On the downsides of a mild winter

Occupational hazard:  a farm girl’s glasses will fog when she goes from 40 outside to 85 in

I don’t know about you, but I have found this mild winter very enjoyable.  Perhaps it’s the memory of those long winters spent in Minnesota.   Every Minnesotan has “I lived through the cold” stories, but I don’t know many people who had to get their car’s manual transmission gear fluid changed:  despite its being garage-kept, I couldn’t get it in reverse or first gear when the cold was in extremis.  So I humbly accept any day the mercury doesn’t go below 30 with gratitude.

This weather has come with unexpected downsides, though.  One, the animals are just messed up.  Chickens want to sit their many eggs.  Earl the tom turkey is feeling love in the air, so Ruby spends her days hiding from him under the back deck’s picnic table.  (Luckily, the hose remains unfrozen so I am able to clean up after her, but I do feel her pain.)  The fuzzy goats are happy to be outside, but that’s mud between their hooves…not pleasant.  And here in the Fruit Belt there is gloomy talk that fruit won’t set without the usual extended hard frosts of normal winter.

It’s also had an unexpected downside for the resident gardener.  That spring panic that normally hits in April?  You know, when you can’t seem to finish any one project because they all beckon?  It’s here now, in February.  Sigh.

Gratuitous photo #1:  new kitten Blossom

Gratuitous photo #2:  Blossom’s sister Scarlett enjoys the front porch’s space heater

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10 responses to “On the downsides of a mild winter

  1. I’ve noticed the birds singing courtship songs, seems so early! I’m trying to enjoy the milder weather, but am missing the snow. Also a wee bit worried that to catch up to normal precipitation levels we may get it all at once–in APRIL!

  2. We are already worrying about serious drought. This climate change, while providing enjoyable February days, is seriously bad for gardeners.

  3. I planted garlic outside today and started numerous seeds indoors yesterday. After putting the rest of the other 20 birds in the freezer this fall, the final three Freedom Rangers are each laying an egg a day and we are all enjoying the mild winter. It feels good not to be cold through and through. Question: Would you consider feeding the meat birds layers ration now, or just stay with the usual pellets? This is my first flock! Thanks.

    • They’re fully grown if they’re laying, Liz, so I would just have them on layer rations. No need to make them fat too, right? That grower stuff is I swear the equivalent of protein shakes and a high carb diet for us. I’ve found it best to keep the meat birds on that until they’re slaughtering size. But my turkeys, guineas, meat roosters AND regular eggy girls all do fine on layer crumbles, scratch and “house treats.”

      I do agree with you though about not being a popsicle this time of year. I always look ridiculous with all my layers on but this year I have felt I could remove ONE layer, hah!

      • Thanks for the info, they barely eat their pellets since they free range all day but I like to have some available in case they need a snack when they are in their coop. I’ll buy layers ration next time.

  4. Stripey kitties are the best! And russet noses are extra-super-special.

    We’ve had the same sort of weather so far, and it really creeps me out. I miss the snow and the chance to freeze bottles of water on the porch. It’s still February, so we could still get hammered. We’ll see…

  5. Usually I am enthusiastic about winter weather, but I am totally grateful for this mild weather, as one of my horses is recovering from a pneumonia.
    On the downside, I have taken on the role of Mother Superior with a pair of amorous mourning doves. You know I’ll be moving that nest into the shop if she lays eggs. Like people don’t already think I’m nutty.

  6. Oh! You HAD to throw in the cute kitten photos, didn’t you! (LOVE the first, close up is sweet!)

    Mild winters here mean more, bigger, meaner bugs with bigger teeth, because they didn’t die over winter. The no-seeums are spectacular already. I can’t wait for the mosquitoes. (snark)

  7. I’ve noticed spring is in the air with my turkeys as well. Well, with him anyway and she wants nothing to do with him at all. When that happens he finds a big dirt mound and carries on like it’s her. Teenage boys!

  8. I miss the snow too, Sara, except when I need to take the goat to the vet in the back of my hatchback in a blizzard. We seem to have fallen back into winter, you know, normal winter here when we get an inch or two nightly, which simply makes things pretty and fresh. The birds are singing here too and it is nice, but strange…still tons of juncos around so it’s still “winter.”

    Stefani, do you happen to have rainwater cachment as well as your great irrigation system? Even I try to catch rain and melting snow, and we tend to range toward too much precip, not too little. I hope things even out for you.

    Liz, glad I could help. My girls were always fussy about pellets so that’s why I always purchased crumbles, but of course they prefer anything else to their purchased food. A good thing, I guess…

    Hiya Kate! Yeah, tabbies rock. These two are such sweet personable beasts as well. And of course they’re hardly ever still so I am kind of surprised I got these photos at all. And yeah this winter still has some time on the clock so I suppose all could rectify itself…

    Pamela, *I* don’t think you’re nutty. Does that count?

    Jules, do you have blister beetles by you? I have a Kansas gardener friend who “enjoys” their annual visits, ugh. Good luck with the bugs though.

    Annette, so true, so wise, those hen turkeys. My hen Ruby always starts to lay by the end of March and those babies hatch almost always on Mother’s Day, so if the sun is any guide (and you’re north of me by a bit) then that’s probably when your girl will start returning his affections…or at least enduring them, as Ruby always appears to do. As long as the eggs are 1. found and 2. she’s laid them in a safe place with no tom turkey trodding them then she’ll be a great mom.

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