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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Monday is Winter Solstice

At 8:47am Alaska Standard Time, we will begin our Winter Solstice. Our days, in the beginning, will slowly gain minutes of daylight. In honor of this, on Sunday night as I type this, our temperature has been slowly climbing all day and all evening with a mild Chinook pushing up from the south. A few days ago we were at -4. This evening, we've gone all the way up to 30 degrees! Which means of course the snow is getting heavy and we will now spend our time shoveling snow off any tarps or equipment before it gets too heavy and wet, turning to solid ice a few days from now. For Alaskans tho, Solstice means the gaining of daylight, and the slow approach to summer, albeit months away. Anyone with a little Cabin Fever will feel just a bit better too.

Happy Winter Solstice!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

And it started again!

Well........sometime last night the snows started again, and kept going until this afternoon. Another 4 or 5 inches on top of what we already had. Best guess is we got about 18 inches of snow. It's deep.......where it hasn't been plowed we're walking in snow up to our knees. I have to say I bought a new pair of boots late this summer on Sierra Trading Post, made by Columbia, and they are neoprenes like the Muck Boats out there. I only paid around $35 for, what a great expenditure! They are easy to stretch over your jeans too, and my feet have stayed very warm in them. I'm really happy with them and it sure was money well spent. They have kept the snow out very well. The sheep were all white snow balls today too.......seems they thought it more important to eat non-stop than to stay in where it was dry!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The snow stopped for now...

The snow stopped at quarter to four this afternoon. We now have a fresh 13 inches on the ground added to what we already had. Gee, how exciting! HA!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

ok, turn off the snow now....

ooops.........seems that someone forgot to turn off the snow making machine! Instead of getting a few inches like they originally thought, it's not stopped snowing since yesterday, and the forecast is looking kinda ugly! They just sent out a winter advisory.......funny, the word advisory makes it sound like it's not a big deal. We've already gotten at least 8 inches of snow, now they've changed it again. Since when is an additional 8 to 15 inches on top of the already 8 inches we've had an ADVISORY? I'd say that's a frickin' snow storm, wouldn't you?

I can just see those men sitting at the forecasting office adding up the data, drinking their Starbucks skinny latte's, giggling their butts off as they issue a WEATHER ADVISORY..... wouldn't ya think it should be a winter storm warning at least? HA!

Hope you're snug as a bug in a rug wherever you're at........can I say I LOVE MY WOODSTOVE???!!!!

Monday, December 14, 2009


Yay!! We have fresh snow coming down - a little fine snowfall all day long and it hasn't stopped yet. We needed fresh snow. And, here anyways, when it snows it's usually fairly warm... and it was 18 degrees above zero for the high. That's a wonderful temperature for sure! They are predicting temps to go down to at least -10 by the end of the week, so while it's warm, and the beautiful snow is falling, us Alaskans work outdoors to catch up and hopefully get ahead of chores on a farm! I went through the kennel runs tonight and pulled out all of the water buckets, half filled with ice now. All got thawed out, scrubbed with hot water and soap, and all put back into the runs - waiting for the morning warm water to arrive. That's a weekly job I usually save for later in the week, but when it's warm you do what needs to be done! Tomorrow, if we still have these temps, I'll bring out the portable hose reel from it's warm safety and I'll wash down the chainlink and exterior walls. They accumulate allot of dust - how you might ask? You see, our cold here is usually a very dry cold. Like freeze-dried. As the dogs run and play most of the day, they loosen up the surface of their runs which is sand. Our sand up here, even the washed sand that we buy by the dumptruck load, still has fine silt in it. That silt gets loosened up eventually even with shavings down. And it floats into the air. And gets all over everything! I hate it! So, before I put in fresh shavings, I'll wash the kennel runs down - and some of the spray will freeze down the dusty sand again too. Then after that sets up overnight, the layer of shavings will go over that. It will make a huge difference. I always have to watch when the dust starts to show up again - which always depends on the weather , temperature, and humidity or lack of it. I don't want the dogs breathing in the dust either. Keeping kennels tidy in these conditions during the winter up here can be challenging! Since they have a roof over their outdoor runs, it never snows INSIDE their runs........just in case you were wondering why it is so dry. But what IS fun is that the dogs all looooooooove the snow. So I'll take the big feed scoop shovel and go down the line, scooping a big shovelful of fresh snow over the top of each kennel run and they pounce in it and roll in it and have a great time eating the fresh snow.

Snow! YAY!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

And here's what they said...

I also got a few interesting emails too...and here's what they said....

Topping the list was take a NAP!

2nd was cruising the internet for items at least 50% off regular price.

And 1 person replied going out to the sheep or goat pen and just sitting there for an hour in the sun, watching the animals and greeting them as they came over to investigate.

All of the above sounds great to me!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What do you do in the winter with 2 extra hours?

Just a thought - what do you do in the winter with 2 extra hours? Email me your ideas and I'll post them here!

Right now, for me it would be a toss up between taking a much-needed nap or else shopping online for a Christmas present I can't find in the stores!

How about you??

Another photo

Another photo of Flyer that I finally got scanned....
Flyer was born in April so is still just a puppy.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


A candid shot of Flyer, as a puppy at this first dog show.
Taken by Roger Hale of Moosewood Farm.

Monday, December 7, 2009

By popular request - more barn pics

The Barn repainted again in 2005 - wings had been added on and the goats have loafing area underneath each wing to stay dry even if it snows or rains but still be outside for fresh air.

Summer of 2001 - 2nd floor and roofing done.
Early spring 2001
Air-dried timbers and lumber, cut from our forest. Board and Batten walls on the first floor. Concrete poured slab foundation; stall construction.

Fall of 2000, the bottom level siding going on; commercial floor joists and plywood decking for the 2nd floor are on. Rick built the barn by himself as a winter project.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The barn aisle - barn tour inside

These are the ribbons the 5 Nubians won this year at the few shows
we attended....1 is a Best in Show; several are Best Udder in Breed.

This is looking into their stall and the 'red door' is a guillotine type to their outdoors pen.

Here's the Nubians stall - heated 5 gallon water bucket, everything set for 'dinner time'...just like the other stalls in the barn. The stalls were cleaned on Friday and this is now Sunday. The walls in the stalls are white sheet steel so that they are easy to wash down and disinfect. The red half doors into the stalls that Rick made are of expanded metal. There are wood half doors that close over them to keep the drafts out at night.

And this is the main barn aisle - the first 24 feet on the left is a work bench/storage area for farm equipment, parts, and hardware. The first 24 feet on the right is the dairy room with the stainless sink, water heater, freezer, fridge, shelves, stainless table, and dog crates.

The first stall on the left is Nigerian Dwarf girls; the last on the left is the Saanens; the end on the right is the Nubians; and the closest on the right is a pair of heated birthing stalls and milkstand.

I hope you enjoyed the tour!

Oh, and yes, that's a TV on the left that I can watch while I milk if I don't want to miss Desperate Housewives! HA!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Christmas Lights Season

House lights at dawn in December - photo lightened to show details.

Like many far-north places, once Thanksgiving arrives, Alaska decorates with lights everywhere. Some places decorate with them earlier than that. They help with the dark nights, making any home or yard a place of winter white beauty. I put up white lights along the small front yard's cedar fence early, usually before the first snows fall in October. They will stay on a timer until some time in March when the days lengthen once again. Right now it starts to get light out around 9:30am and it's dark before 4pm, with the shortest day coming later this month. We need lights up here! I have a string of white lights I put up in the fall that run the length of the barn aisle too, letting off a soft night-light glow for anyone in their stalls for the night. Even the dog kennel has a big lit wreath that sends off a nice night light for them. The glow from the lights reflects in my registered flock's eyes too. Their paddock is out front, closer to the house.........but this also means they are acutely aware of every time someone steps out of the house and the BAAAAAAAHHHHHH at full volume. Just because. They could be standing in hay, doesn't matter, they yell just in case I might have something better than what they're standing in. HA!

On another note, we've had major Gulf of Alaska storms blowing through. The poor Aleutian Chain has been severely blasted. This past Saturday, Attu, waaaaaay out on the chain, recorded some of the nastiest winds ever. They officially clocked 178 MPH - yes, I typed that correctly, one hundred seventy eight miles per hour. Nothing can be out in that kind of wind. Hurricanes have lesser wind speeds. Tornadoes have lesser wind speeds. It's simply incredible that there could be human inhabitants at the Coast Guard base there. My poor sheep would tumble all the way across the island non-stop and on into the ocean with winds like that! But I'll bet they have Christmas Lights up inside there too.....

Christmas Lights. In this time of severe recession, the spending of money on electricity certainly may make us think twice about plugging them in, but the joy they bring and sanity they instill through a dark winter is worth far more than sending raspberries to the local electric company.

I hope you are enjoying your Christmas season......