Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ice Fences

Ice fences won't hold in the sheep, but they are a phenomena of nature and beautiful to behold. January was an unusual month for weather on the farm, with bright, sunny days and freezing temperatures. I think we mentioned choosing the Coast Range of Oregon because of its temperate rainforest and mild winters? Hmmm. But, this year we had ice fences every afternoon. So many I had to photograph a few just to remember them when summer comes.

The skies have been clear blue, a welcome change from rainy gray. The stars at night have been so bright in the cold air, it's easy to catch a falling star with only the tip of the head and a minute of time. I have kept the blankets on the horses during the days and the heated electric coils on the outside faucets so the pipes won't freeze at the barn. Sure, we have a creek running through the property for the animals to drink, but the horses seem to prefer the water tank, and it seems good to have two sources of water for the animals, don't know why.

Usually, January is a time of power outages and aggravation. Snow and ice take on a more manageable perspective when the sun is out and it is obvious the ground is probably slippery, not just wet. I bet most folks in other (colder) parts of this country would not agree, but for western Oregon, this, like the ice fences, is a phenomenon to be appreciated for now.

Even if the rains come back, which they will, and the ice fences are replaced with the cedar split rails that have stood sentinel around the orchard since the original homesteaders lived here (sounds dramatic, but the place was only homesteaded in 1895), I have the digital photos to prove this January was like no other we've seen (also not dramatic- we may only be the third owners but we have only been here for 6 years!).

The only animals getting past my fencing at the moment are the chickens, ice fences notwithstanding. I think the rascals are actually scooting under the garden gate leading into the chicken yard. Not satisfied with close to a half acre of bugs in the garden, they are squeezing under our main gate, free now to wander the entire farm in search of even better bugs. I don't half mind as long as they are scarfing up baby slugs and fertilizing my perennial beds hidden under piles of autumn leaves. For this, I can even ignore the leaf litter scratched all over the green lawn. It's a chicken thing.

What's too bad, on reflection, is that I never got a shot of a chicken looking as if it were perched on one of my ice fences. Now, that would have been something to show the grand kids!

Photos: ice fences in January

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