Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Routine Running Routes Return

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

After the long run outing of a couple of days ago, it was back into a routine running route mode today. The ongoing truck traffic was rolling bright and early today. And, even with a wild weather day that started with snow pellets turning into just snow, the 18+ wheelers continued to take up the main road. The decision to do a 'routine running route' today was therefore, pretty easy: "The Woods Trail" to somewhere that would add up to a six-miler. I had just done the Summit run last, last week, so I ran down the Danielson down-hill instead of going uphill to the Summit summit. It was quite nice with the wind at my back and sunshine off-and-on on my face. Last week, one of the alternate day bike rides had taken us (my wife bikes with me ... she isn't crazy enough to train for and run marathons, though) was down to the bike trail and taking a road that intersects with the trail to do a loop of Smith Lake on Smith Lake Road (of all names). The biking loop was actually between fifteen and sixteen miles. Since I only needed a six-miler to fill my log ticket for today, I knew I wouldn't run the full route and decided to just head out toward Smith Lake Road and turnaround when I reached the six-miler mid-point.
Shortly after I got to the bike trail, I jogged passed the new fire station. As I ran on, the increasing tailwind and decreasing sunlight on my face, should have been a clue for me, but no, it was the turnaround that brought the nasty reality slap. The hills and mountains to the south and west and all of the directions I needed to go to head back to the ranch were all pretty much obscured by a suspicious white cloudiness that was definitely not warm sunlight. Small white pellets were bouncing off of my sunglasses (like I needed them as protection from too bright a condition anymore). But, I did need the safety glasses in any case! Luckily, I was wearing a windbreaker and hadn't dashed away from the mostly sunny ranch wearing just a singlet today! I pulled the sleeves of the windbreaker down as far over my hands as I could pull them. It was still pretty cold. It was also a bit disconcerting to look to the north and east and see sunlight on the hills north of my usual main running road (an option I might have selected if the trucks would not have been rolling today!). Gusts of wind along with bursts of snow pellets continued until I was heading into the last stretch of Managhan Lane. Finally, the pellets stopped (but the wind did not) as I finished the 'home stretch' on Danielson Road. I planned to end the run just at the bottom of the hill as I did a week or so ago when I returned on this route. And, like that trek, I hiked in through the neighboring farm. There was a machine there I had taken s picture of last time that I wanted to see again. The sun had returned as a welcome replacement to the snow pellets. Also, since the farm is close to the woods, the wind was not as apparent.
I decided to walk through the unoccupied farm and take some photographs of the buildings that have often been in my 'daily walk' photos. There was also some additional farm equipment that I took pictures of. It was both interesting, and sad, to see what can happen to a farm when the live beings are not longer around to take care of it. I even found a dead animal among the buildings and equipment. I walked the rest of the way back to the ranch, thankful for my live being status and for the opportunity I have to care my ranch.

Oh, and let the running log show a good routine run route six-miler (if somewhat cold at times).

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hills in All Directions ... Up and Down I Run (or Walk)

Sunday, March 28, 2010
High Ho, High Ho ... Over the Hill I Go!

At least one run a week now is a break from the standard run of the week and is the longest run. Today, my training plan called for a ten-miler. I haven't been up and over the pass toward Ashley Lake since last year's training runs. So, today, it was up Batavia Lane / Ashley Lake Road route over the pass (about a 1000' elevation change). As has been the case for most of my runs this year, I did some walking for the uphill sections.
I almost felt like drafting a couple of horses to help me while I was climbing the hill. During the run, and especially during the walking portions I noticed there were fewer cans and bottles along the road than were around last year (I picked up 8 bags full last year). I did gather up some into a couple of three-per-pile groups for a possible later gathering.
Something new on this route since last year was a new access road going up into the wood. I might have to try that on a later run. I alternated walking and jogging as I crossed over the pass just after the Garrison Inn.

The downhill road in the areas just after the pass gave the first views this year of still frozen Ashley Lake.

I ran a downhill section after the pass until a turnaround point where some underground power junction has some boxes along the side of the road. After the turnaround, I walked for some of the uphill back to the pass. After that, it was a good run all of the way down the hills and back to the ranch.
(With just a quick stop to say hello to and take a picture of Pepper. Let the running log show a good 10.46 miler completed!

Friday, March 26, 2010
Again, Running for the summit, through the Summit Gate

Running out and back routes always means there is some uphill and downhill during the run, but when the run is over, all is in balance.
Today's run started with a walk up the woods trail as part of a dog walk. Patti and the dogs continued on the woods upper trail, while I headed out on the Dawson Trail road. I was undecided on the miles I wanted to run, so I just turned on Danielson Road to head out on the Summit route. Just after I completed the first mile, I stopped and talked to a neighbor at her place for a few minutes. After the chat I continued running up the road. This is when I decided to just do a five mile total. I stopped again, just briefly, to photograph some more old farm equipment that is along the road.
With all of the rest stops over for this training run I continued through the Summit Prep gates and up the hill. I did walk some on the uphill but with the extra rest stops I had taken, I decided to extend my mileage a bit further at the "T" where I had turned around on my previous trip up this route. It was high enough in this area that the road was wet with melting snow along the road. I turned around without quite going to the summit again. Just as I turned around I noticed a rock ridge to the north, not far from the road. Since I didn't want to take the time for exploring today,the rock ledge will be something to hike to during a later summit run. The run down the hill was without any rest or photo opportunity stops.

The running log for the day was just over five miles. It was another nicely balanced training run.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Group a Couple of Runs to Average things Out

Wednesday, March 24, 2010
A Sunny and Cool Standard Six-Miler Stint

I decided to brave the truck traffic and head up the blacktop to Sherman Road. It was just a mile on the blacktop, and during that time eight trucks went by (during about 12 minutes of time). I only had to take to the ditch once as most of the time the drivers move over for me. It is just when there are vehicles in both directions at the same point that some problems arise. The turn onto Sherman Road was a welcome one.Today, I was early enough that the gravel was quite firm with frost. Plus, a bit of drying is taking place and I did not have to run with four-pound mud shoes during the 4-miles on the gravel. It was a good run up and down the hill with just an occasional slow down for photo opportunities. Carr's calves, were all lying in one location along the road, so they scored another photo today. Also, one of the mailboxes caught my attention and merited a click. All was well back down the blacktop with no truck VS truck or truck VS runner problems for the blacktop-mile back to the ranch.

Monday, March 22, 2010
How Far Can You Run when your Battery Dies?

Even before I got out on the road, I was beginning to think this was a medieval kind of day (I should probably have done the Castle Route again today!). I felt like I was a drag-on. Back into the work week, so, the semi-gravel trucks were running on the main road. Avoidance of conflict in my mind, I decided to go up the trail hill to do the back-roads run. I went down the Danielson Road hill and took Managhan to Highway 2. After crossing the highway, I headed west, young man or not! (Not!). Weather-wise, today was a mixed weather day, too. Some sun, but not much. As I ran down on the bike trail, snow showers and virga streams lined the hills in all directions. The run/jog continued on as I was planning to do a six-miler for today. At about 2.5 miles on the GPS the signal was dropped when the battery died. I then decided just to keep heading out the bike trail until the Cottage Inn restaurant near Kila.

It looked a lot closer than it was, and when I turned around, my trip timer showed more than 50 minutes had already expired. (A six miler should take only about 70 to 75 minutes, even on a slow day). But, it looked like I was going to be doing a longer run for today. Granted, since I was feeling tired I did a mix of jogging and walking. On the way back, instead of climbing the hill on Danielson Road, I decided to cut through a farm at the bottom of the hill. This farm has not had anyone working it for the last couple of years (since the owner died). It is interesting what you can see when crossing unfamiliar ground. I came across this machine and wonder what it did when it worked. (I couldn't tell what it was, but it was quite and interesting looking collection of gears and such). I finished the run/jog/walk by crossing through the fence between the old farm and the ranch and walked across the winter pasture back home. In summary ... It was a fair run/walk combo. Just a little slow. I would estimate the total was actually 7.5 miles. (I'll have to measure it on another outing).

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring into a Run and Make it an Eight!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

It took a while to get into the running frame of mind today. And so, by the time I started, it was already Spring (11:32 MDT today, I think). I did not feel much like running and actually walked the first 100 yards or so as I started up the hill. I am trying to stick with my training plan, and that called for an 8-mile run, either today or tomorrow. Since I didn't want to count on the weather being as nice tomorrow as it was today, I decided to 'go for the eight'!). After having trucks running up the blacktop for most of the week, today, the highway was quiet, so up the blacktop I went! I have a 'standard' route that I know is pretty close to 8 miles, so that was the plan today. This meant the first mile would be on the tar and then uphill for three miles to the Lupine Meadows gate. Since the overnight temperature had gone down to the middle teens, the gravel road was still pretty nicely frozen for the uphill run. The elevation change for this run is almost 1000 feet, and most of it is during the three mile gravel uphill climb. I managed to run/jog most of the way until the three plus mile mark. I walked and jogged alternately for the last mile up the hill. The temperature at the gate was probably about 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the rest of the route. Snow was still fairly deep along the sides of the road and the last half mile or so doesn't get much direct sunlight until during the afternoon.

After the turnaround at the gate, I ran the downhill section until the Carr ranch. There, I talked with Mr. Carr for a bit of time to catch up on the events of the winter. After the chat, I continued the run down the hill and back to the ranch. I did notice that someone must have done a 'can pickup' since the last time I ran the last mile. (I only noticed about 10-15 cans and bottles during the last mile this time, whereas, last run I counted 76). Way to go can pickers! And, after all was said and done, I can add the first 8-miler to my marathon training logbook for this season!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Run Up the Hill almost to the Summit

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A mixed cloud and sun day with nice temperatures for a run to The Summit. (And, almost to the summit of the hill, too: I turned around at the 2.5 mile mark, so I didn't quite reach the top of the hill). The trucks continue to run up and down the blacktop, and I am tired of jumping off the road into the ditch every couple of minutes. So, today, I headed up the trail to the back roads that lead to The Summit. Like most of the roads in this area, the route today was a rolling combination of hills.

It was primarily uphill on the way to 'The Summit' (go figure?) and I walked about three-fourths of a mile during the steepest part of the hill climb.

Seems like the years of running are slowing down the hill climbing equipment! Thankfully, like many of the routes that are uphill on the way out, it makes for a nice downhill return trip.

The ice was gone from Dawson Trail, but the woods trail still has a good amount of packed snow and ice on it. I finished with a slow jog through the woods and down the trail back to the ranch. Check another 5-miler off of the training plan.

2010 Training Log (as of March 18, 2010)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Creek is Running and so am I

Tuesday, March 16, 2010
The trucks continue to run up and down Batavia, and I did too, today. I wanted to just do a standard 5-miler, and the easiest way of doing that was by heading down to the bike trail and doing the Batavia to Trail to Managhan Lane, loop. For the most part, the truck drivers are pretty conscious of me as I run. Today, as one truck was coming up the road toward me and another was coming down behind me, the truck coming up the hill actually slowed to nearly a stop. I had jogged off of the blacktop into the ditch to clear the roadway, but, it was nice to see that the driver had actually noticed me, too. The run was fairly good ... just a little slow. I crossed the Ashley Creek bridges, and the water going under seemed a little slow too. This time of year, just as the snow is/has melted, the creek would normally be running fast and deep. Less snow-pack and the overall dryness of the late winter is resulting in a low flow in most creeks and rivers. It would be nice to get some rainfall (as long as it falls on the days when I don't have a run planned!) As I finished my run today, my wife was jogging down to meet me. It was a nice way to end a run!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Run in the Sun is Fun and Cool

Sunday, March 14, 2010
The sky was clear through the night and all day today. It stayed somewhat cool but it was just right for the running workout. Today, I headed for the Kienas route again. The clear sky gave great views northeast to the peaks of Glacier National Park. This is already the third time up that road, but, the other two were during the 4-milers. Today was a six-miler. This meant new territory for the third mile of the run. At the previous turnaround point, the road curves to the left and changes from blacktop to gravel.
With the drying conditions of the last week or so, the road was dry and a good running route. Like the rest of Kienas Road, this section is a rolling variety with a strong uphill at the new turnaround point. (I'll get to give that a try when the daily run distance increases again!). The return run was good with the longest parts of it being downhill running! Chalk up the first six-miler for this training season!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Castles, and Drag-on Running Days

Saturday, March, 13, 2010
Chores and assorted tasks kept me from doing the run until during the middle afternoon. In addition, the sand trucks had been running for most of the day and made a run on the blacktop a little crowded. When I finally hit the road, at just after 3 PM, the trucks had quit for the day. I decided to run down to Kienas Road and modify my route again by running the 'Castle View' route to the trail. This is a rolling hill stretch of gravel road between Kienas Road and Highway 2 (it is also known as Marquardt Lane). The Castle View name comes from a stone castle that is along the road.

This is quite an interesting structure and I need to find out more about it. Apparently, it was built stone by stone and by appearance, with no real architectural plan. (Someday, I would like an on-site tour of the castle. I think it would be extremely interesting to see what it is like "close-up"). Today, I just jogged by it and took some photos in the process. The run/jog/walk today turned out to be a bit tiring for me (even though it was less than the 5-miler I had on my training plan). I walked portions of it during the last couple of miles. Overall, it was a good training day. Today, I also needed to fill in some of my workout plan with an indoor biking session and some sit-ups and push-ups. I guess that was why I was a bit tired during the run. But, after it was all done, I felt good in that I have kept pretty close to my training routine.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Run to the Trail and Back to the Longhorn(s)

Thursday, March 11, 2010
I decided to do a downhill start today so I headed down the road to the bike trail. This was the same route that I biked a few days ago. Today, it was mostly cloudy and still somewhat cool after an overnight low in the teens. No snow to deal with, though, and I didn't need the stabilicers since the route was all blacktop and no ice expected. Overall, the run was pretty uneventful. This particular five-mile course is probably one of the easiest with respect to climbs, with just some rolling hills. Also, late last summer, the trail was upgraded to add a couple of bridges over Ashley Creek. Now, with the bridges in place, it is no longer necessary to leave the trail and run on the main highway (Highway 2) and that makes the route a little safer. Although the route is not a true "loop", it is pretty close to a loop with just a repeat of about three-fourths of a mile for the course. Interestingly, during the last part of the run, some Longhorns showed up along the road.

I did not see them when I had run down the road just about an hour earlier. Or did I have 'blinders' on? Hmmm, I'm not sure! It turned out to be a fine day for a run!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Run Up the Hill into the Snow and Clouds

Tuesday, March 9, 2010
The snow that fell overnight and during part of the morning did not stop my planned road run today. Although I had thought about switching to the treadmill, since the road was only wet, and not snow covered or slippery, up the hill I went early this afternoon. Today, the plan was to do another five-miler, so it was the farthest run up the Batavia hill toward Ashley Lake that I've done this year. There were still some low clouds drifting along the west hills as I turned up the first hill and turn combination. The trucks weren't running on the road today (maybe because of the snow and wetness) so the run up Batavia seemed like a good idea. There was a bit of slimy mud along the road at the sandpit that has been the destination of the usual truck traffic. Most of the uphill run was fine, but, I did walk the last 1/2 mile or so before the turnaround. That particular section is a fairly steep uphill and even walking it was a good workout.

Just before the turnaround, a gaggle of turkeys laughed at me because I wimped out and needed to walk. But, it was probably a good thing since just at the turnaround a couple of deer bounded over the road. If I had been running too fast, I might not have been able to stop and could have run into them (yeah, right! ... but, it seemed like a good excuse for walking!). The run down the hill was a lot easier than the uphill jog. The run ended, as it started, with continuing clouds and even some light snow/rain mix from time to time.

Add a Mile ... So now that Makes Five

Sunday, March 7, 2010
The number of training runs are starting to add up, and slowly increasing is the distance. Today I decided to duplicate yesterday's run up Sherman Road, with just a little additional distance. Since the things to see during the first two miles did not change, I needed to look for things in that extra one-half mile. Just after the 2-mile mark, a broken tree caught my eye.

As I continued up the road, there is another farm along the new section I ran today. And on that farm they had some calves! (eee-yi-eee-yi-ooo)!

It was another clear and dry day (again, except for the road surface) and I had a nice run! On the way back, I decided it was time to do a visual count of the bottles and cans along the last mile. As usual, this is a little disappointing to see, and during my later runs I will carry a bag to collect what I am able to carry. Today, I counted 76 bottles and cans within that last mile ... pretty sad!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Run in the Sun for Fun and Training

Saturday, March 6, 2010
The days are continuing with clear sky and dry weather. This does not necessarily mean the running route is dry, especially when taking to the gravel roads. Today was one such day. It was up the hill to what has been one of my most common running routes: Sherman Road. The gravel run begins just after the one-mile mark on the Sherman runs. Most of the run out to the turnaround is uphill. The road has a couple of farms, ranches, and homes along the route. One of my favorite places is the old barn and outbuildings just about a mile up the road.

Another, is a farm and cabin complex just beyond the small water area I call 'Sherman Pond'. During today's run in the sun I took photos of both of those places. Sherman curves around a bit as the climb continues above the 2-mile mark. But, that will be for another run. As for today, it was a good (if somewhat muddy) run just for a mile. That, added to the mile of black-top and the return run, met my target for the 4-miler today. It was a good run (with no walking)!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Run, Run, Run, Run - Four Times More

Thursday, March 4, 2010
There was some light rain overnight, but it ended early in the day leaving just a cloudy and somewhat cool (but above normal temperature) running day. The trucks continue to run their way up and down my major running route. So, I decided to just run the short block or so on Batavia and headed up the Boorman Road hill. I've walked the route before (not as far as I ran today) and even walking, the hill is a pretty good challenge. (I'll need to take my Brunton elevation recorder next time to plot the elevation change, but, even without it, you can take my word that it's a good hill workout!)

I managed to run until about the mile-and-a-half point and decided to walk the rest of the way up the hill. Since I hadn't gone all of the way up "Spring Mountain" before, I wasn't sure how long the uphill route would be. I wanted to do at least a 4-mile outing and as it turned out, the "Boorman Loop" turnaround was at the 1.8 mile mark. There were some great views from the 'top of the mountain' and the downhill made the return a lot easier than the uphill run/walk had been.

There is a branch in the uphill road just where the "Spring Hill" subdivision begins and I decided to get the needed extra quarter mile or so by taking the second road branch and see where that would go (or at least to do the distance I wanted to do for today). I turned around just after an 'old wagon' display along the road. This really turned out to be an interesting running route! My GPS mileage showed I'd get my running target so I turned around for the second time while on this run and headed back down the hill again. The downhill took me past the EMU Farm and back down the road to the ranch. During the return run, the clouds were beginning to break and making for a sunny afternoon at the ranch!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Today was a cloudy cool, in fact, almost cold kind of day. But, it was a scheduled day to do a run. The trucks continue to run up and down the main road. Because of that I decided to do my run after walking up the snow route to Dawson Trail. The trail is the normal daily dog-walk / snowshoe trek up the west hill and then continuing on a woods trail until another uphill section that leads to a gate in the upper southwest corner of the ranch property. I put stablicers™ on my running shoes to keep from slipping on the packed ice. Both the trail, and the top section of the road after leaving the trail, are packed ice yet. So, I wore the 'icers'™ for the first three-fourths of a mile or so. After the icy section, the road has a fairly sharp turn and steep downhill section. Great for the outward bound run ... not so easy on the return jog (or walk, like I did today).
I ran down the gravel roads (Dawson Trail becomes Danielson Road near the top of the hill) and went right when I got to Managhan Road. This blacktop road is slightly rolling and spans the mile plus distance between Batavia Lane and Highway 2. Today, I chose to cross Highway 2 when I got there and ran on the bike trail to complete the distance I wanted before the turnaround point.
I ran a bit of extra distance on the trail since I already had it in my mind to begin walking at the bottom of the hill on my return. (I'll save the leg burning hill climb 'runs' for a bit later during my training program!) Today, as I returned to the 'ice road' I put the stablicers back on. But, instead of going to the original trail gate, I decided to go back into the ranch property through the southeast corner instead. This goes through a section of woods that actually seemed somewhat foreign to me today. Even through I have walked that trail into the ranch a number of times in the past. It's been a couple of years and the fallen trees and various brush piles had modified the appearance of the area since my last hike through. I returned the rest of the way to the ranch along the upper trail outside of pasture four. Like the road and the other hiking trail, this section was packed ice and not suitable for running at this time. It was a good outing, but I felt more tired than usual (maybe due to the hill climbs and icy conditions).

Sunday, February 28, 2010

It was bright and sunny today, so, I decided to repeat the run down Batavia to Kienas Road. Both Blacktail Mountain ski area (to the south) and the peaks of Glacier National Park (to the northeast) were clearly visible today. There was just a bit of haze in the air, but otherwise clear blue sky was the order of the day. I only went to the same turnaround point that I used a couple of days ago for the 4-miler training run. The only walking section I did today was when a dog's owner (Katie ... owner of Red) came out to the road to fetch the dog. Another runner had just passed me while doing the downhill return run down Kienas. He said the dog at that farm was a 'back-biter'. I decided to hang back after he ran by (blew my socks off, anyway) when I saw someone coming out from the farm.
After some quick greetings, I continued my run back to Batavia and up the road to the ranch. It was a good four mile outing. Since I thought this was the starting 'Sunday' of my training plan, I actually did back to back runs since I had done another 4-miler yesterday.

Saturday, February 27, 2010
Today was a cloudy and cool day that had some clouds hanging around the edges of the hills. No trucks were running up and down Batavia, so, I decided to make that my running route. Two choices exist, running downhill at the start and finishing with an uphill run, or, as would be expected, running uphill at the beginning of the run, doing a turnaround, and returning with all downhill running. Today, I chose to do the uphill first!
It was a relatively quiet day on the road. Just some local traffic pulling snowmobiles going up the mountain (or big hill) to Ashley Lake (about 1000' higher than the ranch, so still some good snow trails there). There were also some folks coming down the hill. Probably to do the weekly shopping trip or run some errands in town. I didn't quite make it to the cloud layer, that would have added another mile out and back to my run. The six milers will start soon enough and so today I settled for the turnaround at the two mile point and enjoyed the comparatively fast run down the hill back home.

February Summary -- Quick Short Month

Well, another month has come and gone quite quickly. This is a summary of February as I saw it at the ranch. Kind of a mellow month as winter months go, and each day shows the approaching spring.

February 2010 (Slide Show)

Sunday, February 28, 2010
Clear overnight followed by a sunny dry day (well, actually, it was wet where the snow is melting and the water running).

Sunny Morning view from the Deck
Panorama south from the deck

Saturday, February 27, 2010
Clouds overnight resulted in just a little light snow overnight (0.1" ... VERY little). This quickly disappeared as the temperature rose during the morning and throughout the day. Some sunlight showed up during the early afternoon walk with the dogs. The sky cleared late in the day and clear conditions may again result in the low going to the middle twenty degree range.

Ginger in Sunlight during Today's Walk
Ginger and her shadow on the snow

Friday, February 26, 2010
Mostly clear conditions overnight helped to push the overnight low to just below twenty degrees. Partly cloudy sky conditioned during most of the day and resulted in a good warm-up. Good thing, too. The packed snow has formed ice in the corrals, and today one of the horses managed to "cast" himself against a fence and couldn't stand up on the ice without help (oops, no images taken ... too busy getting him back on his feet). After adding some stall footing for traction and removing the fence rails, he got up and appears to be fine. (Just kind of tired after lying there for an hour or so and trying to get up before we saw him). After that event, all was well and the day continued with the sun cloud mix we see on many of these late winter days.

Morning Merge of Paddock Sunshine at Shelter
Sun from two sides of the paddock shelter

Thursday, February 25, 2010
A good mix of weather in NW Montana today. The first animal check just before sunrise was with snow pellets on the ground from a little overnight activity. The sky was mostly cloudy for the morning with a cooling rainfall during my run today. An early afternoon walk started in sunshine enough that I debated going back for sunglasses but ended 25 minutes later with a light rain falling! Later in the day, I took a trip down into the valley and it was spectacular mix of sun and clouds with a combination of rain and snow going on around the edges of the valley. The evening sky cleared and is likely to give us a low in the low 20's again tonight. South facing hills are continuing to lose the snow day by day.

Sun Cloud Mix around the Area Today (Slide Show)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010
A change in the conditions today with mostly cloudy sky starting the day and hanging around for the duration. There was just a light snow flurry or two in the air but nothing measurable (I wouldn't even call it a "trace" just a flake or two in the air). During the afternoon, I gathered some of the winter baling twine and other debris and held the first barrel fire event for the year. Late in the day, as the sun was setting, there was a bit of color in the sky to the east (but not photographed). The last animal check had a mix of clouds, stars and the growing moon lighting the way back to the house.

Fire in the Barrel
Fire in the barrel during afternoon cleanup burn

Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Clear sky overnight again resulted in temperatures nearing the single digits. Frosty buildings today as the sun shine again works on the south facing slopes to bring the snow line down the hill. The paddock snow is packed and icy from daily horse activity. General snow conditions are quite light with probably 4-5" in level areas. The outer pasture might still have 8" or so, but it is old snow and could disappear quickly with a couple of days above freezing.

Walking the Line in Mid-day Sunshine
Patti and the pups walking the upper fence line

Monday, February 22, 2010
Mostly clear conditions overnight. There were some clouds early in the morning, but the rest of the day was almost totally clear. This can be a good thing, except, during the winter it means that overnight it can be a bit cool. The sun of the day is still not quite enough to melt away all of the snow. However, it has melted along the house and Taffy decided to decorate the flower box while watching over the ranch late today.

Taffy in the Window Flower Box
Taffy watching the ranch from the window flower box

Sunday, February 21, 2010
Totally clear overnight. Totally cold this morning. But, day by day, the snow line is moving down the hill. The deer are beginning to gather on the hill above the ranch. Spring cannot be far away.

North Hill Deer are Returning
Deer grazing the hill north of the ranch

Saturday, February 20, 2010
A mix of overnight clouds gave way to mostly sunny conditions for today. It was somewhat cooler than the last few days but the sun made it quite a nice day.

Sunny View from the Deck Today
Sunny view southeast from the deck around noon today

Friday, February 19, 2010
Blue sky and sunny conditions existed for most of the day today. This led to a little horsing around in the background, too. The late afternoon had some clouds but they gave way late in the day to allow the stars to shine through once again.

Blue Sky with background Horsing Around
Corrie agains the sky with horsing around in the background by Harmony and Dunder

Thursday, February 18, 2010
Overnight appeared to have been a continuation of the cloud mix from yesterday. This morning, the clouds broke apart allowing mostly sunny conditions until mid afternoon. The mostly cloudy conditions that developed during the early afternoon continued throughout the rest of the day. But just after the time of sunset (not seen, since it was cloudy yet) the clouds broke-up again and will result in colder overnight temperatures to repeat.

Mostly Sunny Panorama Just after Noon
Sunny panorama just after noon today

Wednesday, February 17, 2010
The stars were shining overnight and the morning started with broken clouds and sun mixed together. Most of the day was sunny with an amazing mix of clouds in the area.

Away from the ranch from time to time now, as the outdoor running sessions have begun.

Clouds with Sunrise Pending
Sunrise, clouds, and the Box Elder tree

Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Cloudy day today with some rain around mid-day. The clouds remained all day with fog banks hanging just above the tree line again while the higher hills still peeked through.

Fog with Hills Peeking Through
Passing clouds hang above the trees but below hill tops

Monday, February 15, 2010
The cycle of light overnight snowfall followed by warm conditions resulted in a return of some fog this morning. Although the sun tried to break through, mostly cloudy conditions continued for the day. There were lines of low clouds just above the tree line, but still allowing the hilltops to show.

Morning Sun tries to Burn through the Fog
Sun through the mid-morning fog

Sunday, February 14, 2010
The day began with the red of the sun coloring the sky and clouds. Some of those clouds parted from time to time to allow light sunlight along with a little warming of the air a bit more each day.

Morning Sky again Glows
Color in the sky again today just before sunrise

Saturday, February 13, 2010
Clouds overnight and for most of the morning today. Some breaks in the cloudiness during the mid-afternoon. Continued above normal temperatures for this time of year.

Corner View at the Paddock Fence
Fence line from the corner

Friday, February 12, 2010
About an inch of wet snow overnight. This lined the tree branches nicely but did not stay very long as the temperature warmed, rising into the upper 30's. Fog developed as a result of the rapid snow melt and almost hid the horses from view as they munched at lunch-time. Later in the afternoon, blue sky and sunshine returned. (See a slide show video of the changes at the ranch that took place today...Click to go to YouTube video).

Mid-day Fog Hides the Horses
Mid day fog hides the horses today

Thursday, February 11, 2010
There was just a little light snow overnight. The clouds that delivered the snow remained all day today. Temperatures continue to remain mild and the "mellow winter" made it through another quiet, if colorless, day.

View of the Ranch this Afternoon
Panorama from east to south this afternoon

Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Mostly cloudy, again, but there was just a ray or two of sun during the afternoon today.

Some Shadows during light Afternoon Sun
Sun with shadows in view toward the ranch

Tuesday, February 09, 2010
Mostly cloudy with just a light scattering of snow today.

Just a Hint of Sun behind the Afternoon Clouds
Hint of sun behind the afternoon clouds

Monday, February 08, 2010
Continuing with the cloudy conditions today. Pretty much the same all around with just a little rain to the north during the afternoon.

A Horse in the Woods
Jonah in the winter paddock woods

Sunday, February 07, 2010
Cloudy, with temperatures holding at mild values for this time of the year.

It was a Super Day for Resting on the Couch
Titan and Taffy resting on the couch

Saturday, February 06, 2010
Light overnight snow and full cloud cover for the day again.

Walking the Line
Walking the upper pasture fence line

Friday, February 05, 2010
Color in the sky to start the day today. The clouds persisted through the day continuing the mostly cloudy trend for this month.

Morning Glow
Morning glow in the sky today

Thursday, February 04, 2010
Mostly foggy with clouds around the edges today.

Fog over the Ranch
Ranch building in fog today

Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Mostly cloudy with fog around the edges today.

Jonah with Fog around the Edges of the Pasture
Jonah waiting to return to the paddock late this afternoon

Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Mostly cloudy, but with a scattering of sun during the early afternoon. Late afternoon saw increasing cloud cover along with periods of dense fog.

Animal Farm Images from Today (Click to go to facebook album)

Closest to Sunshine as it got Today
Midday fog over the southeast tree line

Monday, February 01, 2010
A light fluffing of snow overnight. Mostly cloudy conditions through the day.

Snow Branches Frame the Ranch
Snow on tree branches along the upper pasture