Thursday, January 24, 2013

Fog & Hoar Frost

Its been a bit chilly around here of late, and we've had a bit of a temperature inversion as well. So we've had some serious valley fog, which has made for some really impressive hoar frost days when the fog clears enough to see around. I love the trees when they look all crystal-y!

When the sun comes out from the fog, the trees start to warm up, and the hoar frost crystals fall down like snow, although they are far more sparkly. Beautiful!

At lower elevations, on the way out of our little side valley & nearing the main valley, there have been some spots where the shrubs and fences are just laden down with hoar frost crystals - we're talking an inch or more thick of crystals coating branches & wire. Some spots on the trees there the hoar frost is so thick it looks like clumps of snow weighing down the branches!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Balancing gardening & pregnancy

I'm just itching to start planning this summer's garden. I can't wait to look through my seed bins and see what is left over from past years & will still be usable, what seed was saved from last summer's garden, and what seed I will need to buy. I've got a tentative list floating around my head of what I want to change from last year's garden, and a couple of new plants I want to try growing.

The problem is, this here baby, just starting to be kicking up a storm in my belly, is due in mid-June. Now most of my more tender plants get planted out in the first week or two of June most years, depending on the weather. So regardless of whether this baby is early or late, I don't know how much gardening I'll be getting done about that time of the season this year...

I've told myself that one year of not having a huge garden is perfectly acceptable, and I know that with a newborn I won't have a lot of time to be keeping up on weeds, but I'm just still not sure what level of gardening I want to aim for this summer... There are some things that it seems like a no-brainer to grow based on planting time (for example to not-so-tender crops & the crops I just sow as seeds), however some of those crops need a fair amount of weeding throughout the season to grow optimally (onions anyone?!).

So in the meantime I'm trying to put off even looking at my seeds, much less making a list of plants to grow or putting a garden plot plan down on paper until it is a little closer to go time when I need to decide whether I'll start onion seeds or how many I'll start... Since last year we had an amazing onion crop, and I started my onion seeds sometime in March, I've been trying to put off thinking of gardening until February at the earliest. Maybe even mid-February. I figure as long as I've decided on at least the onions by planting time in early March, I should be ok. And really, I've grown onions from seed planted once the ground was workable in the spring too. Not huge onions, not a bumper crop like this past year, but a crop nonetheless. So we'll see. And in the meantime I'll try not to fall asleep thinking about the garden... :)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Little M's first snowshoe

For Christmas we gave Little M her first pair of snowshoes. They are basically purple in color, her favorite color these days, and she just loves them! It took us several weeks to have a daylight moment to go outside and help her take her first steps around the driveway in them, but this past weekend we finally had the right combination of circumstances & were able to get out just at dusk for a quick trip around the house, out to the mailbox, and down in the yard a bit.

At first, I walked behind her to keep her upright, as it took her a little time to get the hang of having to not step on the other snowshoe then try to lift it. Once she figured it out better, all three of us walked hand-in-hand which helped her keep upright, but by the end she was going off on her own, stumbling occasionally still, but she didn't have any real falls! We even got her up on the actual snowpack for the second half of our walk (the first half we just walked on the cleared path and up the driveway to get her used to walking with extra large feet!).

She did really great, and I'm excited for snowshoeing with her in years to come! I've been snowshoeing since I was a little kid, as well as cross country skiing, but snowshoeing was always my favorite. I could go off trail and wander through the woods following whatever animal track I felt like, which was always quite appealing to me.

I'm so glad we got her these snowshoes this year, as she is getting much heavier to carry, especially now that I'm pregnant. The last couple years we just put her in the Ergo pack on my back, or the frame backpack on my husband's back when we went out hiking in the winter, but now that she has her own snowshoes she'll be able to walk around herself for at least part of our hikes!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

On emergencies, luckily not of the financial kind!

Well I've got a couple of posts swirling around in the back of my mind waiting to be written, or half written, or with photos waiting for text to go along with them, but it has been a bit of a whirlwind start to 2013!

That kind of happens when a car engine emergency drains your emergency fund down to within a few dollars of empty, and then as soon as you pull the extra out of your normal 'extra-to-principle' mortgage payment to get the emergency fund back up to a thousand bucks your debit credit card number gets stolen and used to rack up charges totaling almost a thousand dollars....

Now, we've got our fingers crossed that the fraudulent charges will be returned to us, and after talking to the bank it looks like that will happen without any issues, and really, because we had a large enough emergency fund to cover first the car engine, and then to cover these fraudulent charges if need be, neither of them are financial emergencies, which we are so, so grateful for. We didn't need to dip into the sinking funds we keep for other good things, like upcoming childbirth costs or vehicle insurance, to pay for these emergencies.

But boy, what good reminders to have an emergency fund! Also a good reminder to keep tabs on our account. And perhaps a hint to get identity theft insurance... And perhaps also a nudge to be better about not keeping too much money in our daily account and manage the daily account vs. savings account a bit more in-depth so as to keep the daily account as low as can be to keep the rest of our money safer in the savings account...

Sigh... Lessons learned folks, lessons learned! :)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

First egg of the new year

Back in November sometime the chickens all started molting for the first time, at about 1.5 years old. Now I'm fairly sure they had molted previously in turns, but never before had they all gone through a period where they were definitely all shedding feathers & really not laying. Then with the failing light and cold temps, they stopped laying altogether. It was a sad time.

Actually, it was even sadder because around Christmas time, when we got our pork back from the butcher, and as I started really having a huge appetite as the baby decided that food was a good thing - give me lots - now, we started eating serious breakfasts again. Eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns. Yummy. But not with our own eggs! Sad to be supplying the bacon & sausage from the home-grown pig, the hash browns from the home-grown potatoes, but not the eggs due to our winter chickens!
The chicken coop shortly before Christmas. Note the top netting tore and fell down under the weight of the snow! That will take some sewing to fix come spring I'm sure! Oh, and don't mind those 2 dogs tearing across towards the coop, with the deep snow they get their exercise where they can!

Well sometime around New Years I had enough with the lack of eggs and decided that we needed to supplement their light situation. So I ran a couple extension cords over, wrapped an indoor timer in a plastic bag (we do have an outdoor one but I wasn't able to locate it... not quite sure where it has gotten itself to), and I dusted off the old heat lamp we had in the coop from when the chickens were little chicks. I added about an hour or two before daylight and an hour or two after dusk, in the hopes that that additional light would convince them we were coming out of winter and into spring.

Sure enough, yesterday my husband found a (frozen) egg in one of the nest boxes! YAY! I'm now pretty curious as to which of our hardy breeds is the one laying first, but will have to wait until the weekend to sneak over there repeatedly and try and figure it out. In the meantime, hopefully whoever it is keeps it up and we start getting some eggs to eat! Not only do I hate to buy the store-bought ones when we're feeding our own laying hens at home, but they just aren't anywhere near as good (and fresh!) as ours are!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Woodworking in the chillyness

Brrr.... it is cold woodworking in an unheated garage in below-freezing temperatures! Little M's play kitchen is temporarily on pause because I managed to install the middle foot a little lower than I should have (something about screw heads snapping off got me a little frustrated and not quite as focused on my assembly sketches as I should have...), so I need to recut the middle divider between the cabinet half and the stove half... and I've been putting off doing that because it has been freezing here lately!

The first day I powered through the cold temps, but since then, I know what cold is, and don't wanna go back there! (Also it could be due to the fact that the mister just changed from dayshift to swing shift, on different days, which meant that he worked every day but one this past week, and for the first time in over 6 months is working through our supper and bedtime & sleeping well through our wake-up time, which means a total shift in how Little M and I operate around the house!) However I'm hopeful that either this afternoon before supper or tomorrow afternoon while Little M is napping I can get that last piece cut and at least have her play kitchen all assembled for her birthday morning, even if it isn't all painted yet. (And I'm glad that we've been through this adjustment period of shift-changes many times before and so although it never gets easier adjusting to change, by now I at least know that we need to give each other time and grace to allow us to adjust, and I know that the new schedule will get easier with time!) Play kitchen pictures to come!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The chilly view into 2013

What the new year looked like out our window this morning, complete with bright blue skies, a pretty setting moon, and...

... a chilly 1.7 degrees F (that's -17 degrees C)! Brrr! Luckily the mister had brought in plenty of firewood and kindling for me to get the fire started, because with those kinds of outside temps, even the inside of the house was pretty chilly!
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