Snow in the Cedars – 12/17/20

From the perspective of routine life at our farm, the year 2020 has left us with few truly good points to remember.  The best memories I will recall include publishing the books I have written over the past few years, enjoying relatively good Farmers Market sales, and the spectacular fall weather and colors that adorned our mountain landscape.  However, we are currently working on one more—a potential White Christmas for the first time since 2017 (the year we retired from our professional jobs).  Our hopes have been fueled by the biggest snowstorm we have received since the 28-inch storm that struck on January 22-23, 2016.  Since that time, we have had only two storms that have deposited six or more inches of snow.  That all ended on December 16-17 when an overnight storm left us with a fresh ten-inch blanket of fluffy white snow.

The Morning After – 12/17/20

The snow began to fall in the mid-morning ours of December 17.  The morning low had fallen well below freezing, so it didn’t take long for the snow to begin collecting on the lightly frozen ground.  The official snowfall projections for the storm had been increasing gradually over time, leading me to believe that we would receive the higher end of forecasted range.  It was.  By late afternoon when the snowfall let up briefly, I measured 8.5 inches on our 350-gallon LP gas tank, which is a reliably cold surface to measure the actual accumulation.  At that point, the snowfall from the storm was at least one inch more than from any other storm that occurred since I began living full-time at our farm on February 17, 2017.  Our entire mountain landscape was painted white and deep blue, and all of our cedar trees were laden with delicate, cottony clumps of white snow.  Only the tallest remaining strands of broom sedge in our hayfield protruded above the fresh blanket of snow.  Nothing evokes a pleasing sense of winter beauty and the approach of Christmas than a clean and sparkling blanket of snow.

Afternoon Near Whiteout – 12/16/20

Throughout most of the first day, the snow fell at an average rate of an inch per hour.  The snowy fog became so thick that even the nearest hills and mountains faded gently into the ethereal haze, creating near white-out conditions.  During my periodic forays onto the front porch to bring in firewood for the kitchen wood stove, I noticed the intense silence that settled across the landscape.  It seemed as though life itself had come to a complete halt, as every living animal had taken quiet shelter to wait out the storm.  I had left the sliding goat barn door open slightly for the goats to see outside, and I occasionally saw Essie and Snowball’s heads protruding from their dry and comfortable barn to study the wintery scene.

Calli’s Goldfinch Catching Dreams – 12/16/20

Calli, who had never seen so much snow on the ground, was uncertain of what to do, although I noticed several paw-paths she had tracked across the snow in her efforts to find some shelter under the nearest cedar trees that she favors. I will admit that she has made many fearless expeditions into the snow, although her interest in the great outdoors has diminished significantly.  She has been spending much more of her time indoors since the storm began, as she sought reassurance from the periodic petting and brushing sessions we gave her.  Eventually, she realized that she could enjoy watching the goldfinches feed on a sock feeder that hangs strategically in front of the dining room window.

Banana Bread Baked in our Wood Cookstove – 12/16/20

Barb whiled away the storm using our hot wood cookstove to make a number of baked goods from scratch, including a pizza, a sheet of spicy pepperoni rolls, a large chicken pot pie and perfectly baked loaves of banana and sourdough bread.  We even enjoyed a large pot of corn chowder and some toasted reuben sandwiches that were cooked for suppers on the stovetop.  Our wood cookstove is a delightfully handy and efficient kitchen appliance that gives us warm, embracing heat on cold winter days and a wide range of cooking and baking opportunities at no additional cost.  It also gives us the security of knowing we never have to worry about how we’ll survive if the power goes out.  That’s a level of daily lifestyle security you can’t get so affordably in today’s urban world. Now that the storm has passed, the cold air that remained behind is giving us hope that we will enjoy a White Christmas this coming Friday.  Our forecast contains a few more light snowfalls and flurries between now and then, which we hope will be enough to reinforce our blanket of snow so that it will last another six days.  Regardless of how long it will last, the big snow cover we received makes it feel a lot more like Christmas this year, and that is a welcome feeling, given all the Coronavirus hysteria and controversy we have had to suffer through this year.  With a little luck, perhaps our recent snowstorm can be a rewarding redemption for this difficult year and a promising hope for a better year in 2021.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our loyal Peeper Pond Farm followers.

Winter Wonderland – Hardy County, Corridor H – 12/18/20