Thursday, February 06, 2014

It's been a winter

Right now, it's 13 degrees outside. There are 5 inches of old snow under an inch thick crust of ice that has been there for two days. The sky is low and gray, but there is no more snow predicted for a few days. However, the high is not supposed to hit freezing until the next snow arrives. I'm not complaining.

Old Durfria and the dairy goats share a comfy shelter.
Nestled in for winter at Havencroft Farm
I've said many times that this has been a perfect weather year - with four clearly defined seasons. Spring sprung wet and warm and bountiful; summer sizzled and allowed a good harvest of hay and crops; fall was glorious and winter has been WINTER. We live on the borderlands between the north and south and east and west of the US. Part of the reason we chose to settle here in the Ozarks is the four seasons and moderate weather. It's been a wintery winter, but so far, we've only had two days of below 0 temps, the snows have not been over a foot and the ice has stayed less than an inch. Moderate. We need winter to keep the parasite and insect populations at bay, to give the trees and other beings some rest and to encourage the sheep to grow thick wooly coats.

This winter did start right on schedule - the first week in December - with a big winter storm that cancelled our biggest craft show of the year, the one where many Arkansas artisans make most of our winter income. That has made the rest of the winter challenging in our community. Now, several storms later, propane prices are sky rocketing. At least many folks in our area still burn wood for heat.

The ewe flock 
The last two nights, I've been out checking on my Tillie angora goat doe, who was bred early. She's due in the next week. We don't start lambing or kidding for real until March 1. We have 11 ewes due this year and 8 does. We won't start shearing until the 10 day forecast stays above freezing.

The ice hasn't gotten too thick, and it is pretty.

And it is still only the first week in February, so we should have some winter yet to come. I'm not complaining, just observing and documenting and being thankful that I raise sheep and have lots of wool clothing. I'm just hoping that Spring puts in her appearance on schedule and I can plant my peas and potatoes on St. Patty's day, like normal.

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