Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Yet Another : Holiday Season, Month, Year

How quickly the time has gone by, again! My inner mind has worked on many blog postings over the last month, unfortunately, the fingers didn't get the message clicked into this blog. Perhaps next month!

Just to show something has happened during the month of December, I will paste in many of the entries and images from my blog at Wunderground. I have been much better at keeping things up-to-date at that site.

With that said, Happy New Year! Let it all continue!

December Snow Shoe Walk Video with Holiday Tunes
(Filmed on a earlier date, but added here as my holiday and year ending video)

12/31/2008 - A final posting for 2008. Happy New Year to everyone! This last day of December, and of the year, has been a weather filled day in NW Montana. Just cloudy conditions gave way to what I would consider a near blizzard during parts of the morning. The wind has continued blowing, but the snow stopped long enough to plow and shovel. However, as I write this, a new snowy blast is blowing through the ranch, and, in fading daylight, the barn is only slightly visible from the deck. Since it isn't too cold, the horses are spending the day (so far) outside. Maybe we will move them into the barn, just so they don't get lost in the wind and snow!

Video of Morning Animal Check and Walk, and the first Snow Storm of the Day

12/30/2008 - A final morning animal check with the ranch guests, and it was time to catch the train back to Minnesota. Unfortunately, a call to the ranch at about noon, showed them still waiting for the train to arrive from Seattle. (It was about 4 hours late already, and with a 20 hour train ride ahead of them, it may be a long trip back home). Sun through high streaming clouds is making up the weather scene at the ranch today. After the 4"+ of yesterday, this is turning out to be the most snow we've seen here in a number of winters. More is expected to arrive over the next week or so.

The Last Morning Animal Check for the Ranch Guests, a Return to do a Dog Walk and the Daily Ranch Tasks

12/29/2008 - The temperatures cooled down a little and the soft snow and slush of yesterday was replaced with a new snow coating on top of the icy undercoat. The morning walk today was more of a crunch crunch through the crusty snow. Later, another round of horse riding took place for the visitors. Light afternoon snow ended before sunset with a new 3" plus covering everything (including the horses unfortunate enough to not be selected for riding).

Morning Walk with the Dogs, Plus
Morning walk with the dogs

Riding the Wild Tree
Heidi riding the wild horse tree

Afternoon Horse Riding Sessions
Getting Orpheus ready for the ride

Riders in the arena this afternoon

Outdoor Horses Getting Covered with Snow
Harmony and Goldstar getting a covering of new snow

12/28/2008 - Mild and wet today with a rain snow mix in the morning. This changed into mostly rain by mid day. This is really going to wreck the nice powdery snow that has existed for the last week. ... And it did ... The snow slid off of the metal roofs today and we used a combination of the tractor and other equipment to move some piles of snow around. I ended up skipping snowshoeing and skiing and just did the snow cleanup tasks today instead. It was a fine day at the ranch!

Snow Sliding from Workshop Roof
Snow sliding from the workshop roof

Snow Piles after Plowing and Moving Snow
Snow piles after snow removal work today

12/27/2008 - There was another coating of snow for the ranch today. The total on the ground now is in the range of twelve inches, plus. I used the back country cross country skis today to go out to feed the horses for the afternoon snack, and continued the trek around the ranch trails. It was a snowy beautiful day in the upper woods. Late in the afternoon a new snow fall passed through the area covering everybody and everything with a fresh coating of itself.

Quiet Snow Trails in the Upper Woods
Snow trail along the curved tree

Snow Covered Trees along the Upper Trail
Snow covered trees near the upper trail

Taffy with a Snow Coated Muzzle
Taffy drying after romp in the snow

Ski Trail Leading to the Gate
Ski trail near the gate

Returning from Snowshoeing in Heavy Afternoon Snow
Return from snowshoeing with heavy snow falling

Patti and Jonah with Afternoon Snow Falling
Patti and Jonah during afternoon snowfall

Christmas Tree now loaded with the New Snow
Christmas tree on the deck covered in snow

12/26/2008 - The day began with the sun breaking through the morning clouds. As the day continued, so did the sunshine with great conditions for a combination of cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and even some horseback riding. The visiting triplets and my wife visited a neighbor while cross country skiing was enjoyed by others.

Morning Light along the Upper Fence Lines
Morning light along the upper fence line just before sunrise

Morning Sunrise through the Clouds
Sunrise, fence shadows, and snow

Turkeys in the Barnyard
Turkeys roam through the neighbors barnyard

Visiting a Neighbor - Travel by Snowshoe and Horseback
Snowshoe group along with a neighbor who met them on horseback

Kicking Up the Snowshoes
Patti and the triplets kicking up the snowshoes

Patti and the triplets kicking up the snowshoes

Skiing the Woods Trails
Steve rounding the trees from the upper woods

Ginger Resting in the Girls Bed Nest
Ginger in the girls bed resting

Ginger in the girls bed resting

12/25/2008 - Christmas morning began with the regular required ranch tasks of doing the animal checks and the feeding of the horses. Everyone enjoyed a light morning snowfall. The morning was spent inside with some gift exchanges and morning fun. Early in the afternoon, all of the horses were brought into the indoor arena to provide some riding for the visitors. Even Goldstar enjoyed some time with his coat off so he could work out a little. (He is 22, so he doesn't get ridden like all of the others). It was a quiet evening with the outdoor tree providing soft light for the time of resting.

Family at the Fence during Morning Animal Check
Colford family at the fence

Animal Check, Feeding and Photo Session
Andrea, Heidi and Greta pulling out the morning hay sled

Activity at morning animal feeding

Girls Catching Fresh Snowflakes
Andrea, Heidi, and Greta catching snowflakes

Gift Opening during Christmas Morning
Greta opening a Christmas gift

Afternoon Horse Exercise Time
Goldstar with Patti and the triplet visitors

Resting and Reading on Christmas Day
Andrea reading with Titan resting on the couch

Heidi reading with Taffy resting near her

The Christmas Tree Lighting Up the Late Evening
Tree lights the deck on Christmas evening

12/24/2008 - Today was a great day at the ranch. The animals were cared for, and appreciated the food and attention. The later morning and early afternoon was spent enjoying great sun and mild temperatures around the ranch. We did a snowshoe trek along the fence line and the girls enjoyed sledding down the hill. Afterward, we continued the snowshoe walk into the woods and picked out a Christmas tree. It was a wonderful day!

Horses, Out Standing in Their Field
Horses at mid day feeding

Ranch View from the Sledding Hill
Ranch viewed through a snow covered tree

Sledding Down the Pasture Hill
Patti filming the sledders

Carrying the Christmas Tree
Heidi and Daniel carrying the Christmas tree

Showing the Horses the Christmas Tree
Showing the Christmas tree to the horses

Trimming the Christmas Tree
Steve and Heidi trimming the Christmas Tree

12/23/2008 - Clearing conditions overnight resulted in another good drop in temperature. The morning low was in the minus 10 range with a waning crescent moon over the horses at the morning feeding. Clouds moved in during the morning, and the temperatures rose slowly before leveling out at between 10 and 12 degrees in the positive range. Mostly cloudy conditions with just short glances at the sun made up the afternoon. A run up the hill provided some views of the area with the full snow cover that has arrived over the last week.

Decorated for the Holidays
Decorated for the Christmas season

Ranch View from the North Hill
Ranch viewed from the north hill

12/22/2008 - Variable conditions passed through again today with light cloud cover in the early day breaking away into full clear sky for a couple of hours. The mid-day brought in some more clouds and additional light snow.

Harmony Munches Hay at the Morning Feeding
Harmony at the morning feeding

Snow Angel Creation during the Morning Dog Walk
Girls making snow angels during the morning walk
Greta making a snow angel

Full Sunlight for a Taking Ranch Images
Images by Steve
The Snow, the Plow, and the Sky
The snow, the plow, and the sky
Shadow Fence along the Driveway
The shadow fenceline along the driveway
The Tree by the Pond (covered by snow)
The tree by the pond
Sun and Shadows along the Creek Trees
Sun and shadows on the creek trees

The Return of Snow in the Early Afternoon
Image by Steve
Corrie being lead into arena for riding

Harmony, Hoping to be Picked for Riding
Image by Steve
Harmony, with a long face since noone would ride him

Afternoon Riding of the Horses
Image by Steve
Greta, Heidi, and Andrea riding Jonah, Wanita, and Corrie

12/21/2008 - Well, it's a cold one. Just after midnight as I write this, and I notice the LaCrosse sensor came back to life. Showing a minus 21.9 degrees right now. I think that's about the last displayable value, since it was showing OFL (overflow ... er, make that underflow), when the temperature was -22 or colder for a couple of hours. The horses are (happily, I assume) in the barn. However, one of the shared waterers has failed, so we may have to run a couple them out to the old barn (where a stock tank has a working heater in it) for the rest of the night. Either that, or go out to chip ice out of buckets we left for them every couple of hours! ... and way, way, way back in the distance ... Life on the Farm ... do dah, do dah (used before ... but so true)!

Slowly increasing temperatures continued through the day. With the rising temperature came some more falling snow. Light snow continued off and on and resulted in another 2" for the ranch by late evening.

The ranch guests who arrived just after midnight, were allowed to rest before being put to work with ranch chores. A little recreational snow shoeing also took place later in the afternoon, when the chores were completed.

Light Morning Snow
Light morning snow in view south

Ranch Guests, Put to Work for the Daily Chores
Andrea and Heidi pulling the sled during the chores

Afternoon Snowshoe Outing
Snowshoeing along the woods fenceline

The Snowshoe Group
Group photo during the snowshoe outing

12/20/2008 - In a surprise move (at least to the NWS Forecasters) the sky cleared overnight and the temperature dropped, considerably! I will cut the forecasters some slack though, since it is difficult to forecast when elevations vary from 2500' to over 8000' in the forecast area. Even the local area forecast feature (both on-line, and in my own estimate, using the 10 PM dew point as a guide for the overnight low) only came within ten degrees. The temperature sensors all showed a low of at least 20 below zero this morning. The horses were not impressed, as we had told them it was going to stay relatively mild (no colder than 10 below) so they could stay outside for the night! Oh well, from now on we won't tell them how cold we think it will be. The clear sky and bright snow cover made for a gorgeous, if somewhat cool, day today. The evening came fast and cold, this almost shortest daylight period day of the year. Some of the temperature sensors already have gone below their limit (-22 degrees) before 10 PM!

Frosty Face on Corrie this Morning
Corrie with frosty face

Bright Afternoon with New Snow and Full Sun
Sun and snow for a bright day

Ranch Buildings Framed by Pines and Snow
Ranch building across cold blue snow

12/19/2008 - Another light snowfall overnight to add slightly to the depth so far accumulated. It made for a good snow shoe outing, with just the big dogs venturing out with us. With the cold temperatures, stops to clear ice from their pads was needed from time to time. Varying overcast continued for most of the day, but with nearly sunny conditions just at the end of the day.

On the Morning Snowshoe Outing
Daniel on upper trail during snow shoe outing

Late Afternoon Sun Appearance
Sun low in late afternoon

12/18/2008 - The snowfall that began yesterday continued through the night. Morning measurement showed a depth of six to eight inches of snow. For this event, the amount was about five inches. The temperatures are holding at between ten and fifteen degrees today, with falling temperatures expected as the snow ends and sky conditions clear.

Additional Snow for the Walk with the Dogs
Taffy framed by snow covered branches

Snowy Trees along the Upper Trail
Snow covered trees along upper trail

12/17/2008 - The clouds slid in quietly overnight and dropped another offering of snow. This resulting in the lowest temperatures just at midnight, followed by a slow climb to above zero in time for the morning walk with the dogs. There was a valiant attempt by the sun to break through early in the morning, but the thickening clouds persisted, an won control of the day, giving a slow addition of snow as the day continued.

New Snow for the Morning Dog Walk
New light snowfall and the morning walk with the dogs

Morning Attempt for the Sun to Appear
Last of the sun with increasing clouds today

12/16/2008 - A quick passing of clouds during the night brought the early low temperatures of around minus 20 degrees up just a little. Clear conditions again in the morning as the winter sun tries to raise the temperature above zero again ... which it did ... with a high just about hitting 10 above zero! A clear sky this evening hints that another cold night is ahead.

Cold Morning with a View to the South from the Deck
Horses out in cold morning sun and shadows

Last Evening Light on Swan Range to the Northeast
Last sunlight on the Swan Range

12/15/2008 - A mixture of clouds overnight kept the temperature holding around the zero mark. Those clouds began breaking up during the mid morning and by afternoon clear sky and falling temperatures both arrived. The sunshine may keep temperatures steady through the afternoon, but if the clear conditions continue overnight, a forecast low of nearly 20 degrees below zero may be reached. The cold conditions have resulted in some changes to the ranch chores. With a water tank frozen in the winter pasture, the horses have been enjoying the comfort of in the barn protection overnight.

Returning from the Morning Walk
Returning down the west hill after a morning walk with the dogs

Sunny Conditions during the Middle of the Day
Clear sky and sunshine for most of the late morning through the afternoon

Orpheus near Frozen Water Tank
Water frozen by cold temperatures

12/14/2008 - It was a cold start to the day with a low of about minus 15 degrees. The temperature did a nice rise to almost zero by the end of the afternoon. Maybe it was because of some high cloud cover and it probably kept the full heating rays of the sun from having much impact. (The sun's angle, and the reflecting snow didn't help, either). But it was a good day around the ranch and we got the necessary chores done without any problem.

Cold Morning Just before Sunrise
Cool frosty clouds before sunrise

Deck Railing Shadows on the Snow
Deck spindle shadows in the snow

Mid Morning with Frosty Fog Still in the Air
Frosty fog in the air this morning

12/13/2008 - The calm wind conditions changed at about 11:30 PM last night with speeds of 30 mph common overnight. The barometric pressure is on the rise today after hitting a low of about 29.35" late yesterday. Today, the morning horse feeding and dog walk was done in blowing snow conditions. However, the trails in the woods were rather calm compared to the winds blowing while crossing the pastures.

Snow along Woods Trail
Snow covered trees and walking trail

Walking through the New Snow
Patti walking along the trail

Winter Wonderland Dog Walk
Patti with Titan and Taffy

12/12/2008 - Clear start to the day. But, the barometer is falling, overcast is increasing, the forecast icons are starting to blink, and any time someone might blow the klaxon. This could be the start of real winter here in NW Montana! At 4:00 PM it started snowing. The temperature is holding at about 25 degrees and the wind is light or even calm. The snow continued to fall through the evening with a depth of about 3.5" at the last animal check.

Sign of Sleeping Horse
Sleeping horse mark in the ground frost

Sun to Start the Day
Clear for sunrise today

Horse Back Ride for the Kittens
Horse rides for Aggie and Torrie again today

Chores of Gathering the Evening Hay
Pitching hay into the trailer

Horses waiting for Feeding in Light Snowfall
Horses standing waiting for an evening feeding

12/11/2008 - A mostly clear start to the day. Ranch weather has been rather mild ... but, be aware, there is a winter storm watch and a forecast of much colder temperatures in a few days. Meanwhile, it is nice to enjoy the clear dry conditions given to us today.

Mostly Clear Start to the Day
Wispy clouds at sunrise

Sunshine Across the Valley
Clear across the valley to the Swan Range east of here

Swan Range Snowcapped in the Afternoon Sun
View east to the snow capped Swan Range

Fall Color Still in Grass and View to the Ranch
Still a hint of fall color in the grass in a view toward the ranch from the north hill

Full Moon Rising Above the Cloud Bank
Cloud layer in the distance with a full moon rising above it

12/10/2008 - We were out and about early today for the walk with the dogs before sunrise. It's getting to be the time of the year when it stays a bit dark until after 8:00 AM (so, it isn't really that early, after all!). Later in the day, a mix of sun through the clouds melted away the light snow from yesterday.

Morning Dog Walk ... in the Dark
Morning dog walk in the dark

Afternoon Mix of Sun with Clouds Melted the Snow Away
Snow gone after sun cloud mix and a mild day

12/09/2008 - A mostly cloudy day today. A steady snowfall ended the day, coating everything with a new layer of snow. It was already dark outside, so no images were taken (yet ... maybe I'll try some at the final animal check).

Horses Mill around the Morning Hay Area
Horses at morning feeding out in the winter paddock

(Santa, perhaps) Checking on the Rein(snow) Horses Late Tonight
Patti checking Orpheus at last animal check

12/08/2008 - A light snowfall started the day today. The morning dog walk and horse feeding was done during that event. The day continued to be mostly cloudy with just a glimpse of sun through those clouds.

Light Snow During a Dog Walk
Me walking the dogs during a light morning snow

12/07/2008 - There was a bit of rain falling this morning and the snow around the ranch pretty much disappeared. There was a definite snow line though and it was about 200-300 feet higher than the ranch. Meanwhile, in the house, Scamp posed, hoping to become a part of the refrigerator photo collection. I'm not sure this was a good enough pose to make the collection.

Snow Line Above the Horses in the Meadow
Definite snow line apparent on the mountains today

Scamp ... trying Desperately to Make the Fridge Photo Collection
Scamp on the refrigerator

12/06/2008 - Just kind of a damp mild day around the valley today. The morning had a mixture of freezing rain and snow pellets. During the middle of the day the fog continued to hang in the valley. We drove east today, leaving a breaking sunshine to head back into a mixture of the fog with a little light rain that fell closer to the Swan Mountain range.

Fog Banks Above the Tree Line at Mid Day
Mid day fog above the tree line

Fog and Mist along the Swan Mountain Range
Fog and mist along the Swan Mountain range

12/05/2008 - It was a grey/gray kind of winter day today. Good enough to go out for a run to check out the scenes along the route.

Farm Along Running Route ... Now a Wintry Look

12/04/2008 - Clear overnight and morning sky made for a cool start to the day. The creek still continues to work its way through, even if some ice is forming around the edges. Single digits will probably happen again tonight with light cloud cover. There were just enough clouds around at sunset to add some color to the evening sky.

Clear Sky at Morning Sunrise
Sun just over the hills this morning

Creek Running through the Snow
Creek still running with some ice and snow

Evening Clouds Give Sunset Colors
Color in clouds at sunset

12/03/2008 - A bit of sun today over the new snow cover. It is actually only about an inch deep, but it stayed around for the entire day since the temperature stayed below freezing.

Sun Across the Paddock
Sun and shadows over snow in view to the Swan Range

12/02/2008 - Mild start to the day. However, a change was in the wind already after the morning walk. The temperature fell throughout the day and by early afternoon some light snow was falling. An ongoing mix of wind and snow continued through the afternoon giving the ranch a wintry appearance at last.

First Snow Day 2008-2009 Season

12/01/2008 - Cloud cover around the ranch today with a fog bank hanging in the valley. There was just a quick ray or two of sun under the clouds this morning. The temperatures continue to stay above normal with today's cloud cover. Since Marco is no longer around in the barn, Tizzy (one of the other barn cats) has started coming up to the house more often.

Fog Behind Neighboring Farm
Morning fog behind neighboring farm

Billows of Fog in the Distant Valley
Fog boils in the valley above the tree line

Tizzy Asking: 'Does this coat make me look fat?'
Tizzy in full winter coat