On Saturday winter gave notice that she is still on the way, despite the long indian summer that has left the apple trees still green and the hollyhocks that border the driveway sending up new spires of buds. Friday afternoon had been spent in the pleasure of delivering some breeding fowl to the local small animal auction, where the lovely Appleyards, Pekins and Cayugas drew admiring interest from the early-comers, followed by dinner at our favorite little Mexican dive and a browse through the local thrift store; a pleasant evening, but utterly disregardful of the storm front advancing on us from the southeast.
By six-thirty a.m. Saturday the front was dragging its leading edge over Flushing and bearing down on us at about 25 mph. We had people in the garden before breakfast hammering in anchors for the high tunnel and dropping more sandbags on the cover margins. As we hammered in the next to the last anchor the wind got up with the sound of surf over the ridge, and a sudden migration of leaves enough to fill the whole valley. We parceled out winterizing chores over the eggs and potatoes. It was 54 degrees on the front porch at seven thirty-five.
Thank God for family. Temperatures dropped steadily; the wind kept rising. Thin rain just pearled our jackets at first, then, gradually shifting to snow, left our hands cold and awkward. Nevertheless, we got’er done by ten-fifteen with everyone helping. (Full disclosure: there are seven us home right now). Eleven rain tanks emptied — total volume: 3600 gallons — and hoses drained. Large stock tanks set up in four paddocks/pens for daily refilling. Bell waterers and nipple bars for the poultry switched out for water pans that won’t break if they freeze. Three paddocks reconfigured to include access to the treeline. Extra bedding forked to the pigs in the barn.
We suppose it is natural that last minute winterizing should always happen at, well, the last minute. Up through about eight-thirty on Saturday morning the weather was smiling, temperatures moderate; Friday’s high was over seventy degrees. Who wants to hunker down until the last minute?
Even the fourteen goldfish which spent the summer eating mosquito larvae in our IBC’s are now in winter quarters in the duck pond, where, if they can evade the fond intimacies of eight Appleyards, they will grow fat by spring and tempt passing herons to pause here on their way to northern nesting grounds.