Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Greenhouse Icicles

Our home has a heated greenhouse attached to it. The idea is brilliant but the execution was poor. We lose a LOT of household heat through the greenhouse. We can't just let it get real cold in there because it is also our bathroom and the pipes would freeze (not to mention how uncomfortable baths and showers would be).

I imagine the people who built it thought the sunlight would warm the bathroom in winter. If it were double-paned and somewhat sealed I think it might. As it is, it just pours heat out into the great state of West Virginia. When snow falls on the greenhouse, it melts, and makes fantastic icicles.

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Monday, March 01, 2010

Bird Netting and Snow

We have bird netting over the rabbit colony, to keep winged predators at bay. Some people think the netting will discourage raccoons and similar, but a raccoon will tear right through bird netting or even chicken wire. For them, we have electric scare wires. But for hawks and owls we have bird netting.

The first year we didn't have any problem with hawks and owls but the second year they all but decimated the colony in two or three nights. That's when we decided to put up bird netting. It worked beautifully.

After two or three years, the netting was getting old and tatty, all torn and fallen down in places. I kept thinking "I need to replace that netting..." but never quite got around to it. Then overnight I was down to four rabbits! When owls strike, they are effective. So I made a trip to the hardware store and got bird netting and put it up. Within a couple of weeks it snowed... and snowed... and snowed. And the bird netting fell down. I had strung it up on old clothes line that I ran up the middle of the colony from a gate post to a tree, and secured it to the fencing with regular old string. The weight of the snow was just too much.

This photo was taken in January. When the snow finally melted enough to dig the netting out, I re-hung it. It was down again within the week. It's been a trying winter in the rabbit colony. If/when we build another one I think we'll construct the "roof" of 2x4 or 4x4 welded wire on a wooden frame.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Snow pics

I haven't blogged recently because it seems like there's nothing to blog about. It's been snowing since mid-December. This is more snow than we had in our previous three winters in WV and more snow than I've ever seen in my life. We parked the ATV near the house and it seemed like a good idea at the time but now it just seems foolish. If the snow ever lets up we'll drive it over to the shed and park it under cover again.

The bridge that my husband built over the wet-weather creek. I'm not sure if it's a wet-weather creek or if we had amazing droughts our first two years here. The first year it flowed off and on. The second year it didn't flow much at all. Seems like it's been flowing most of the time this last year. Anyway the bridge is lovely and we use it all the time as we park on the other side of the creek from the house.

A close-up of the bridge railing showing how deep the snow was earlier. That's a 2x4 that the snow is piled upon.

I just thought this was a pretty cool picture. I'm easily amused (and amazed) by snow. My husband, a snow veteran, just laughs at me when I run around taking pics like this. He derives happiness from my enjoyment of the snow, even though he teases me about it. We have a lot of branches down in the yard now. Will be good for kindling next year.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Driving to Town

This past weekend, my husband and I had to go into town to get prescriptions filled. I took a few pics. This is the most snow I've seen since I've been here. We had more a couple of weeks ago but I was out of state visiting relatives.

Here's a beautiful scene snapped out the window on the way to town. This might become my desktop background, despite the fact that it's not too clear.

The creek is doing its best to freeze over nice and solid. I've never been ice skating on a pond or a stream. I would love to try it! Skating on a stream is especially attractive to me, because I'd get to see the area from a new vantage point.

Icicles!! There were much more impressive ones than these, but these were convenient and we were going slowly, so these got photographed.

After we arrived in town, the back of the truck looked like this. It's interesting how clearly the wind patterns show up in the drifted snow. Now I understand why, when I forget and leave my back window open on the highway in the summer time, all those leaves and/or hay blow out of the bed and into the cab!

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Snow chores - chickens

We've had a lot of snow recently (yay!) and the temperature has been below freezing for several days. A week? Two? I haven't really paid attention. But I do know that the chickens' and rabbits' water dishes are frozen every morning and evening when I go out to check on them and give them food and water. I took some photos this morning whilst going about my chores. It was that early blue twilight time of day.

I water the rabbits and the chickens with rubber pans that hold about 3 gallons of water. The rubber stays flexible even in extremely cold temperatures. I've not had any problems with them at temperatures of about -10F. I flip them upside down and stomp on them, hard, with my boots.

Most of the ice pops right out. Any that clings to the dish can be popped out by flexing the dish or by poking at it with a gloved hand.

I carry warm water out in old vinegar jugs. I used milk jugs at first but the vinegar jugs are more sturdy and last longer.

Yay! Fresh water! The chickens are hesitant to come out into the snow. They will, but they must first get their courage up :)

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Spring Snow

After almost a week of 70F degree weather, we had a couple of nights in the low to mid 30s with snow showers. It didn't stick around, of course, but it was sure pretty.

We've got days in the 50s and nights in the 30s for the next week, apparently. The asparagus is starting to sprout and it's time to get peas in the ground. I have seedlings in the greenhouse. There are two litters of kits romping around the rabbit colony. The world is full of promise.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

More Snow Pics

My poor laundry.

Rolf making his rounds and checking everything out while Louie looks on from the porch. This photo was taken in November before Louie died at the end of December. Rolf has always been a conscientious worker dog, helping feed the chickens and rabbits and generally getting underfoot no matter what you're doing and no matter what the weather. Louie was more of a supervisor during snowy weather. The ice and snow caked up in the long fur between his foot pads pretty quickly. He liked the snow, but only for quick runs and romps.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Weird Bush Thing in Snow

I've got some snow pics I'm going to post over the next couple of days or so. They were mostly (all?) taken in November when we got our first snow and I was real excited about it. I've calmed down some now, but I wouldn't mind another good snowfall in the slightest.

This weird bush thing caught my eye because it looked like a string of beads against the snow.

Closeup of weird bush thing. I'm sure the cats have gotten tons of these stuck in their fur by now.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Barn at Sunrise, in Snow

This was taken in December one morning while I was out feeding the rabbits and chickens. Usually when we get snow it's gray and cloudy. This sunrise was a nice surprise. You can see my poor garden never got properly put to bed for the winter. Ah, well... the old dead stuff will still be there waiting on me come spring.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Power Outage

We had a big storm come through here Wednesday the 11th. We lost power for three days, almost to the hour. It was pretty fun, actually, and very relaxing. It was very quiet and we could hear the coyotes on the hill with crystal clarity. Our place is pretty quiet, we don't have sirens or traffic or manufacturers near us. Still, losing power for an extended time does give one the opportunity to realize how much noise is created by the fridge, freezer, computer fans, well pump, and other daily power activities that happen in the background without our being conscious of them.

The easy stuff - we sat by the window and read a lot during the day, we got some stuff done around the place outside once the weather settled down, we lit candles as night fell, we ate canned soups, chili, and similar heated on the gas cooktop.

The manageable stuff - we ran the generator occasionally to keep the fridge and deep chest freezer cold, and during these times we filled water containers for the rabbits and chickens, for ourselves, and made coffee in the coffee maker. We filled the bathtub so we'd have water with which to flush.

The stuff that concerns us - the gas pressure here is poor and the gas fails when demands are placed on it. Our generator runs on natural gas but we only got 7 to 15 minutes out of it at a time before the gas would fail. In extremely cold weather we'd be unable to drip water to keep the pipes from freezing, even if we put out the pilot lights on the two heaters and the hot water tank.

We're re-committed to getting the solar panels up and the control panel in place, so we can run the freezer, fridge, and well pump off of solar. The batteries are in place and the rack is on the roof, so much of the work is done. We have the materials to do the rest. And so it goes.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Snowing at My House

It's snowing (again!) and it was just so pretty this morning that I had to make a quick little video of it. The above video was made from just outside my front door looking out across the yard.

This is also from the front porch, but looking into the north field.

I just LOVE snow. I think it's because I lived all my life in the south (until recently). Snow is always magical and exciting to me.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008


We were out exploring the other day, and we ran across this lizard. He looks much better if you click for a larger view.

He's missing part of his tail, which means he left it behind somewhere in a skirmish. He's probably alive today because he was able to run away while his attacker was distracted by the detached wriggling tail.

He's got some interesting coloration going on. At first glance he looked very plain, but he's worth a second look.

We didn't even notice his throat until we looked at the pics on the computer. Wow!


Thursday, September 18, 2008

'tater Turtle

I planted the potatoes in a new spot this year. The ground is clay-ey and VERY hard. My potatoes were very small as a result. Still, I went out to dig some. They would make good canned potatoes that I can toss into a pot roast later on. And look what I dug up, along with my baby 'taters. A baby box turtle :)

Look at that beautiful mug. Shy, to be sure - but also beautiful, in a turtley way.

And a profile, just for good measure. Click and view the large image if you want a better glimpse of the lovely textures on his (her?) shell.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008


What's that in the canopy of the tractor??

It's a bird nest, and it's been there since Spring 2007. This is its second year and I swear I think it's grown, so I think it got used again this Spring. I don't know how a bird can get into that nest, or how it likes having its home moved around. Spring is a busy time for a tractor.

This is a bit of my garden, one of the beds I haven't yet yanked the weeds out of and planted. I *should* have cleaned up last fall but I didn't and this is the result. Yuck! But look what's tucked into the cattle panel by the T-post (I use cattle panels as a trellis for my peas, cukes, and tomatoes).

It's a newly hatched baby house sparrow, with three eggs still to hatch. Needless to say, this garden bed will stay weedy a while longer - or at least this section will!

A cropped version of the above pic, that I didn't scale down. You can click on it to see a larger version. The little bird's leg is clearly showing and its head is in the shade. Before I ran to get the camera it was sitting up with its tiny mouth wide open, waiting for mama to bring it some food.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

More Snow Prints

I know these photos are very blue. They were taken at twilight and, well, it was blue!
I love seeing rabbit prints in the snow. We have quite a few wild rabbits around here, plus an escaped domestic "yard rabbit". To me, rabbit prints look like little rabbit faces with big ol' ears.

Frequently the front feet hit separately so the rabbit face is kind of messed up. But they're still very rabbity looking prints.

This rabbit went and hung out under the tractor for a while. Walking outside in the mornings and seeing all the goings-on from the night before is a bit like reading a book. You get to see little sub-plots unfolding all around.

This is a deer track. They have split hooves. The deer frequently cross the creek between the house and the chicken house, so I see them or their prints a lot in the mornings.


Thursday, February 21, 2008


Last night was a total lunar eclipse. Totality was around 10 p.m. so we didn't even have to stay awake late or get up at insane hours.

We thought we'd miss it, because yesterday was cloudy and snowy all day long. We gave up and watched a movie right after dinner. Then when we poked our heads outside after the movie, LO and behold, the skies had totally cleared and the beginnings of the eclipse were evident!

We dressed warmly and went outside with binoculars, telescope, and camera.

It was cold. 14F when we came in a little past 10. The battery in the camera gave out pretty quickly, but my clever and always prepared husband had a spare in his pocket. The second battery gave out just after totality, and so did we. Apparently batteries don't like extreme cold much more than people do.

Still, it was lovely being outside. We stood in the back yard and everything was brightly illuminated because of the full moon and all the snow. Then as the moon became eclipsed, more and more stars appeared, and the snow quit sparkling and became somber rather than festive.

My husband took photos with the telescope (it has an attachment for the camera). I stood there with my gloved hands making encouraging noises while his hands turned numb and his fingers fell off. We retrieved all but one, which we hope to find in the spring thaw if the dogs don't find it first.

After the eclipse reached totality and the second battery died, we went inside and thawed by the wood stove and sipped hot chocolate. Turns out that last finger was in my husband's coat pocket all along, so *that's* okay.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Prints in the Snow

I love going out in the morning with snow on the ground. I get to see who's been by during the night or pre-dawn hours. Most of our tracks are pretty tame. Take this determined path, for instance.

The straight line of prints was made by our neighbor's cat, Winston. He comes by regularly to check on the rabbits and chickens. He doesn't hurt them, our dogs don't hurt him, and it's nice to know he's on patrol, keeping things in order.

This odd arrow in the snow wasn't made during the pre-dawn hours.

It was made when I let the chickens out for the day. In the evening I'll have a regular chicken highway in the snow near the chicken house.


Thursday, December 13, 2007


Mother Nature is doing her best to make up for the drought we suffered this summer. We've had rain, snow, and lots more rain. We awakened to a downpour which, on our metal roof, filled our ears and chests with vibration.

These attractive overflow pipes (NOT sewer pipes!!) grace our yard. They carry excess rain water under the old logging road so the logging road doesn't wash out. We use that road to get to part of our property where we, appropriately enough, collect firewood.

The bottom pipe gets some action when it rains but the upper pipe is usually dry, partially because it's higher up and partially because until recently it was clogged with mud and debris. My delightful husband undertook the task of cleaning out the pipe and boy, are we both glad he did!

As you can see, steady rain has been enough to cause water to overflow the logging road, despite the two drainage pipes. Bummer.

While we were on the porch taking pictures, a new waterfall developed! Spectacular... and a bit unnerving. You can see it to the left of the drain pipes, just pouring off the logging road.

After our yard flooded our first year here, my husband got the tractor and dug the creek out with the backhoe. Now our yard doesn't flood (touch wood). We still have some work to do by the chicken house and the garden, but those areas weren't threatened by the creek as much as our home was, so we haven't done anything with them. We are firm believers in "just in time" (or "almost too late") methods.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Snow Apples

Here are a couple more photos from our recent snow. The apples on the apple tree had snow piled on them so high I don't think they could have held one more flake. We didn't pick the apples this year because they were awfully small due to the drought.

Here's a shot showing several "snow apples" hanging on the tree.

Today it's raining and we're expecting 50F. Yesterday it got up to 60F! This is December?!


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Icicle Sculpture

We got lots of snow yesterday, probably five or six inches, and some of it melted and ran down and made icicles.

One of the horizontal bars of ice from which the icicles were hanging broke loose and one side of the ice bar dropped but the bar of ice did not fall. This made the icicles tilt crazily. Over time, more vertical icicles formed and the result is an odd formation of icicles.



Tuesday, December 04, 2007

First Snow

We got our first snow, a dusting, yesterday and last night. It's melting about as quickly as it accumulates, but it's still peaceful and beautiful. I LOVE a new snow. It makes the world so clean and fresh. A new snow is full of promise.

This is our third winter here (can that be possible?!) and I still catch myself just gazing out the window whenever it snows. I wonder will my southern self ever consider snow as commonplace as rain.

A pair of gloves lies on a table on the porch, reminiscent of a sunny work day when a distraction called us away from a task.

The snows were preceded by LOTS of rains and some heavy winds. Our creek finally has water in it again, after seven months of being dry. This is a Very Big Deal because our water supply is a shallow (25 ft) hand dug well. The creek level is indicative of how well our household water supply is doing.

We're snug indoors with a fire in the wood stove and lots of coffee in the coffee pot. It's a good day.


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