So how about this snow right!?

After getting away with a crazy warm winter, in which we were starting to get bud swell on the fruit trees in late January, this happened.

Temp Miles Away Farm Jan/Feb 2019

Yeah, that’s right. Even though the official low on the Airport Walla Walla weather station said 11,  we had a low of -2 on our on property weather station (AcuRite 5 in 1) on February 7th. (We’re officially zone 7a, which is a minimum average temp of 0 to 5.) As low as I’ve seen it get here. And probably a sign that my almond trees, fig trees and persimmon trees are toast, or at least killed back to the ground. The snow insulated the ground, but not the above ground parts. If you roll the dice, eventually it comes up snake eyes. Nice to have an on site confirmation of what we’ve always known, which is that our property tends to run 5 to 10 degrees colder than in town.

Snow. Cold. More snow. More cold. And it’s not supposed to let up all month. As always, this kind of weather adds additional challenges when you have animals. Keeping everyone watered and fed and not going slowly stir crazy is always fun. Cats, who normally spend at least part of the day outside, have been chasing each other around the house and getting into mischief. But mostly acting like heat seeking missiles.

Snow on outdoor table

New weather station in the background.

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Rose hips with snow

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Charlie is handling the snow just fine.

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Our rams were introduced to our ewes on September 16th. And on February 13th, our first lamb was born, a strong single who surprised me when I went out to feed last night (I wasn’t expecting babies until Friday or Saturday). So I scrambled to get a heat lamp set up in one of our old horse stalls, and spread some additional bedding down as well. But honestly, we raise this breed because they are SO hardy. Baby was fine this morning, even though our low last night was 24 degrees! Note: we intended to not have babies until the first of March, but things happen.

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Haven’t checked the sex yet, but mama is doing a good job of looking after her little one, and I saw it get a good long drink last night when I went to herd them into the stalls and not out in the field in the snow (new mama’s tend to want to be alone for a few days after giving birth).

Meanwhile, I’m taking inventory of garden seed and ordering new varieties. For all my emphasis on downsizing what I’m growing next year, it did not stop me from ordering plenty of new pepper, onion and tomato varieties. I’m on the search for the best open pollinated yellow storage onion so I can start saving seed and selecting specifially for our climate.  I’ll be trying some new cherry tomatoes this year that are less prone to splitting (love you sun gold, but dang), and lots of new peppers, because, peppers.

New pepper varieties include cascebel (weirdly hard to find seed given that I see them mentioned in recipes occasionally), fish (medium hot), hidalgo serrano (hot), pepperoncini (for pickling), Wenk’s yellow (for pickling), Zapotec jalapeno, lunchbox (small sweet snacking peppers), Feher Ozon and Nora paprika, and Sheepnose pimento, along with my old tried and true regulars, including the NuMex Joe Parker (a Hatch style chili).

Along with garden planning, catching up on a few soap kitchen tasks (spring florals coming soon), and a year’s worth of bookkeeping (yea January) a good portion of my time has gone toward the Walla Walla Valley Food System Coalition work happening here in the Walla Walla Valley. We had a great workshop on Tuesday, which was surprisingly well attended given the terrible weather (we had several speakers cancel becasue they couldn’t get to town).

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Ignore my watermark. This photo was actually taken by Jeff Mathias from Blue Mountain Action Council Food Bank.

If you are interested in learning more about this important work, which is currently focused on starting a Food Hub in the Walla Walla Valley, visit our website, WWVFSC.org, to learn more.

Edit because I forget to add this great picture.

Meanwhile, the great horned owls don’t care about no stinkin’ snow. This one sat on this branch and hooted for most of the day a few days ago. We hear them at night all the time this time of year, but don’t normally see them during the day. I kept hearing it, so finally went to look, and was surprised to find it on a fairly low branch in one of our willows. It gave me that slow eye roll look down, like, “Sigh. You again? Whatever. Have you seen my mate?” They are so very very cool.

IMG_20190201_112533watermarkNow, if I can only find time to start working through my frozen fruit to get a jump start on jam season!

© 2019 Miles Away Farm, where we’ve been enjoying haveing enough time to think about the bigger picture, cuddle with kitties, and binge watch the latest season of the Expanse.