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December weather has not been ‘normal’. But what is normal anymore? Normally there would be lots of precipitation, mostly snow, and fairly mild temperatures. There was early snow and then it just got cold with a thick inversion that kept the sunshine away for the most part. The snow on the ground has begun to lose its moisture and shrink.

Lucky me, I went away for nine days to sunny Arizona and while it wasn’t particularly warm most of the time, it was pleasant for the most part. Today was the first day back so the dogs and I got out a couple of times to see what had changed while I was away. Not much. It’s not a colorful world.

Photos from Arizona will show up here in a day or two.

And there’s another month gone by.

Here it is February already – more than a month into the new year. Time goes by so quickly. I made lots of images last month and finally got around to editing them.

We continue to get lots of snow and it is deep and perfect for winter activities. Ken’s brother stayed for a few days and tried his AT gear and his snowboard on the hill above us. It really made me want to get some back country skis.

Some days have had snow falling all day long and others have been brilliantly sunny. The frost and icicles have been amazing. Of course, we’ve had our share of shoveling. A friend gifted us his used snowblower and it was just in time. We were nearly overwhelmed with the amount of work. And then we had to have a big front loader come in and move the big berms left by the plow guy.

Here is a sampling of images from around our hillside.

After two years of lower than average snowfall, this season we are happy to see lots of snow on the ground with more on the way. We rang in the New Year with below zero temperatures and clear skies and glimpses of northern lights. I enjoyed time with our friends and did not try to get photos on that frigid night!

The skiing on groomed trails is wonderful and up until this week, skiing in the hills and backcountry has been marvelous! It made me wish I had some more rugged skis with skins for climbing the hills. A few days ago the temperature warmed over thirty degrees and it felt downright balmy at 34° Fahrenheit.  Of course, that sort of ruined the two feet of powder snow, leaving a one inch crust on top of it. It makes it very hard to get around once you are off the beaten path. Even for dogs but Sky seems to manage.

Speaking of dogs, Luna had to have surgery last week to remove a cracked tooth and an unusual growth on her side. The growth is benign so we can quit worrying about that. Whew. She has had to be less active and is missing her dog friends and skiing at Big Valley but the stitches need to time to heal. Hopefully in another week or so she can resume her regular fun activities.

Winters can be hard on the native birds so we put out black oil sunflower seeds, nyger seeds and suet for the songbirds. That also attracts raptors like hawks and kestrels who might try to take advantage of the situation. We figure that they all need to eat and are happy to see the diversity of species.

Yesterday was another long day of falling snow. I managed to do some shoveling when it slowed down just before dark. Today was the real shovel day though. I even had to go down to the bottom of the hill and dig out our mailbox. While we appreciate the hardworking folks that plow our road and driveway, we wish they’d take a little bit of care with the mailbox. Also dug out the porch, the paths and the snow that fell from the shop roof, leaving just a narrow walkway to get to the shop and greenhouse. Who needs a gym with all this snow? Luna and I enjoyed a slow walk too.

 

Even though we use this path almost daily, it nearly disapeared with the recent snow

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The lumps are bitterbrush that the mule deer need to reach for winter forage

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Interesting shapes in the snow

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And what’s this tiny thing?

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Luna is tired out walking on the trail. She no longer leaps and plays in the soft snow.

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Serviceberry

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Snow weighs heavily on branches

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The top of the middle tree broke off yesterday

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There is its top, covered by last night’s plowing

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This tree has us worried. It is leaning over our road.

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There’s two of them

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Chickdees and finches take refuge in a cottonwood

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Snow weighs heavily on the fiber. It vibrates with the weight.

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Lots of icicles

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Almost a surreal scene

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And framed by icicles

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