Friday, December 31, 2010

Snow for the New Year

The cats and I are doing the couch thing again today. I hemmed and hawed this morning before daylight, debating risking the roads to fill the hay feeders again since the forecast is inching up toward 12" - history says the plows won't hit the gravel roads Sunday or Monday.

We had a brief window of clear before the blizzard kicked in again, and I was tempted, but it's really hard to judge how badly things have drifted in - town weather is rarely the same as conditions outside the city limits. Often it's better, sometimes it's a lot worse.

If nothing else, I figured calling to check and let them know I was on my way wouldn't hurt. I'm glad I did, as J said she'd feed for me this afternoon and tomorrow if necessary. Which makes me feel a lot better. If I was going to go, it would have had to have been then - at this point, the wind is holding at about 25mph at the moment, but I can barely see across the street it's snowing so hard, so I think the window has closed.

Tortilla soup is bubbling away in the crock pot, bread's baking, and I have pears that need to be made into... muffins, maybe? Or possibly pie - haven't decided yet. Something to make the house smell good, though.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Angels with snowy faces...

Or abominable snow beasties, perhaps? It's hard to tell the difference sometimes!

From mid-30's Tuesday and Wednesday - I took advantage of the nice weather to get the five of them wormed.

It's just plain nasty.
I was supposed to give blood at the 4-H drive this afternoon, but when the called to say the drive was ending early due to inclement weather, I stopped in there before chores. Lighter by a pint, but newly outside of two chocolate chip cookies, I headed out to feed. (T says forking hay isn't heavy lifting, although I suspect the blood-drive personnel might disagree.)

Thankful for 4-wheel drive doesn't begin to cover it. We had freezing rain before the snow started, but the plows either hadn't run yet or the wind was just covering up all traces too fast to tell.

I left the truck running while I distributed enough hay that they should be fine through Saturday if I can't make it out tomorrow. They should still be able to reach the bale once they've cleaned out the feeders.

They seemed to be warm and snug behind the tree grove, despite their snowy overcoats. They were all enjoying an afternoon snooze when I arrived.

I'm crossing my fingers it stops before we get the 8" they're predicting for tomorrow. Until then, the cats and I are enjoying the couch!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holiday rush

Or maybe that should read sugar rush, because that's what I spent the majority of yesterday on. Friday morning was a run to the store for baking supplies and a few Christmas presents. Friday afternoon was two batches of fudge and a batch of cherry mash (cherry fudge with Maraschino cherries layered between dark chocolate fudge with pecan bits). Saturday morning was - almost - the last of the boxing for mailing, a batch of cookie jar ginger snaps and mini-shortbread cookies and getting all of the sweet stuff boxed up for the vet clinic, garage, library and assorted other destinations.

T has a cold, so he was banned from the kitchen, but he made the post office run for me, bless him! Haven't touched the cards yet, though.

The cats are thoroughly enjoying the holidays. Although their space under the tree has been taken up by packages, the boxes arriving and going are endlessly fascinating.
This box came from my folks - Yancey, their dog, is a cat-eater (or she would be if she had the opportunity) so when they visit we set up gates and she goes in her crate at night.
The box must have retained some Yancey smell. As soon as it was open Nunu started sniffing the air and as I took the presents out, commenced digging through the packing to make sure it wasn't concealing anything suspicious. Once she'd ensured it was sage, she made herself at home. Mabel checked it out, too, but Snowball just supervised from a safe distance in case the actual dog appeared.

T suggested we just tape the box up and send Nunu to Yancey for Christmas... One of them would enjoy that, the other likely not so much! Apparently Yancey's been checking all the incoming packages on that end for furry occupants, as well - but I don't think she takes naps in the boxes afterward.

The ponies, meanwhile...
Are eating their fool heads off. They greeted me enthusiastically yesterday and left off their afternoon naps to join me at the feeder. I wanted to make sure they could still reach the bale okay, and ended up distributing a bit, not that they really needed it.

We're supposed to have 20's today, so if there isn't too much wind and T's feeling better we may try riding. It's looking pretty gray at the moment, but we'll see how it goes.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Escapees on Sunday

Sunday's clear morning turned into overcast and gloom before noon - not that I'm complaining, as the temps at least nudged up out of the negative numbers once the clouds moved in. With the thermometer still hovering around -3' at 9am, my morning's planned outing - to go observe C's science fair project (something to do with resting and active heart rates in horses) research in progress was on hold. Even with the prospect of a heated arena to use at the end of the trip, no one was really that enthused about trailering the 12 miles over to the trainer's for a non-emergency.

So I decided to be productive and start my Christmas baking - five loaves of fruit cake (not my favorite thing, but my dad and a couple of other family members request it every year) with properly whiskey-soaked fruit. I'm late, so it won't get its full three weeks of post-baking liquor-drenching before mailing, but it's done. It's different every year, since I never remember exactly what I added to the batter the year before. This year I'm trying jalapeno jelly instead of the peach/apple/apricot/cherry I've used in past years. The batter raw was tasty, so hopefully the finished product will be likewise.

While that was in the oven I contested with the cats for the Christmas wrap. They finally were satisfied with their own piece to pounce on and punch full of claw prints. Silly critters!

Then I tackled two batches of fudge, one with a cup of Andes Candies mint pieces for flavor, and one with a half bag of Heath English Toffee bits; neither with nuts, because I used all of those up in the fruit cake. I use Carnation's fudge recipe and have yet to have any issues with graininess or failure to set, even when I experiment with random additions like the Andes Candy bits. Taste testing says the Andies Candies were a definite hit. I don't like toffee, so I'm not thrilled with the other batch, but T gave it two thumbs up (and had to be threatened with losing a few fingers to keep him out of the pan, so I think he did actually like it - LOL!).

I was just starting to bundle up for the afternoon's horse-checking expedition when the phone rang - it was J, the farm owner letting me know that she'd penned all the horses in the lot except the one on the wrong side (!) of the fence. The neighbor's cows had apparently pushed their way into the east horse pasture trying to escape Saturday's wind, and she didn't want the horses getting in the way of the removal efforts. Sigh...

I plated some fudge for her, then headed out to see what the damage was. Thankfully, other than Thunder, who was indeed completely on the wrong side of the fence, and the other four miffed ponies who wanted out of the lot and back at the hay bale post haste, all was well. The cows were back where they belonged already, Thunder was happy to be reunited with the other four and had only a small scuff mark from being driven over the feeder (green paint on his back hooves gave that exit route away). I rearranged the gates to hopefully discourage further escapes and let them all back out. T'll check them again tonight, but I think now that the weather's calmed down and the panels are secured differently, they should stay where they're supposed to.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Healing nicely!

Back in early October we arrived at the farm to find Amyra with a really nasty gash midway up her barrel.

From this...
Oct. 9, 2010

After stitching...

After a week

After 20 days

Dec. 10th - after 2 months

Not too shabby! I don't think it's even going to leave a mark.

Fall, Meet Winter - aka "Hello, Blizzard!"

Talk about dramatic weather changes!

What you can't see in the pictures is the temperature difference - not to mention the multiple extra layers I had on Saturday!

Friday afternoon we had 40's - yesterday we saw single digits and wind gusts to 47 mph. And snow - not lots, fortunately, but less than an inch of snow was still enough to leave a 2 1/2' drift across our front walk and have the plows running non-stop to keep the emergency routes clear.

Thankfully in the country the roads were much better. The snow stopped by late afternoon, and we headed out to make sure the horses were weathering things okay.

With the wind out of the north, they have the shelterbelt to serve as a windbreak, and were tucked in contentedly at their bale.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I'm such a wuss!

It's cold out there! I haven't ridden in two weeks. The horses aren't minding the cold, but unlike PrairieRunner over at Just Another Day on the Prairie, I find it much more appealing to stay inside and torture the cats.
Yes, those are antlers. Honestly, I expected much more reaction - she's apparently decided that when the camera flash goes off - she gets fish. She thinks this stuff is wonderful. The cats got for Christmas last year, and will likely again this year-

at least if Snowball has anything to say about it!

We did mend a bit of fence where the deer had run through the top wire yesterday. The horses were having a grand time blowing and snorting and just generally being silly - storm coming in... Too bad my camera got cold. I got a few of these, and then it quit. Brrr!
So that's the weekend here thus far - now I'm off to catch up on everyone else's activities!