Critters in the Snow

I am happy to report that the extreme cold weather we had last week has passed on over the Cascades.  We still have a few inches of snow on the ground, but our temperatures have climbed well out of the single digits.  The animals have had varying reactions to the snow and cold weather.  We are feeding the cattle hay and they come running when they see us pull up.

The water troughs are still slushy, but not frozen solid so the bovines have an easier time getting water.

While our week of wild weather seemed extreme to us, compared to the weather at the cattle ranch we visited in Montana this was nothing.  See our new heifer from Montana # 815 (who still needs a better name by the way).  Take a close look at her ears.

Notice anything different from Dusty’s ears?

A chunk of #815’s ears froze off – really.  Shortly after she was born there  was a very cold Montana storm,  -35 degrees below zero is not unheard of there, and she got frostbite on her extremities.  She’s missing part of her tail too.

So, compared to that kind of weather, our little cold snap was nothing for the cattle!

The chickens don’t seem quite convinced that snow is their favorite thing.  These two just stood in the gateway looking out and trying to decide what to do.  We put a light bulb near their water so as long as we have power, their water isn’t frozen.  As the snow lingers the hens are venturing out more and more.

The two least affected by the weather are the kittens Harry and Bess.  They live in the shed so it’s not too cold, and have a nice warm bed all to themselves.

We feed the cats on top of the wood shaving bales so their food is out of the dog’s reach.  It really doesn’t seem too fair for the cats to eat  the dog’s food – but they do every chance they get.


The dogs don’t have it so bad though.  During the day they have their warm bed on the porch and at night they sleep in their completely insulated dog house.

And so far Molly has only chewed one small hole in the cover.  Quite an improvement over the last bed which they tore into so many pieces it looked like confetti all over the front yard.

What a Week!

It has been an interesting and exciting time here at the ranch this past week or so.  Our first snow of the season blanketed us with beauty late Saturday evening and we drove to church on Sunday in the snow.  My SUV performed very well on its initial snow voyage.

Grizzly seemed a little puzzled about all the white stuff falling from the heavens.

Then the wind came up and blew in a storm like we have never experienced here.  Winds consistently at 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 50 and 60 in places.  The power went out on Monday morning and stayed out until Wednesday evening.  Thank goodness we have a wood stove and oil lamps!

We also have a back-up generator which is kind of a pain to get fired up, but we are very grateful to have it to take nice warm showers. The wind blew away most all of the snow and a few trees too.  The power came back on in due time – all told we lost power four times with the longest outage being 46 hours – and when we ventured down our road to tend to the cattle we could see why it had been out.

A huge windstorm had hit all of western Washington.  You may have seen I-5 through downtown Seattle on the news.  In a seven mile stretch of road over 200 cars were abandoned.  People commuting home had delays of up to 8 hours as they were caught in the traffic jams created by all the weather related accidents and road closures.  Kind of made our little road mess look like not such a big deal.

We knew the cattle’s water troughs would be iced over in the freeze, but didn’t really expect one huge solid block of ice.

 Both the water troughs – 100 gallons each – were frozen solid; the temperature was around 15 degrees with a windchill that felt like well below zero to me.  We had brought along our propane blow torch and thought we would melt the ice.

Not.  After having the flame directly on the ice for 15 -20 minutes there was only a small puddle of water – and the cattle were letting us know they were getting impatient and thirsty.  So, Plan B was to haul water to them.  Luckily our outside hosebib was not frozen, so we gathered every container we could find with a lid and started filling them up with water.

We poured the water on top of the blocks of ice in the water trough, and almost as soon as it hit the ice it froze too.  After we got a couple of inches of water in the trough the cattle could slurp it up before it froze.  They had been pawing at the ground and eating the frozen grass, but they seemed to appreciate the hay we brought them.

Thankfully the extreme cold has tapered off.  We are still hauling water to the cattle, but the troughs are slushy now and slowly thawing out as the temperature is now a balmy 36 degrees.


Update 11/26:  AGGIES WIN!  I’m sure they are printing the Commemorative T shirts as I type this.  Megan said she nearly froze during the whole game but otherwise it was wonderful 🙂

Special Thanks: To the very kind lady whose name I do not know who  prepared and served a full Thanksgiving Dinner with all the trimmings to not only her own college son, but her son’s high school buddies, and her son’s high school buddies friends, and her son’s high school buddies friends girlfriends (that would be Megan) who descended on Austin for the game, Thank You!  And this very nice lady  – and her college son – are Longhorns 🙂


Those of you who are not well-versed in Aggie culture may not know (or care) that their hated arch-enemies are the University of Texas Longhorns.  I believe I have said here before that the Aggies and Longhorns have enjoyed hating each other for well over a hundred years now.  They go to extreme lengths to show their animosity towards one another and have several derisive terms for the Longhorns which we will not mention here in a family blog.  Actually I think this one picture pretty much sums it all up.

The Aggie football team is having it’s best season in years ( though they certainly didn’t show it at the game we attended) and the Aggies are all very excited about their traditional Thanksgiving Day game versus the University of Texas.  Our own Aggie is in attendance in Austin, celebrating Thanksgiving by watching the football game.  Go Aggies!

To the rest of us, Happy Thanksgiving!


I’ve noticed something about having chickens and gathering your own eggs.  They don’t always come in the pefect, uniform sizes and color that you get at the grocery store.

Sometimes they are larger and sometimes smaller.  In this case we had two that were really small – almost the size of quail eggs.

When the chickens first started laying eggs (they were about four months old) they laid some really small ones like these.  Since then, they have consistently been a pretty standard large size – with the occasional huge one.  As I was thinking about the little eggs and how cute they are, I wondered – what do they do with these little odd ones in the large egg production companies?

I’m sure there is some kind of sorting mechanism that separates the large, from extra large, etc. , but I’ve never seen a carton labeled “tiny” have you?  Which is kind of sad to me.  In large-scale production you lose the individual, odd and different things that happen naturally.  So, I’m glad we have our own chickens who lay their own unique eggs, it makes life more interesting.  And they taste better too!

P.S.  We gave these eggs to our neighbor who used them the other day and she reported that they were all white with no yolk, so her small omelette was very healthy.

The View

OK Folks – I’m typing as fast as I can and you better read this quick before our power goes out yet again.  This is the view from our porch this morning.

Is started snowing sometime in the night.  Now it looks like a Christmas postcard with the flakes falling gently.

This is the edge of our circle gravel drive way.  I guess we will get to see how my little SUV does in the snow on the way to church.

So Ugly She’s Cute

My brother sent me pictures of one of his dogs.  It seems his neighbor has a website that sells reflective collars for dogs and he needed a dog model and asked if he could take pictures of Chloe.

I don’t want to be unkind to Chloe, she is a friendly dog and very loving.  She snuggled right up in her lap when Megan was taking a nap on the couch last Christmas.


 Chloe is not really an attractive dog – and this is after her corrective surgery – yes the dog had her eyelids done.  Maybe she’s heading for Hollywood?

I think she illustrates the “she’s so ugly she’s cute” phrase, don’t you?

90 Years Old

We were guests at a birthday celebration this past weekend for our neighbor, Floreta who is now 90 years old. I think that is a pretty special occasion – I mean how many 90th birthday parties have you attended?

She is a very sweet lady and interesting to talk with. 

I started thinking about how much the world has changed in her lifetime.  When she was born in 1920, electricity was not in common use; not to mention automobiles, airplanes, and all those other newfangled things we take for granted.  She has never owned a computer or sent an e-mail, much less a cell phone or I-Pod.    And yet, she is one of the happiest, most content people I know.  Kind of makes you stop and think, doesn’t it?  Happy Birthday Floreta!