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JOHNSTON: Ready to embrace the winter season

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Ready to embrace the winter season

Heat pump heat just doesn’t cut it on a cold winter’s night.

We always seem to have a few days in December when the temperature rises into the mid-to-upper 60s, but for the most part we can kiss autumn goodbye.

It has been a good one, with warm, dry days and cool nights, but now it is time for cold, or at least cooler, weather to take over.

Snow lovers are already checking out the long-range weather forecasts for the possibility of a winter storm, but there are no signs yet of even a mini blizzard yet.

There have been several storms in Colorado, Montana and the Dakotas (a blizzard up there) with Aberdeen, South Dakota, getting nearly two feet of snow (and ice) about two weeks ago. I have a friend in west central Montana and she has twice posted photos on Facebook of snow in her yard.

Comments from her Virginia friends have been mixed. Some, including me, say, “Send us some!” while others post, “Keep it there!”

There have also been a few snow squalls in the higher elevations of West Virginia, in the Davis and Elkins area. It won’t be too long before ski lodges in that part of the country will be opening.

I have already had a couple of fires in the fireplace and they felt good on those cold nights when the morning temperature dipped down into the low-to-mid-20s.

The problem is that once you start making fires, you get accustomed to them and you feel a chill at night when you don’t have one. Heat pump heat just doesn’t cut it on a cold winter’s night.

All my fall work is done. The fields are plowed and the leaves have all been raked and burned. Wood is stacked on the back deck in anticipation of snow and the generator has been checked out. My potatoes, which have begun sprouting in the warmth of the basement, are now underground in my kiln. And, I have finished cracking walnuts.

We finally got some needed much needed rain from the remnants of Hurricane Nicole and the winter grain is looking good.

A dry fall forced many area farmers to starting feeding hay a full month earlier than usual. Grass, at least in my area, just dried up in late October.

Most of the corn has been shelled and the soybeans harvested. It was a good harvest west of I-95, but some areas east of the interstate suffered from a mild drought.

Hunting season is underway and some nice bucks were taken during black powder season. A buddy of mine got a beautiful 10-pointer (which dressed out at over 150 pounds) a couple of weeks ago and took a seven-pointer the next morning. He now has three deer in the freezer.

Venison is the primary meat for many families in the country these days. Three or four deer make a lot of hamburger and assorted cuts. At the cost of a hunting license, it is cheap meat at a time when beef prices are sky high.

Again, I remind you to drive carefully after dark. The rut is in full swing and lovesick deer are everywhere. Three times in one night last week I would have collided with these animals had I not been driving slowly and watching for eyes.

One buck just stood in my lane (on a major highway) and refused to move until he was ready. Fifteen minutes and 10 miles later a doe did the same thing. And that same night two more deer jumped onto the highway not 50 yards from my car. Be careful! Body shops are already backed up with repairs.

The deer rut is a sure sign that winter is just around the corner and we can legitimately start looking for snow from Thanksgiving weekend on (we have historically had several nice storms the last part of November).

I’m ready! Bring it on, the deeper the better. There is nothing nicer than sitting in front of a warm wood fire on a frigid night with snow falling outside. It makes winter worthwhile.

So cuddle up for the next three months and enjoy the season. Winter can be a fine time of the year.

Donnie Johnston:

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