It is still winter in Montana and will be at our house for months to come. We have had some serious early thaws recently as we will here every year about this time. Today it had melted enough of the snow away that it was a perfect day to open the chicken run and let the ladies out today for some free-range time.
Though it doesn’t look like much the chickens were out there eating the shoots of new grass that the melted snow provided. My chickens can be an industriousness bunch when it comes to good fresh food after the snow hiding “good eats” and being on commercial chow for a few months.
Let’s hold onto the memory of this day with sunshine and blue skies as we enter a week that is suppose to be full of show again. The snow is happening less frequently and days like this are happening more often. There is hope for spring, no matter how far away.
Yesterday was the first day of winter. It is the shortest day of the year , if we are talking sunshine. I went to work in the dark and after working all day I headed home in the dark. In spite of all the darkness when I got to work I found beauty in the local homes blanketed by the snow illuminated by the glow of street lights.I just had to capture what I saw and share it with you.
Growing up in the Midwest the return of the robin was always a harbinger of spring. Here in southwest Montana a kind of sparrow like bird is always the first to return in the spring is. Following the sparrow like bird a week or so later is the bluebird. Finally there is the the meadowlark who is the last of the migrating birds to return.
I first noticed the sparrow like birds early last week. When hanging my first clothes out I could clearly hear them calling out to one another about the bounty or lack of bounty they were finding here in Montana. They were gathering and flitting about in the pastures around the house. They always seem to be on the move and just far enough away that I never capture them well with a camera.
Mountain bluebird in the snow. Taken by Betty Holling.
Monday I saw my first bluebird. I haven’t seen another one yet, but I am sure more of them will be arriving soon. Once the males have mostly arrived and check out the digs we have on the fence posts, the females won’t be far behind. We have a series of blue bird houses on our fence posts and love to watch them each year.
I looked at my blog to see when I wrote about the bluebird last time and see I saw this fella almost two weeks earlier this year. Last time we had a major snow storm with six inches just after my first bluebird arrived. This year we have woken up to snow already twice this week. It always make me think about hearty and resilient these little guys are. How far they go to return here each spring and how the weather doesn’t stop them. It is how we should all look at the setbacks we have once we get spring fever. March on it will get better.
Either you love clothes on the line or you don’t. The most common reason I have heard for not liking clothes on the line is they are not drier fluffy. On the opposite side of the argument is that no one has managed to actually capture the smell of sunshine and outdoors that you can only get with clothes hung on the line in any of those bottled smells for laundry soap or drier sheets. I fall into the camp that the smell of line-dried clothes trumps everything else.
This week it was finally warm enough to put towels out on the line. We always have a breeze and most the time have some serious wind so even though it wasn’t much above 40 my towels were soon dry. Though the first day of spring is till a couple weeks away and yes there is still snow on the frozen ground, I am not letting that stop me with celebrating a nice day with laundry on the line.
We are having a warm streak here in southwestern Montana. This winter we had an unusual amount of drifting that had to be removed from the road by a front-loader to make it passable. Hence monster piles of snow currently sit alongside the road. This is now all melting. It is causing mud season to arrive early and in full force.
Once you turn off the frontage road, you best have your 4-wheel-drive engaged because you are never going to make it here without. Yesterday the UPS driver arrived with a package and now our driveway is one huge rutted mess. Today the propane delivery man decided to not even enter the drive, but stopped on the road and pulled the hose for yards to the tank behind the garage. Smart man.
We are praying for dry weather, lots of sun and lots of wind so that this soon becomes more than a sink hole of mud.
We were out walking in the winter and came across this sign warning about bears. It made me laugh a little bit because before I moved to Montana I wasn’t as aware of my surroundings as I am here. Anytime I am out I think about what wildlife I might encounter based on the time of year, where I am at and the ecosystem. While it is early for bears to be out, I am wondering with the warm spell called for next week, what might change and could that early hungry bear be out there looking for an easy meal soon.
My flowers were blooming the day before and now they look sad covered in snow because winter is here for the duration.
Fall lasted what seemed to be unusually long this year in southwest Montana. The days were warmer and the sun brighter in late October than I remembered in years past. Then the calendar flip to November and suddenly we had two back to back snow events, leaving a thick covering on the ground. We still have a blanket of snow in our yard and they are calling for another snow event tonight. Fall was gone in a flash and winter is here to stay.