Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Winter's Coming

Much as I have enjoyed the long-lasting warm weather, I know that reality will soon rear its ugly head and once again, it will be cold. Cold for real--not the 28 degrees at 7am but then 75 degrees by 3pm--all day and all night cold. Granted, winter in Western North Carolina is nothing compared to the Chicago winters of my youth. Warm days here are a possibility. We've enjoyed 70 degree weather on more than one New Year's Day. Those lovely days, however, are breaks and not normal weather for November through March at least.

After last year's harsh weather wherein we set a record for most days with sub-freezing temperatures and had a monster snowstorm that wreaked havoc for a week just before Christmas, we're feeling that we're due for a milder winter. The forecasters say La Nina may grant us that wish. Still, many nights will be below freezing even if most of the days are not.

Here's a bunch of the things I've been doing to get the farm ready for winter:

- Pulling the remaining plants out of the garden (must look for recipes to use up large quantity of fresh herbs now sitting in my fridge)
- Emptying the rain barrels
- Draining and storing the many hoses used for conveying water to the garden and to the water buffalo
- Making room in the worm composter by taking a layer of castings to the garden (could do this anytime but it's a much less pleasant chore in the cold--especially the part where I have to clean the bin and end up drenching myself)
- Purchasing and spreading straw in the big barn for the buffs to snuggle into on cold nights
- Giving the buffs' water tanks a thorough cleaning (again, a self-drenching issue)
- Closing up the beehive (leaving a small opening for "cleansing flights") and piling straw bales around it as a wind break
- Moving the buffs to a new pasture to keep them eating grass as long as possible (so I don't have to feed as much hay) and to keep the thatch and vines from taking over
- Worrying that the buffs don't have enough fat on them yet so feeding them some hay anyway
- Scanning the hay ads (and you thought Craigslist was just for apartments and adult services) in case I decide  that my current stockpile won't be sufficient
- Using rainy days to plant orchard-grass seed wherever the pastures are thin on good grass
- Cleaning out the old feeding troughs in the big barn so I can drop hay from the top level to the buffs below when it's too cold or rainy to be outside
- Locating the heat lamps and extension cords for placement on vulnerable pipes when the temps get into the low 20s

Ack. I know there's more but I'm getting tired just thinking about it all now.

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