Posts Tagged ‘winter’

The past few weeks have brought some winter-like weather to our area, as it has to so many other areas around the US.

Ice Cabbage - Jan 2014

Ice Cabbage – Jan 2014

This is the first year that I haven’t set up the hoops on the garden to cover the vegetable. So far, so good.

We have had more freezing rain and ice than normal, but the veggies seem to be doing alright. I try to water them 36 hours before the big even, whether it is freezing temperatures or freezing rain. That give the plant enough time to use the water to protect itself.

Ice Kale Jan - 2014

Ice Kale Jan – 2014

These photos show some pretty chilly veggies, but they have come through it all relatively unscathed.

How is your winter garden (or summer) garden doing?

Sincerely, Emily

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We had a really hard summer here in South Texas last year and I know we were not alone. As we headed into winter we started getting a little rain. The winter went on and the rains continued little by little. Every little bit has helped, but it still hasn’t been enough.

The winter in my area was much milder than it has been over the past 3 years. My winter vegetable garden has done extremely well and I only remember watering it in the fall to get things started. After that, the rains took over and the cooler temps really kicked those winter veggies into grow-mode. I need to make some notes in my garden notebook… mainly, plant more next year!

In the past few weeks our weather has become quite warm and spring fever is just pushing me to get the vegetable seedlings in the ground. The wildflowers and other “weeds” are growing like crazy. Those seeds all lying in wait for the spring rains and the warmth of the sun to be able to germinate and emerge. They have started to grow and bloom, and produce seed to be able to continue the cycle of life. I don’t mind the wild flowers, but the weeds are out of control this spring.

Thinking of all those seeds lying dormant, waiting for rain and sun, full of hope. I feel the same way. I have hope for a better spring gardening season; better than last year. I am hopeful that we will continue to get some regular rains. I am hopeful that the temperatures don’t rise so quickly. I am hopeful that my vegetable seedlings and other plants have a chance to put down deep roots and grow healthy leaves and have enough energy to produce food.

As I look around, I see beautiful wildflowers, many of which are growing right in my yard. Everything is so lush and green, and the trees seemed to have budded out overnight, and many are full of new green leaves.

I have decided to plant a few tomatoes out in the garden already, not all of them, just a few. I will plant a few more at a time, testing the weather, hoping Mr. Frost doesn’t pay a visit. I am hopeful.

Are you hopeful this Spring?

Sincerely, Emily

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Sunday Photos: Winter

Now the winter seemed long.
Laura and Mary began to be tired
of staying always in the house.

Laura Ingals Wilder (Little House in the Big Woods)


Chiot’s Run is in NE Ohio so we have LONG winters. I’m not quite to the point where I’m ready to get out, but I’ll be there in February. One of the things that makes winters more bearable is the snow. It makes the days brighter and covers everything in a beautiful blanket of lovely. I think it’s natures version of throwing everything in the closet when guests are coming over. Here are some photos of our snowy winters.

What are the winter’s like where you live?

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We’ve had a fairly cold winter so, unlike most years, I have not been able to simply look outside and see if the bees are flying to know they are ok. I prepared the bees this fall by treating them with various things to make sure they were healthy, I made sure they had plenty of honey and pollen to eat through the winter and then I crossed my fingers.

Still clustered, but dead

We recently had a warm day and I was able to check the 4 hives at my house. To my dismay, 2 were dead-outs. All of my hives at other locations are fine so I was surprised to find some at my house that were gone. We live atop a hill in Charleston, WV and we get serious wind. I have a windbreak around them but I considered that the extreme drafts might have gotten to them. That is the one characteristic that separates the hives at my house from the ones I have elsewhere. It has been said that one cannot freeze bees…if they stay dry and not too windy. If either problem exists, all bets are off so I figured I fell prey to the wind.

Heads down in the cells...telltale sign of starvation

I opened the hives and immediately knew that the wind was not to blame, but rather the cold…sort of. You see, my bees didn’t freeze, but rather starved to death. The cold makes bees cluster together. As it gets especially cold with no warm days interspersed, the bees cannot break their cluster. Without breaking cluster, they cannot move through the hive either. Since their honey stores are spread throughout the hive, they need to be able to move around periodically to eat.

Some honey nearby where they were clustered

Plenty of honey one more frame over...

So, I opened 2 hives and saw the tell-tale signs…bees still clustered together, many bees with their heads deep in honeycomb cells, and honey nearby, but not right where they died.

I hate for a colony to die, and when it is related to something I might have done wrong, it irritates me even more (fortunately, that doesn’t happen often anymore). But when it’s due to nature, I guess I feel a little bit of relief. It’s never fun, but it is a reality of beekeeping. So, I just hope for warmer days here and there so the bees can move to food and also for a quick Spring! Come on Spring!

Warren can also be found at My Home Among the Hills writing about the adventures of life in WV.

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This week we are looking at the things of this winter season…the ice that is on our troughs and fence posts…and the fire that is in our woodstoves, firepits…and in the sky!

Happy New Year…New Decade!

This is shot from the shores of a lake that our cabin is on…I call it

Fire Water!

Ice on the Pasture Fence

Around the campfire.

Icy Camel!


At the Roost, fire defines our life.  It provides the warmth in our home. It dictates sleep and wake cycles.  Feeding it fills our days and nights with activity. 

All the rest of our world is ice.





We track through it to the barn, hauling water and feed,

And it looms over us at every turn.

Hope your New Year is warm and filled with light.

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On our 10 acres we have just over half in use.  Most of it is pasture for the animals, the orchard, garden, and house occupy the rest.  The remaining land is wild and we have it hayed each year.  We then buy back the some of the hay at a much discounted price.  It works out very well for both us and our neighbor who gets some of our hay for free for his cattle. It also keep the weeds (blackberries specifically) at a young manageable state.  As opposed to the giant vines that would develope if we let the property go. We have been doing this for all 12+ years that we have lived here. 

This year we didn’t get it mowed down.  The summer just got away from us and before we knew it it was to late for hay.  I thought I wouldn’t like seeing the pasture grass all grown up and weedy all winter…

But I have enjoyed standing at the kitchen window and observing all the wild creatures that are using the grass for cover.  Rabbits especially seem to be thriving in the field.  Our local hawks have been circling looking…and finding…rodents.  Even my kids bundle up and go run through it on the way to grandma’s

We won’t let the property go wild every year but for this year it has been fun to see what happens when you just let nature be in charge. Not making hay is a good thing once and a while!  Besides…

It gives me something else to take pictures of, and goodness knows I need to take more pictures…

Just ask my overstuffed computer and extra hard drives!

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A Different Winter Plan

Each year I wait out winter with a very long lists of things I must and things I want to get done around the garden.  There are trellises and fences to be built.  Things to be painted and stained.  Reordering and rearranging to be done….

I sit watching the rain and wait…and wait some more.

At the end of each dry season I still have a long list of things to do…never enough time to get it all done.

I have decided that this winter will be different…I have decided instead of staying indoors waiting, I will put on  my rain gear and work through the wet and the wind.

Many things can be done in the winter, building projects especially.  They will not be as pleasant as in the summer but done they will be.

I have a new list.  Things that can still be accomplished in the winter….

The new kiwi trellis

Finish the fence around the cane berries.

Build a two new raised beds for strawberries.

New wire supports over the chicken yard for the roses.

4 Gates to be built and painted in the garage.
If I could finish these things my list in the spring will be much more manageable. It will be wet and cold but I’m sure the feeling of accomplishment will outweigh the chill!

So dear Not Normal Readers….do you have any outdoor projects that you are going to try to get done this winter?

Kim can also be found at the inadvertent farmer where she raises organic fruits, veggies, critters, kids and….a camel!

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I have always wanted to extend my growing season.  I have not wanted to invest the money in a greenhouse.  Well if there was money I suppose I would!  Anyway I have found and easy, cheap, simple way to extend my zone 8 Pacific Northwest season!

My tomatoes have long shriveled and turned black from our first frost weeks ago.  My beans are gone too.  I have not said goodbye yet to my eggplant or bell peppers. They are still ripening and providing me with fresh nutritious produce.

yellow peppers winter garden tunnel

I raise my main garden veggies in raised beds (minus squash and melons) due to our notoriously wet weather here in  Washington state.  I put up tunnels of concrete reinforcing wire that I placed in the bed by bending over and using tension to keep them in place.  I covered with clear plastic and held it down by brick.  Quick, easy, inexpensive!  I put them on early in the spring and just never removed them.yellow bell peppers winter garden

Although there are no new peppers being set, the 100’s of immature peppers are now getting a chance to ripen.  There aren’t the huge harvests that the late summer brought but there are a handful every day much to the delight of my pepper loving heart!

yellow peppers1

With any luck I just might have fresh peppers for Thanksgiving!

So do you have any inexpensive season extending secrets you would like to share?


Kim can also be found at the inadvertent farmer raising organic fruits, veggies, critters, kids…and a camel!

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