Winter comes to New England, slowly

Despite the Halloween snowstorm, this winter has been pretty mild. Not so this morning; our thermometer read 6 degrees at 8 a.m., and by 2 p.m. it had climbed only to 13. Even Koa, who lies on the kitchen steps regardless of temperature, decided it was too cold for her. Rebecca, seeing the sunshine, repeatedly insisted on going out, only to immediately press her face against the glass door to be let back in, returning to her place by the woodstove.

Like Koa, the chickens have seemed impervious to the cold until now. At night they fluff up their feathers, almost doubling their size and insulating their bodies with built-in down. Today Cherisse noticed that they kept drawing a foot into their feathers for a bit, alternating their feet to warm them.

Chicken muff
(This reminded Cherisse of the muffs the football players were wearing last night…I kept wondering what the “fanny packs” were, until Tom Brady put his hands in one.) Only Featherfoot appeared comfortable today—finally his feathered feet make sense.

The river has more water than usual this time of year, especially after the downpour we had last Thursday. Usually, the water flows beneath a layer of ice and snow, but the warmer temperatures and heavy volume have kept it moving briskly. Today there was finally a thick crust of ice along the sides. River in winter

By tomorrow, however, the temperatures will rise again. The freezing and thawing isn’t good for the garden—perennials can get pushed up in the heaving, or their roots can become exposed. I noticed a bit of green from the hyacinth bulbs…I’m hoping they go back into hibernation until spring. Last winter snow blanketed the gardens for the entire season, providing a protective insulation. This year I need to intervene. I plan to cut up our Christmas tree (when we finally take it down) and spread the boughs over the garden. There won’t be enough to cover sufficiently, so some day when the leaves are not frozen in clumps I would be smart to rake those over the garden as well. And then maybe we’ll finally get snow.

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