What a Winter!

Winter 2014 has proven to be a hard one!  With over three feet of snow covering the yard, ice everywhere, and everyone, including the chickens stuck indoors, how do we keep from going stir crazy?


My friends in warmer states always are in disbelief that we can handle temperatures so cold. It’s amazing what you get used to, and spring, summer and fall here can be divine. I always feel sheepish complaining of cold when talking to my friends in colder areas, like Minnesota. Of course, I worry about my loved ones when they’re on the road in bad weather, and I especially worried about my mom in Georgia this year. Almost every state in the US has been affected by a long, cold winter season.

Snow cone anyone?

Snow cone anyone?

At our house, the chickens that we were given from a neighbor in November are now “teenagers”. While I got a chicken coop this Christmas, it was too cold to put the chicks outside, even with their heater, so we built the big, wooden coop inside, in the garage. My husband’s very handy, and the coop is built with sections. It will be easy to transfer the coop and hens outside when we have a thaw. For now, we’ve put painter’s plastic underneath the “run” portion of the coop. In the run, henhouse and nesting box sections, I’m using the same flaked wood from the feed store we used to line their box when they were babies. I use a litter box scoop to remove the old bedding into a bucket each day, so mess and smell is kept at bay. Each evening, we close the henhouse at night, just as we would if they were outside. Every morning, they’re so cute, lined up at the door, waiting to greet me and be fed their food and fresh water. Chickens need variety and greens. In addition to their feed, I’ve discovered my chickens love green peas, torn lettuce and kale, and sweet potato peelings. They are so sweet and docile, and I delight in their clucks and purrs. We recently saw a fisher cat strolling right through our front yard, about four feet from the house, so I do worry about when they move outside, but I also can’t wait until they can be in the grass, taking dust baths and doing the things chickens do.

The girls having their morning meal.  Two look more Sussex, two look more Leghorn.  We have loved watching them grow this winter.

The Christensen Chickens having their morning meal. Two look more Sussex, two look more Leghorn. We have loved watching them grow this winter.

I don’t like to complain about the weather. The weather is something I can’t control, but I can control my attitude about it.

The view from one of my kitchen windows during our last big storm.  My dear husband is on the tractor clearing the driveway.

The view from one of my kitchen windows during our last big storm. My dear husband is on the tractor clearing the driveway.

Out on the deck, the snow piles up...

Out on the deck, the snow piles up…

It's deep, but pretty.

It’s deep, but pretty. This section is where my garden benches are buried. There’s two of them, somewhere…

We’ve had many “snow days”, which throws my schedule off, but I really am treasuring the time. While it can be trying to keep my daughter entertained when I can’t tell her to go ride her bike or go outside to play, I know that the years are flying by, and one day I will miss these “bonus” days.  She loves all the snow, and even if it’s too heavy to sled, she still enjoys “suiting up” to dig in the fluffy white. A long winter’s hard on businesses, and hard on families on tight budgets, but I also look at snow days as a chance for cozy family time. As I shovel yet another round of snow, slush, and ice, I try to look at the bright side, keeping in mind that I’m also burning extra calories!

It's fun when you're a kid to dig a tunnel in a big ol' pile of snow!

It’s fun when you’re a kid to dig a tunnel in a big ol’ pile of snow!


To stave off  “winter blues” I pour through seed catalogs that have filled my mailbox like old friends…

Dream! Fresh veggies and herbs...

Dream! Fresh veggies and herbs…

cooked hearty, warm dinners…

I love to simmer pots of soup and beans on the stove.  Isn't this mix of thirteen kinds of dried beans pretty?

I love to simmer pots of soup and beans on the stove. Isn’t this mix of thirteen kinds of dried beans pretty?

baked special treats…

Look at those beautiful berries! We had such a bounty of raspberries last summer so we packed the freezer...

Look at those beautiful berries! We had such a bounty of raspberries last summer so we packed the freezer…

A taste of summer on a wintry day! Hard to believe the North Pole we are living in now will be lush and green again in a few months!

A taste of summer on a wintry day! Hard to believe the North Pole we are living in now will be lush and green again in a few months! (Recipe below).
Spent a snowy afternoon making a new table runner for my kitchen with my favorites, cherries and chickens!  Find the instructions to make one here: http://www.farmgirlbloggers.com/1229#more-1229

Spent a snowy afternoon making a new table runner for my kitchen with my favorites, cherries and chickens! Find the instructions to make one here: http://www.farmgirlbloggers.com/1229#more-1229

and created. Keeping busy hands keeps my mind off of bad weather. Craft, sew, knit, journal… creating something is so therapeutic.

The day after the "big storm",  it was blue skies and slushy, but drivable, roads.

The day after the “big storm”, it was blue skies and slushy, but drivable, roads.

Hang in there, farmgirls! Winter won’t last forever.

***So tell me…what gets you and your family through a long winter?***

Scrumptious Raspberry Muffins

  • 1 ¼ cup organic flour
  • ¾ cup organic oatmeal (rolled oats type)
  • ½ cup organic sugar
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup organic milk
  • 4 TBSP organic coconut oil, melted. Let cool before adding.
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup berries (fresh or frozen raspberries or blackberries. Can also use fresh blueberries, or dried cranberries or raisins)

Preheat oven to 4000. In a large bowl, stir together flour, oats, baking powder, spices, and salt.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, egg, and vanilla.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet; mix together just to moisten.  Gently fold in the berries.  Spoon batter into greased muffin tin, filling each cup ½ full.  Bake 20 minutes and cool for five minutes before removing muffins from tin and cooling on a baking rack.  Makes about 12 muffins.

Until Next Time, Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  1. Lisa H says:

    Hi Nicole,

    It has been a LONG and BRUTAL winter for sure. Where I live in northern Indiana, Lake Michigan can “enhance” our snow production and definitely influences our weather. My daughter has missed 8 days of school this winter and it looks like the majority of those days will have to be made up this summer. Thankfully, the brutal cold (-25 to -45) has moved on and hopefully not to return. Monday we had another fierce snowstorm but yesterday the temperatures finally warmed higher than freezing and we were getting some snow melt. Now the worry is flooding. We are expecting a LOT of rain and thunderstorms tomorrow. There is almost three feet of snow on the ground and the ground is froze a good three feet. There is no where for the water to go. It will be an interesting and anxiety filled few days, especially for those that live in flood plain areas. Sometimes I wonder what we would talk about if we didn’t have the weather. Ha ha ha.

    Despite all the snow, I see the beginnings of Spring and that brings hope that one day soon we will relish the sight of green grass and green leaves. I hear the birds singing once again and some are starting their courting dances. Can you feel the warmth of the sun and the warm breeze on your face? Can you smell the fresh cut grass? Won’t it be exciting to be able to open our windows once again and let the fresh air overwhelm our senses? The smell of the earth as we begin our spring planting can’t be beat. I can’t wait to hang my sheets out on the line, too. Just think, if we didn’t have the winter, we wouldn’t have anything to look forward to and that makes me more sad than getting stuck inside with all the snow.


    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Lisa, I love your attitude! I could almost smell that green grass reading your comment! You are so right, won’t spring and summer be an even more appreciated gift this year after all this cold? I hope the flooding doesn’t cause too much trouble. I wonder the same thing…where is all the water going to go? Thank you for commenting, warm thoughts and farmgirl hugs your way. -Nicole

  2. Rae suba says:

    Yum now im hungry for muffins! Ill need to get the husband baker on that !!! 🙂 wish we had raspberries !! We only had a frozen overstock of blueberries 🙂

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Rae! Blueberries will work, too. I love blueberries, but last year the ones I put in did not produce. Hopefully I will have some this year! -Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Adrienne says:

    Wow! Your post reminds me of the day when I had a weekend/holiday cabin in the mountains of southern California. We had some pretty deep snow in the winter and fortunately, the A-frame was on stilts with a creek flowing down the hill to the highway below. The cabin had a 100-gallon propane tank half buried in the ground and provided heat, cooking/baking, and the Swedish fireplace as well as refrigeration (Italian refrigerator ran on propane). It was great to snuggle under a quilt sipping tea and eating soup while listening to the snow fall. Snow whispers, I decided. Now that I live in San Francisco and hoping for more rain to end our drought, I’m wishing for snow in the mountains by Lake Tahoe, Donner Pass and other areas not only for the skiers but those of us who need full reservoirs when the snow melts in the spring. And spring will be here soon!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Adrienne! The cabin trip sounds wonderful, and peaceful. I like how you call falling snow “snow whispers”. That captures it exactly. Right now, though, we’ve had ice and freezing rain, too, and that is difficult to deal with. I have a cousin in California, and she was just telling me about the drought. It’s hard to imagine a drought with all the excess moisture we have here. Wish we could send some of this precipitation there! Thanks for visiting me, Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

  4. Diana Henretty says:

    Our Ozark winter here in Missouri has been quite the winter, lots of snow, ice,
    below zero wind chills, a true winter.
    I’ve walked my gardens every morning though, quilted, baked on my old cookstove,
    written long letters in my journal, and simmered wonderful soups!
    This is the first year I’ve noticed the birds singing on the below zero mornings and they are already making their nests for spring, so early and so cold, but how inspiring to hear them sing their songs before dawn and so chilly, a true mother’s love!
    This morning Im taking used plastic yogurt cups and starting marigold seeds to be ready to plant after the frost, I use the blossoms for teas and salves.
    Happiness! Diana, Noel, Mo

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Diana! Sounds like a lovely time at your neck of the woods…quilting, baking on a cook stove! I can’t wait until we thaw a bit so I can walk around my gardens, too. Right now, they are completely buried, ha ha. I am going to start my seeds, too. That always makes me feel like we are just rounding the corner and winter will be done soon. Your comment has reminded me to put out my nesting materials for the birds! Thank you..Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

  5. Laurie Dimino says:

    Hi Nicole,
    Loved your post as I can relate to it all being your “neighbor across the sound” here on Long Island. Literally, kids being home from school, chicken woes, plenty of snow, pouring over seed catalogs and making gardening plans, wow…..we REALLY have to meet in person! I feel like your a long lost “sister” !
    Stay warm and safe, and keep your chin up, Spring really IS just around the corner!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Laurie, I feel the exact same! I can’t wait to meet you, either. What fun we will have! Hang in there, farmsis, we’ve got to start thawing out soon! Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

  6. Sandy says:

    The Minnesota winter has been brutal. The snow is very deep, I too wonder where the water will go. Yesterday and today we had temps up to 40 degrees, we opened all the doors and windows and let in fresh air! What a treat. Tomorrow another blizzard and after that below zero temps again. But winter for me is doing long neglected things like cabinet cleaning, decluttering etc. we remodeled our kitchen, hubby is replacing all the doors and woodwork now. New carpeting to follow. We are at our lake place most of the summer, so winter is time to catch up. Due to school closings we were pressed into daycare service for our 7 and 5 year old grandsons, so time to catch up on hugs and kisses as well. Soon it will pass and we will fishing and boating once again.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Sandy! I have a pen pal and my husband has a good friend who are both in parts of Minnesota. Brrr! But like a true-blue farmgirl, it sounds as if you are making the best of a long, cold winter, and how awesome you get some “bonus” days with your grandkids, too! Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

  7. Kim Reeves says:

    The snow at your place is beautiful! I’m from South Georgia and we had one night of flurries! Not much accumulation! Just enough that my children could make a hand sized snowball each to put in the freezer!! For me, that was plenty! It has been very cold here this winter. For us, a nice change from the scorching hot summers! We’ve had a lot of ice. More than we’ve had in years! More rain too! We have been in a drought for some time now! Anyway our children DO NOT do well having to be in doors AT ALL!! Lol!! We spend a lot of time outside! We farm, bale hay, fish, hunt and play! So when we have to be inside we build forts, work on school projects(we homeschool), read a lot, etc. We’d love to have enough snow to build a snowman! Maybe one winter we will!
    I really enjoyed reading your post and the ones who replied! I also love the “farmgirl” connection that we all share! I’ll be praying for everyone’s safety during all this snow and ice! And can’t wait to read more of your future posts!
    Blessings to you and yours!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Kim! Thank you so much…it makes me happy to hear you liked my post. My mom is in Georgia, too. I can’t believe all the ice and cold you all have had this year. Up here in the north, we do have to be “creative” sometimes with activities with our kids since we sometimes just can’t get outside as much as we’d like, but come spring through early winter, we are outside as much as possible, at least my family is. I really don’t mind the snow, and generally will walk the dog and get out in it as long as the temps don’t dip below about twenty degrees or so. We love to make snowmen, and sledding is fun. Ice, though, is difficult, and we’ve got so much snow, it’s too much of a good thing! Today we have bright sunshine…I’ve got all the curtains thrown back and the dog and cats are sunbathing in sunny spots. Think warm thoughts, and thanks again for “visiting” me! Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

  8. Cat Livingston says:

    Hi Nicole! We have always loved Kansas winters here. We have a sledding hill that is open to everyone around here and they know that they can come and sled when it snows. I love the coziness of staying inside in front of a roaring fireplace. I love long walks in the snow in the woods that surround our cabin. I am enjoying the rest from all the outside work and gardening I do every day of the Spring, Summer and Fall seasons. The beauty of Winter is just amazing and I never liked it until my awesome husband gave me a new perspective on the wonder of it all. So many people have a bad attitude about Winter, but it is all in how you view something. Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed your post.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Cat! I agree…winter gives me a much-needed break from weeding and gardening. I’ve grown to really love and appreciate four seasons. Your cabin sounds wonderful. Love that you have a great sledding hill and offer to others. Sounds like you have true farmgirl spirit. Thanks for writing in. Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

  9. Marcia says:

    Dear Nicole,
    Loved your post as it brought back wonderful memories of living in Michigan and the “north country” of New York. The picture of your daughter peeking out of the snow tunnel brought back memories of my daughter(now 32 yrs old) and the snow tunnel she built, the snow fell on her middle trapping her and I was inside the house. I finally heard her calling and came out to her legs waving up and down on one end and her arms waving on the other. After I got her inside and warmed up we were able to laugh about it, your picture brought a great big smile to my face! Hope you keep warm and continue writing, love to read your posts!

    Thank you
    (living in Florida now, miss winter very much)

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Marcia! What a cute story about your daughter! I bet she was a sight! If you’d like a chuckle, head over to my blog post from last February, when we got a huge blizzard. There’s a picture of my daughter, arms and legs splayed out, after she fell face down in the snow. Splat! I just had to snap a picture. We still laugh about it. That post is here: http://www.farmgirlbloggers.com/1184#more-1184

      Yesterday was sunny skies until last night, when it changed to freezing rain. Today it’s warmed up a bit, it’s fifty shades of grey, and I don’t mean the book! It’s foggy, slushy, drippy, and just grey! I got to visit your lovely state last September, so today I’m missing Florida! Thanks so much for sharing, and hope you will “drop by” again! Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

  10. Merrit LaRussa says:

    Hi from Republic, Missouri. We are ready for spring around here too. I love your chicken story. I want chickens but we live in a old commercial building that was once the community doctor’s office. The city code on having chickens states their coop must be 80 feet from property line. LOL…that means our coop would be in the center of the street! After reading your chicken coop in the garage comments, I started thinking on ways to train them to a leash and teach them to bark. Oh well. I do have space for my garden and we enjoy the uniqueness of our home. My brother teases me about my kitchen being converted from the doctors laboratory. LOL!! My husband has promised me chickens one day. In the mean time I sure enjoy reading about yours. Thank you for sharing.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Merrit! I hear ya on the chickens. I suffered from what I called “chicken envy” for the longest time…even blogged about my want of chickens here a time or two. Since they are my “first” chickens, it’s been an adventure, for sure. I’m so thankful for my friend Susan down the road. She is my go-to girl when I have a “chicken emergency”, and there’s been a couple times I’ve called her in a panic. We’ll see how it all goes…I’m sure I’ll be updating the chicken status here again. 😉

      Your home sounds so neat! My husband and I both like homes that aren’t “cookie cutter” designs. I’d say my home is not a “traditional” style home, either, but more a “soft contemporary”, that I’ve decorated with things I love, and lots of “farmgirl” touches! When I was in middle school in Houston, down the street was also an old doctor’s office that had been converted to a house. It was one of the neatest houses I’d ever seen, and I always wanted to know what it looked like inside. That was eons ago, and I still remember that house! Thanks for sharing with me! Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

  11. Rebecca says:

    I think most of us have had more than our share of snow and cold this winter. During last week’s storms, a lot of my southern relatives had pictures posted on facebook showing their children making and eating snow cream. That brought back all sorts of childhood memories for me, so I had to make some of my own. Of course, it’s not nearly the same when you use skim milk and stevia. Ha. It’s traditionally with lots of real sugar, vanilla and heavy cream. I love the snow, but I have to admit that I’m beginning to look for some signs of spring. Your pictures are beautiful and so peaceful looking.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Rebecca, I have yet to make “snow cream” with my daughter! Now most of the snow is so hard and dirty. It stays pretty until about this time in February, when all the salt and slush is grey, ya know. But you’ve inspired me…the next fresh, pretty snowfall, we will try it! Thanks for “visiting” me! Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

  12. donnalee smith says:

    Chickens love all kinds of greens BUT please don’t feed them white potato skins. They have been treated with something toxic and will kill your chickens.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      That’s true. I don’t give them any white potato skins, but sweet potato skins are just fine. Good tip, thanks for posting. Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

  13. Irene Mele says:

    Hi Nicole:

    I was your husband’s VW dealership today and he asked me about my Mary Janes Farmgirl decal on my car. He gave me your blog address. Just wanted to say hello and loved your blog on the chickens. Keep the home and country going. Mary Janes Farm is my favorite magazine!


    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Irene,
      Kim told me there was a farmgirl at the dealership! He said you have chickens, too. Thanks for reading and for saying “Hi”. I am glad you enjoy the blog, and all things MaryJane! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  14. Carol Womelsdorf says:

    Hi Nicole, I love your recipes and the quilted runner. Thanks for those
    I live in CT and was looking for a Farmgirl Chapter and was wondering were you are. I live in Oakville in Lower Litchfield county. I would like to find a Chapter to share fun and ideas with.
    Thanks Carol

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Carol, Thank you…I am glad you enjoy the blog. I will email you privately regarding the Farmgirl Chapter. If mine is too far for you, maybe there is one nearer. We’ll talk. Thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

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