders. that might be an option, though I can imagine the boy cats lining up on a windowsill and making gruesome faces at the birds.
      The house has stayed quite warm--we have good quality firewood and Jim stuffs the stove well at night.

  4. Brrr, all of that snow this girl would NOT be able to handle.

    Sorry about the birds.

    Have a good week ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainey; Our son in Florida complained of the cold there over the eeekend--after all his years in Wyoming where he had to plow out the lane morning and evening. I am content that in retirement I don't have to get into a cold car and drive anywhere

  5. Snow is a mixed blessing, beautiful to look at but difficult to live with. I am sure the birds will move on to better feeding stations.

    1. Thelma; We had so little snow during the first winters in Kentucky--this storm and the one in February last year really take us back in time.

  6. I have said before, it is like another world, to us townies, living in the fairly mild South west of England. I have enjoyed seeing all that snow from the comfort and safety of my warm home. I love the way you sketch the scene of hunkering down to ride out the storm.

    1. Kath; I am realizing that the landscape and climate of England may be rather different than I have imagined. 'Cold' there may be more about damp and wind than where I have lived. We are blessed that with the wood stove we could ride out most any storm. The pantry is well-stocked, we can cook on the wood range if the power should go out, pretend to be pioneers!

  7. So much enjoyment, reading your post. We have had as very mild January. The snow has all melted and I have tulips and daffodils pushing their way through in the side garden. The hellebores bloomed beneath the snow, hugging the ground, but now they are standing straight and looking very lovely. I saw one lone violet as I peered and poked under composted leaves.

    1. Hildred; Your mention of hellebores has set me to reading about their growing needs. I have long wanted to plant some but always thought they were delicate and fussy. Some of the perennials which I grew in Vermont don't flourish here, not being able to withstand the heat and humidity of summer. I've not been able to grow Lady's mantle or delphimium. Violets self-sow and flourish invasively.

  8. Your snow looks beautiful , but it does bring extra work and some hazards when you are out in the country.

    I do feed the birds as only one of our cats regularly goes out and she mostly hunts for rodents. Sadly she brought in a robin yesterday and was not my favourite cat! Today she is warm inside while a storm rages and the trees whip across the sky.

    1. DW; I have noted that when one of our cats kills a bird it is too often one of the prettier ones--a robin or a bluebird--I almost wouldn't mind if starlings were the victims.
      The snow has definitely brought more work for Jim--although I sometimes suspect he enjoys pitting his machinery against the elements!