prepping for winter

The big freeze

I know that you have heard quite a bit about the recent winter weather that rolled across our nation this weekend. We saw what was going on out West. We heard dire reports from our local weather persons. We diligently prepared for the worst…bought more fuel oil for the furnace, Jordan created a way to run the furnace off of our generator, he also got the generator ready for action, we made coffee ahead of time in case we lost power, we stockpiled water for drinking and toilet flushing, we precooked food to have at the ready, lanterns and oil lamps were gathered along with matches and flashlights….basically…we got ready for ice, snow, sleet and the usual power outage that accompanies such tough, cold weather.

And then….it didn’t really happen. We had rain. We had freezing rain. We had ice. It was definitely cold. But – it wasn’t as bad as forecasted. And – for the first time during such an event, we didn’t lose power. What a nice change! We ate well. We stayed warm. We were able to complete a couple projects in comfort.

Wild. So to those who DID get the brunt of the storm, we can empathize and hope you hang tough.

Still (and I know you have seen oodles of images and such about the weather folks have experienced) it is hard not to find the beauty of the crystalline world that results from a good cold front….

View from the point - Peak's Knob covered in clouds and all the trees are coated in crystals

View from the point – Peak’s Knob covered in clouds and all the trees are coated in crystals

Melting ice

Melting ice

Barbed wire ice

Barbed wire ice

The winter garden - frozen row covers luckily with no wind

The winter garden – frozen row covers luckily with no wind

Prepping for winter

Well, we took stock this weekend, and I am happy to report that, despite a good many of our row covers being mangled while we were away, the row covers managed to do their job by protecting our crops from the first killing frost. Only a little damage was found on the broccoli plants, and I was surprised to see the artichokes still going strong (we harvested a few more heads on Sunday). Anyway, a good chunk of time was spent this weekend re-doing row covers, mulching, and prepping for winter. Phew.

My helper

My helper

FloJo was amazingly helpful….she single-handedly kept the wind from stealing my row covers! I am SURE that was her intent…certainly it wasn’t to make a nest and take a nap. Naw. No way.

We have big plans for this winter…..as always, it will be a challenge to make it all happen, but we are going to try. In the wish-list stage for the garden are the following items:

  • find a source of leaves….I am still hoping beyond hope that a landscaping group I was in touch with over the summer will come through and provide us with oodles of leaf litter so that we can mulch the heck outta our garden and return some organic matter back to the soil
  • learn how to use the pipe benders we bought to construct some low/high tunnels….I need a seed starting area at a minimum so that I better manage my seedlings/transplants
  • finish mapping our contours…..we’d like to start planning our orchard and berry plantings
  • setup our processing area…..this requires some reconfiguration of our garage structure. Boy, are we lucky to have that garage! It will be a nice asset to the garden.

I won’t bore you with the other day dreams (like having chickens, dairy cow(s), a cold room, a separate kitchen for value added product processing, so on and so on). And I definitely won’t bring up the list of things we want and need to do to the house. Phew doggie. There are so many thoughts and  ideas that rattle around our brains that it can get beyond ridiculous. BUT – that is part of the fun and the adventure.

In the meantime, I am planning on using the information I learned from a recent class combined with the data from our first market season to refine our crop plan(s), production budget, and basically improve our happenings. Seems like a good time to begin working on this aspect given the fact that it is black as midnight by 7 pm. Jeez, I feel old.

I’ll keep you updated on how the crop plan develops….this part is fun. Who doesn’t like looking at all the beautiful, vibrant, fertile seed catalogs in anticipation of future possibilities?

King of the hay

King of the hay

I was slow on the take for the hay bales….just before Franklin took the mountain, little FloJo was first to conquer it. Who knew the stubby legged monster could jump that high? Seeing her up there, big as you please, was a crazy cute picture that was missed. 😦

Morning jaunt

Morning jaunt

These two are such good farm dogs. They show such pure joy at being there, at being able to run (and hunt…poor little mice and voles don’t stand a chance against these two) and romp. Despite being incredibly embarrassed about having to wear their jackets, they soon transformed from miserable, shivering sad hounds to poised and ready to rumble. I love their look of focus.