Tag Archives: winter

A Winter Blast

Our progress towards spring suffered a setback last night, as we awoke to around 8-9 inches of fresh snow.  School was canceled and we once again face the task of clearing and piling snow. Ugh! snow1 As discouraging as it is to see, with temperatures forecasted to reach into the 50’s and 60’s next week, we know this scene is only temporary.snow2 I decided to step out on to the porch this afternoon to capture a few pictures of the white stuff.  One of the things I enjoy about blogging, and one of the primary reasons I do it, is that it allows me to document events like this from year to year.  I always find it interesting to look back at pictures from earlier years to see evidence of late snowfalls and later proof that spring and summer eventually do arrive.  Last year, we received a big snow fall on April 18th.  A week later I posted and shared pictures of the dramatic changes that can occur in Minnesota during the spring time over a short period.  (See the post here).


Below is a shot from our porch towards the river.  Grudgingly, I must admit that it is a pretty sight today.

snow3Nonetheless, I am hoping that it looks very different by next week.  I am SO ready for winter to move along so that I can get outside and into my gardens.  Spring cannot come soon enough!

I hope spring has arrived in your neck of the woods!








Filed under Miscellaneous, Outbuildings

Snowy Sunrise

We received another 10 inches or so of snow yesterday through this morning.  The wind is howling and the snow is drifting quickly.  School was canceled, yet again.  I was unsuccessful in making it out of our driveway this morning for work and got stuck in a three-foot snow drift.  There really is no point in complaining about the long winter any more though.  It is old news.

So, since I cannot think of anything very positive to say about Minnesota, our winters, the weather, etc., I thought I would just post this picture I took this morning.  I took it with my iPhone 5s and did a quick edit in Instagram.


Hope you are staying warm and out of the howling winds.  Spring will come eventually, right?


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Filed under Barn, Daily life, Outbuildings

A Blustery Day

I think we can all agree that it has been quite a winter, no matter where you live.  The days with snow and subzero temperatures have been too many to count for us here in Minnesota.

Today is just another one of those days.  The wind is absolutely howling out there at around 30 mph. With temps around 5-7°F, those high winds are creating wind chills of around -16°F on this bright and sunny day.
DSC_0001Jesse has spent a lot of hours clearing snow around the farm this winter.  He is outside now trying to clear the snow and break through the drifts, knowing he will need to do it again later this evening again because of the blowing.

DSC_0002Like so many days so far this winter, we are in a wind chill warning through Tuesday. Temperatures are expected to plunge further below zero and we can look forward to wind chills of -35° F to -45° F tomorrow.  Brrrrr!!!!

We just received the robo-call from the school district that all classes and activities are canceled for tomorrow…again!! We have had 3 days of school canceled because of frigid temperatures so far this month.  Our youngest (and the only chick left in the nest) celebrates every time we get word of another cancellation, but I doubt he will think it is so great in April when he is making up the days over the scheduled spring break. 🙂


Since I am not outside doing this…


I have managed to entertain myself indoors by starting to dream of spring.  We are going to refresh our flock of laying hens this spring and have also decided to order some chicks to raise for eating again. So, I have been paging through this catalog… (Murray McMurray Hatchery).


After much deliberation, I ordered 12 baby chicks of 7 different varieties for our new laying hens and 25 chicks for meat birds.

Thinking about and planning for spring makes the long cold winters a bit more tolerable, don’t you think?


Another way of coping with blustery winter days is to find a sunny spot inside and curl up on a cozy blanket, bathing yourself in sunshine.


Wherever you are, I hope you are staying warm and finding your own ways to cope with this crazy winter!


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Filed under Daily life

Winter Days

As winter plods along, I find myself gazing out at our screen porch often.  It is such a lovely space to enjoy the outdoors in the spring, summer and fall.  We frequently eat meals out here, enjoy our morning coffee, and curl up on the couch after dark to listen to the crazy sounds of the wildlife along the river.

Even in the doldrums of winter, this space is inviting when the sun is shining.

DSC_0009As a good Minnesotan, I can’t resist commenting on our weather…that is just what we do.  While the east coast is expecting a “historic” storm and the national media is all abuzz, we are expecting anywhere from 9-15 inches of snow here on Sunday…just another wintery Minnesota day.

For now, I will have to be content with admiring our screen porch from indoors.



Filed under Daily life

A Winter Walk

Over winter break, I took my camera along on a walk we took down behind our house.  We own some acreage down in the river bottom that we rarely have the opportunity to explore.  In the spring, the river is usually flooded for several weeks, or even months, and the land is inaccessible.  Once the temperatures warm up, the mosquitoes hatch and it becomes unbearable to venture down there.  If we have a dry fall, we usually enjoy some walks before hunting season begins.  Once the snow falls – at least during a normal winter – it once again becomes difficult to enjoy a walk because of the deep snow.

We are not having a “normal” winter though, so the land is still accessible and we are trying to take advantage of it.

Despite the flood waters that come every spring, we have some enormous old trees among all the smaller saplings and brush.  This one looks like it may not be standing too much longer.

We came across the monster tree below, as well.  I cannot imagine how many years it has stood there, and all the spring floods it has seen come and go.

Taking a closer look, you can see a small area of daylight through the trunk of this tree.  I wonder how long it will take for the critters and the weather to chisel away at the heart of the tree until it finally succumbs to gravity.

Sofie, our Golden Retriever, is always beyond excited when we head towards the river bottom.  There are so many things to explore.  She was particularly excited about this hollowed out log.  Fearful of the possibility that a skunk could be residing within, we quickly encouraged her to move along.

Our goofy cat, Nina, also followed us on our walk.  She seemed annoyed the entire time and was meowing loudly as she trotted behind us.  She eventually gave up on us and turned around.  We met up with her again when we reached the house porch.

The warm temperatures of December have left the river open in most areas.  The open water certainly must make life easier for the wildlife that roams the river bottom.

Since we took this walk a few weeks ago, all the snow has melted.  We need to get back down there soon to enjoy the peace and tranquility while we can.


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Filed under Daily life

Waiting for Winter

The weather has treated us pretty well here in Minnesota during the month of November and into early December.  No significant snow has fallen in our neck of the woods and while the temperatures have been cold at times, they have been tolerable by Minnesota standards.  With Christmas only a few weeks away, we are now anxiously waiting for winter to arrive.

In preparation for winter, we have the farm all buttoned up and ready for the snow.

The vegetable garden is tilled and ready for spring planting.

We are going to attempt to winter our bees again this year.  The hives have their black cardboard covers on to help absorb some of those rays from the sun.  We have failed the last two years and have hopefully learned a few things along the way.  We are hoping they make it to spring!

Each fall we put white plastic protectors on the young trees that line our driveway.  Our main reason for doing so is to protect the tender bark from the deer that like to rub their antlers on them in the fall.

Although we have managed to deter the deer from our trees, this year they targeted my little lilac bushes that I planted two years ago.

The deer systematically went down the row and stripped the bark and in many cases, broke off the lilac.  They spared a few of the plants, but most will need replacing in the spring.

We have talked about putting up a flag pole for several years, but just never get around to doing it.  With our oldest leaving for West Point at the end of June, we decided to finally tackle this project before the ground froze.  Knowing that we would be putting up a flag pole, we picked up a West Point flag on our trip out to visit in August.  We realize that we are not entirely following proper flag etiquette by not having the U.S. flag larger, but we do it anyhow, justifying it to ourselves because our intentions are good.

We located the flag pole so that we can easily look out the kitchen window and  see the flags flapping in the wind.

My perennial gardens have also been trimmed up and put to sleep for winter.

The wood pile behind the house has been replenished and is ready to supply our fireplace all winter long.  There is nothing quite like a roaring wood fire on a subzero day in Minnesota to warm your home and heart.

And with everything ready for winter around here, now all we can do is just wait.  For those of you who need to prepare for winter in your part of the country, I wish you good luck!



Filed under Daily life

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Winter

The temperatures have plummeted here in Minnesota and we had our first snow storm a week or so ago.  The majority of that snow has melted, but enough remains on the ground that it is hard to ignore the fact that winter has arrived.

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Filed under Daily life

Winter Sowing Update

It was months ago that I decided to attempt starting perennial seeds by using a winter sowing method that I had read about in my Northern Gardener magazine.  I posted (here) about getting everything set up and flower seeds planted in these plastic milk jugs in the dead of winter.

Over the next few months, I set the milk jugs out in the snow and let nature take its course.  As things started to warm up in the spring, I opened the jugs up during the day to allow the germination process to start, triggered by the moisture and warm rays of sunshine.  The seeds eventually started to sprout and I had lots of little seedlings.

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Filed under Flower, Gardens

Sowing Seeds Outdoors in Winter

I came across an article entitled “It’s Sow Easy” in my Northern Gardener magazine last winter about sowing seeds outdoors in winter.  Because I’m always looking for inexpensive ways to increase my perennial collection, I thought I would give this method a try.  The theory is to turn recyclables into mini-greenhouses to place outside during the winter months to wait for the spring thaw and germination of the seeds.  Seems easy enough and it has the added bonus of using recyclable materials.  We’ll see how it goes.

After purchasing potting soil, seed starter mix, seeds, and saving up some gallon milk jugs, I was ready to get the process started.

The first step is to cut the milk jugs in half with a sharp utility knife and poke several slits in the bottom for drainage.

Using a mixture of equal parts seed starter mix and potting soil, I put 3-4 inches of dirt in each container.

Here are all the mini-greenhouses waiting for seeds.

The soil needs to be well-moistened, a “muddy consistency” according to the article.  I checked each container to make sure that the water was draining out the bottom.

Not surprisingly, I purchased way more seeds than I had room for in containers.  I could hardly control myself at the nursery at all the seed choices of plants that I want to grow or multiply in my garden.

I decided to plant Delphinium, Oriental Poppy, Shasta Daisy and Foxglove with my first set of mini-greenhouses.  After sowing the seeds according to the package directions, use clear duct tape to attach the top and bottom back together.

Set the mini-greenhouses out in the snow somewhere that gets plenty of sunlight, snow and rain.  According to the article, I can just put my feet up now and let Mother Nature take over until spring, when the seedling appear and more holes will need to be added so that the plants don’t get overheated in the greenhouse.  I’ll be amazed and thrilled if this process actually works.  And if it does, I’ll start planning huge new perennial gardens and saving milk jugs much further in advance!  Stay tuned.


Filed under Flower, Gardens

The Bees are Dead!

It was our understanding as beginning beekeepers that it was possible to winter our hive here in Minnesota so long as we took steps to help them through the harsh season.  The first task was to provide the bees with sugar syrup (since we harvested most of their honey) for them to cure for their winter food store.  We prepared the sugar syrup (a 2:1 ration of sugar to water) and put it into a feeder in the hive.  It was still warm enough that the bees were active and they went to work curing the syrup.

As the cold weather set in, Jesse continued to prepare the hive by building an insulated hive cover to help keep the bees warm and block chilling winds.

Around the beginning or middle of December when Jesse checked on the bees, they were still alive and thriving in the winter cluster.  According to our go-to beekeeping information source,“The Beekeeper’s Handbook” by Diana Sammataro and Alphonse Avitabile, bees form a winter cluster in the late fall and winter that expands and contracts as the outside temperatures rise and fall.  The bees remain active in the cluster and continue about their business.  However, their activity continues to produce water vapors, which must be allowed to escape the hive. 

After the extreme cold snap of weather that we experienced over the holidays, Jesse went to check once again on the bees.  The scene was quite different this  time when he removed the hive cover.  Silence.  No bees.  No activity.  Nothing.

With our limited knowledge and experience, we have concluded that the bees did not have adequate ventilation and that too much moisture built up inside the hive.  Another possibile reason for the loss of the bees is those extreme holiday temperatures.  In any event, despite our best efforts, we failed our bees. 

We went out to the hive yesterday to take a closer look.  After taking off the cover and lifting off the boxes, we saw the carnage.

All of our wonderful, hard-working bees…dead.

So we end of our first year as beekeepers with feelings of mixed success.  We managed to make it through the summer and fall with no failures in the hive or diseases.  Most importantly, we enjoyed a moderately successful honey harvest for our first year.  After these successes, the loss of the honeybees this winter is quite disappointing. 

Like all failures, however, there are lessons to be learned.  Beekeeping is a fascinating hobby and we intend to continue our education and become more knowledgeable in all aspects of managing bees.  We have already placed our order for two packages of honeybees to arrive some time in April.  We will also be attending a one day course offered at the University of Minnesota on beekeeping in northern climates this spring.  Hopefully our next year with honeybees will have a better ending than our first year!


Filed under Bees