Meanwhile In Connecticut…

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February is a strange month, isn’t it? The holidays are past (there’s Valentine’s Day, of course, but it isn’t really a “holiday”), and there’s the latter part of winter to get through. We New Englanders are usually a little bit more “locked down” in February when winter gets its harshest, but with a pandemic still in effect, it makes the shortest month of the year truly feel like we are living in the movie “Groundhog Day”. Still, since my last blog, there has been much going on in the Connecticut suburbs…

I’ve blogged here for MaryJanesFarm since 2010, and recently was going through the past years’ February blogs. Several times, I’ve written about snow and ice in February, our most difficult winter month. But this winter, we have yet-again had some record-breaking snowstorms – recently, one right after the other. It seems we are forever shoveling, shoveling, shoveling! After the last storm, it was reported that we had 34” of the cold white fluff sitting on the ground! As I write this, my favorite weatherman is saying “Next week is going to be nasty.” BRRRR!

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All that snow and ice piled up makes everything beautiful, but it isn’t all fun. There’s the yearly ritual game of “Hide/Seek/Shovel/Find”, when the town snow plow accidentally takes out the mailbox. Also, it makes morning chores like taking the dogs out and taking care of the chickens rather difficult. My five-pound little chihuahua, Pip, especially does not like the snow. We have to bundle him up like a toddler before he goes out.

Pip looks fetching in his parka.

Pip looks fetching in his parka.

World’s cutest nose-sicle.

World’s cutest nose-sicle.

Back in, cozy and warm. Naptime...zzzzz

Back in, cozy and warm. Naptime…zzzzz

Norman: “As a superior cat species, I prefer a litter box to snow, and a warm sunny window. Yawwwnnn...”

Norman: “Winter is no big deal. As a superior housecat species, I prefer an indoor restroom and a warm sunny window. Yawwwnnn…”

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My chickens have a nice, insulated coop, but with all the frozen snow on the ground, it’s difficult to get to the run and get the big, metal gate open and closed. In the middle of a blizzard, I tried to close the gate, only to have it forcefully pop back open from all the snow and hit me right in the face! I splatted, facedown, into a big snowbank! My husband ran over quickly, positive my nose was broken. My face hurt, and my eyes watered, but thankfully I was just sore a few days. It was one time I was glad to be short – if I was any taller, the gate would have shattered my teeth! My chickens are okay – some have even started laying again. On super cold days,  I like to show them extra love with fresh greens and other goodies for a treat.

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Warm, sleepy chicken pile

Warm, sleepy chicken pile

The snowy driveway makes me cringe every time we leave or come home, but the snow makes for a beautiful outdoors, especially when glistening in the sun. We also love to find tracks in the snow, evidence of wildlife critters that have passed through. 

This was our driveway after a recent storm - after my husband had plowed! Somedays it is better than others...

This was part of our long driveway after a recent storm – after my husband had plowed! Somedays it is better than others. We spend a lot of time scraping and shoveling. Thankfully, extreme winter doesn’t last too long (we hope)!

We never know what tracks we will see in the snow.

We never know what tracks we will see in the snow.

Roadside mountain icicles on a recent outing were amazing. The ice looked blue.

Roadside mountain icicles on a recent outing were amazing. The ice looked blue.

I am a bit sad that in the past month, we have not seen our little friend, “Radio”,  the opossum who visits here frequently. I am hoping he is hunkered down someplace warm and will visit us again when there isn’t so much snow.

Peekaboo! We hope our little visitor is somewhere safe in the extreme cold.

Peekaboo! We hope our little visitor is somewhere safe in the extreme cold.

Edit 2/15: “Radio” finally showed back up, Valentine’s evening an tonight. We are so happy to see our little friend!

Edit 2/15: “Radio” finally showed back up, Valentine’s evening and again tonight. We are so happy to see our little friend!

I was also sad this month to hear that in another Connecticut suburb, legendary actor Christopher Plummer passed away. What a great master at his craft – a career spanning decades! I loved many of his movies, but like a lot of people, his portrayal as Captain Von Trapp is my favorite. My husband and I had the chance to meet him once, on our anniversary in 2009. The Ridgefield Playhouse showcased a movie premiere, starring Mr. Plummer, with a question-and-answer session, and book signing. When he found out it was our anniversary, he had the playhouse make an announcement, and when it was our turn to get our book signed, he spent extra time with us, telling us a few stories about time he spent in Denmark. He seemed to really appreciate his fans, and was so kind to allow me to snap this photo as he signed my book. 

Mr. Plummer was so nice when met him, and had the bluest eyes I have ever seen!

Mr. Plummer was so nice when met him, and had the bluest eyes I have ever seen! What a great talent he was!

On a much happier note, Mama Bird is so proud! We have big news!

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This month, my daughter received her Gold Award for Girl Scouts! Similar to an Eagle Scout, the Gold Award is the highest achievement a Girl Scout can earn, awarded to Senior and Ambassador level scouts. Less than six percent of all Girl Scouts achieve this award. Audrey had wanted to finish it during senior year, but unfortunately had numerous setbacks, many out of her control. The Pandemic situation only made it worse, but she was determined to earn the award! Over the last two years, she put countless hours into her project (a Pet Resource and Emergency Pet Information Network, with a downloadable brochure, a website and a Facebook group that she plans to continue to expand and grow). Once she started college, it made the extra work even more daunting, but she did it! I am so very proud of her! 

I decided that this was not the year to make “resolutions”, but to make time for the things I want to keep up with. I think we should never stop challenging ourselves. (I was in my thirties when I started blogging here; now I’m on the tail end of my forties – life sure does fly by). One challenge for myself is to try working on my knowlege of other languages. Have you heard of the language teaching app, “Duolingo”?

Danish is not the easiest language to master - a good brain challenge!

Danish is not the easiest language to master – a good brain challenge!

Being married to a Dane for almost thirty years, I picked up a great deal of Danish, but feel I am losing it, since we have not seen our Danish family in a long time. I’ve been practicing Danish through the Duolingo app. (Funny, I get a 100% when practicing the Danish words for different foods…Ahem). I also decided to try French and Spanish. I took 12 years of French in school, and the app is helping that come back to memory. I haven’t tried Spanish in decades (not since elementary school), and that’s more of a challenge for me, but the app makes it fun, even though I only do a few minutes a day. I am surprised by how much I am retaining!

On snowy days with more time at home, I’ve really been enjoying baking bread. Of all the recipes I have ever tried, MaryJane’s bread recipes are always my favorites. For ten years now, her soda bread recipe is my St. Patty’s go-to, and recently,  I have loved baking “Bread Art” focaccia bread, using MaryJane’s recipe from the October-November 2020 issue. Delicious, fun and beautiful!

This just doesn’t last long when I bake it...NOM NOM NOM!

This just doesn’t last long when I bake it…NOM NOM NOM!

This month, I also have finally perfected Sourdough. My friend Susan has been talking about doing sourdough for several months, and I love MaryJane’s book, Wild Bread.

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Bubble, bubble - time to feed the starter. Gettin’ back to all things farmgirl!

Bubble, bubble – time to feed the starter. Gettin’ back to all things farmgirl!

This was my first sourdough loaf. I get better and better each time at it. I would show you others, but we keep devouring it!

This was my first sourdough loaf. I get better and better each time at it. I would show you others, but we keep devouring it!

A sandwich becomes a delectable meal on a busy evening when made with homemade sourdough bread!

A sandwich becomes a delectable meal on a busy evening when made with homemade sourdough bread!

With their inspiration, I tried sourdough once more, and am now hooked! If you haven’t tried it before, it isn’t as daunting as you might think; it is actually pretty easy once you get into the rhythm of things.

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A good cup of tea on a cold day goes great with a slice of fresh bread. I recently participated in a “tea swap” through the Farmgirl Connection chatroom. I have really been enjoying the delicious teas and honey, sent by farmgirl Vanessa in Kentucky. She mentioned recently that it has been cold lately in Kentucky, too. My relatives in Texas are getting Connecticut-like weather as we speak, with snow and ice! Hang on, farmgirls, spring can’t be too far off!

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Speaking of farmgirls, a big CONGRATULATIONS to my five winners from last month’s giveaway: Brenda, Marge, Jackie, Patty, and April! Enjoy the beautiful MaryJanesFarm calendars! All of the comments left were wonderful; it always really means so much. Thank you all for dropping by! 

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Until Next Time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

Leave a comment 40 Comments

  1. Lisa D Von Saunder says:

    Having lived in the White mountains of New Hampshire, I know snow! One winter the snow was even with the window sills of the second story! We tunneled through it to get out the back door.
    I love oppossums !
    Two facts that people dont know: They can’t carry rabies, their blood is too cold. Also they are worth their weight in gold just for the amount to disease carrying ticks they eat! I live in PA now and the ticks are a real menace.
    Enjoy your ” snow days” and drink lots of cocoa and remember them on some hot August day when snow seems so wonderful

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Oh Lisa! I can’t imagine THAT much snow – I hope it never gets that way here! I have seen it where it makes the roads all seem like a luge track, lol! New Hampshire is beautiful – so is Pennsylvania, where we used to live long ago and I saw my first-ever snowfall.

      Aren’t opossums the best? I love seeing them, and Radio has become a cherished visitor. He was back last night, and while yesterday was warmer and sunny, we are expecting another 8 inches and very cold weather again. I hope he will continue to visit; we’ve seen him for over a year now. Stay warm, and thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  2. Heidi says:

    So much to do during snowy February! On a side note, I love Pip’s coat!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Heidi, Thank you! As for the weather, the bright side, it is really good knitting-with-a-side-of coffee weather! 😉 Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Jacqueline Bilder says:

    Some great pictures and fun captions. I am in PA and this has been an interesting winter. We are expecting another 5-8 inches tomorrow. The last two storms fizzled into nothing. Not that I am complaining but I remember growing up in the late 70’s where the weathermen seemed to nail the winter forecasts – not so much these days.
    Sounds like your animals are warm and cozy and enjoying this winter season.
    Sending positive thoughts that Spring is on the way!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Jacqueline, thank you! I am so glad you enjoyed the post. I think your snow storm is heading our way, too. We are supposed to also get around eight inches. I am going to sew a bit and bake some more bread. I know spring will be here eventually- the days are already getting lighter longer, so that is good. I just can’t wait to get back into Gidget the Glamper! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  4. Big congrats to your daughter for her Gold Award! My son completed his Eagle last fall and we know how much work goes into the project. It’s a wonderful accomplishment for her! The same things are happening here in Ohio…sourdough bread baking (with MaryJane’s book, of course), a steaming up of herbal tea on this -12 morning, and hunkering down in the cold and snow. How wonderful for you to meet Christopher Plummer – I have to agree, The Sound of Music is a favorite here as well. Stay warm…always enjoy your posts. 10 years, here does the time go?!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Mary, Congratulations to your Eagle Scout! That is wonderful! I am so impressed by these kids who do these projects! Hard to believe, but Audrey was seven when I wrote my first blog – and now she is 18! I feel like you all have watched her grow up with me! Stay warm! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  5. Nancy says:

    Nicole, I am enduring the Connecticut weather along with you. More snow forecast for tomorrow, ugh! I agree, it is beautiful to look at and it is protecting the soil in my garden. It is best to just hunker down and enjoy things like baking. I love you beautifully decorated focassia! I am keeping busy attacking my fabric stash and sewing patchwork quilts, watching the birds at my feeders and dreaming of what I will plant in the spring when the ground warms up. Congratulations to your daughter! What a wonderful accomplishment !

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Nancy, Thank you! And on the weather, I hear ya! After yesterday’s sunny and a bit warmer weather, I am NOT looking forward to more snow – and so far they are saying eight more inches! I am planning on some sewing myself this weekend; it’s been awhile since I sat at the machine, and sewing makes the hours fly by. Thanks for reading and commenting! Stay warm! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  6. Corinna says:

    Thank you for your blog. We moved from Connecticut to the Midwest in 2010 for work and miss New England dearly. I, too, have a husband whose native language (Hungarian) is difficult. We are using Mango which is used by some universities—it’s free through some public libraries but also available for about $10 a month—and have found it to be far superior to DuoLingo (at least for Hungarian). All best wishes and thank you! Kiki Mayer

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Kiki, I have always wanted to visit the Midwest; I am sure your area there is beautiful, too, but I can see where one would always miss Connecticut. Thank you so much for the info – I will check out Mango. I have not heard of it before but sounds good! Thanks for commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  7. Karen Surprenant says:

    I live in Connecticut too. Our possums killed most of our chickens.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Karen, I am so sorry to hear that. Radio leaves ours alone, and sometimes he has had a friend with him. The one time he tried to sneak into the coop, the rooster and Mama Hen chased him out and I saw him run for dear life. Opossums don’t generally attack chickens unless they are super hungry. They are opportunistic and will go for fallen fruit or leftover feed before killing prey – but will go after a chicken if hungry enough. They are good little creatures to have around as they are the only natural defense we have against ticks. I am so sorry about your chickens, though. Here in Connecticut, we have so many predators working against our flock – raccoons, fisher cats, bobcats, bears, coyotes, owls, and hawks! Red tailed hawks got a few of mine over the years. It is always upsetting to lose a chicken! Stay warm – I hear more snow is on it’s way to us. After yesterday’s beautiful, warmer weather, today’s frigid weather with snow on the way makes me think that Mother Nature is mean! Thanks for dropping by! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  8. Denise Daniel says:

    Hi, there – from a fellow Texans! We have been getting some of your cold weather here with people losing power and water for days. Plus they are doing rolling blackouts across the state. Brrr!

    Enjoyed reading your blog and learning more about your Farm Girl life! 😀

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Denise, Hello and welcome to the blog! I am so glad you’ve “dropped by”! I hope you are staying warm there! I know that when it is cold there, it is bone-chilling because of the humidity and the fact that the state and structures there are not set up for our kind of winters. My relatives currently have no power or water. I hope you all get warmer weather soon, and your power on. I know too well how awfully hard it is when the power goes out. Thanks again for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  9. Cheri Bregel says:

    my daughter earned her Gold AWard as well (son was able to earn Eagle Scout). WAY TO GO THAT IS a HUGE accomplishment. They often really dont have a clue how amazing it is until later into their midtwenties- and it often takes alot of support and encouragement from the parents- good for you!!!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Cheri, and CONGRATULATIONS to you, your daughter, and son! WOW! That is wonderful they both got their awards! It felt like a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get there, but oh how proud I am of her! Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  10. Kathy McKenna says:

    Hi!
    I grew up in Ridgefield from 1961-2007 when mom sold the house on Silver Spring Road. Your photos were beautiful and congratulations to your daughter for her persistence and love for animals! I see where that came from!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Kathy, thank you so very much! I am very proud of my daughter’s accomplishment. I never thought we would go that far when I took over the troop as a leader in fifth grade, let alone that she would go for the Gold Award!

      I wonder if our paths ever unknowingly crossed in Ridgefield when you lived there? Such a beautiful town. Thanks so much for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  11. Barb Shanks says:

    This blog was so enjoyable. Thank you so much. Stay safe.

  12. Juie says:

    Always love your blogs…
    You have made a “rough” month seem
    happier. Love seeing your “sweet chickens” Radio your opossum…
    Thrilled your daughter Audrey won her well deserved award…
    I’ve been sewing, but you’ve made me want to bake some bread…
    Thank you for your “great pictures”
    It makes me think Spring is “just around the corner”

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Julie, thank you…life is a gift so we have to make the best of it, and realize we can only control what we can. I think attitude is a lot. It warmed up yesterday to a steamy 50 degrees (today it was back to subzero), so yesterday I cleaned out the coop. It was nasty as everything was frozen. I had to hand carry (no wheel barrow or tractor due to snow) seven, big, heavy buckets across the yard in knee deep snow to the compost…not fun, but I thought, “what a thigh buster work out, and I am outside in the sun”. I can whine, though, don’t get me wrong, but I try to keep a positive perspective, and choose to be happy. I can just see you sewing away, too! By the way, Radio was just here, peeking out at me! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  13. Beth says:

    Congratulations to Audrey! And, I’m so glad that you’re OK after that chicken coop adventure! Being on the shorter side of things does have its advantages….
    Here in the NW, we’re just coming back to power (so thankful for heat and electricity!) and all things internet, cable, cellular. Four days of that can really widen one’s perspective! I know that weather we had is heading across the country — so do stay safe and warm. It’s nearly 50 here today (crazy winter!) so hopefully we’ll be sending that along to you soon as well!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Beth, we are good here, just tired of the cold and ice. We are equipped for it, though, and it comes with living here. However, in Texas, my friends and relatives are currently really suffering. I hope they get electric, water, and their usual warm weather soon! Enjoy your fifty degrees! Hang in there! Thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  14. Marilyn says:

    Glad you were not hurt any worse. The snow storms seem to never end. Here in new York we received 16-18 inches of snow and 3 more another day. Tonight we are expecting 5-8 inches tomorrow into Friday. Congratulations to your daughter.
    Marilyn

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Marilyn, thank you! It definitely could have been worse, that gate is steel! Thanks for the congratulations, and keep warm! Mother Nature has been mean, that is for sure! Just think spring! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  15. Marge Turner says:

    I wish we had more snow! Maybe I should be more careful what I wish for We are at the tail end of a terrible cold snap in central Wisconsin with highs -0 for many days. In the meantime I’m loving my Mary Jane’s calendar-it’s beautiful! And I’m organizing my seeds getting excited about the gardens and flower beds

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Marge, I am so happy you are enjoying your calendar! Right now, we are getting some snow again. I will be starting my indoor seeds soon. It is hard to believe that soon I will be thinking of getting outside. A few more months and a good thaw, and spring will be here. In the meantime, stay warm! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  16. Carol J Cunningham says:

    Hi Nicole! As a lifetime GS, please send my congratulations to your daughter! That’s a BIG woohoo!!!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Carol, Thank you ever so much! Yes, we are so very proud of her! I can’t get over all the hurdles she had thrown her way with it, but she did it! And our local paper did a write up on her award, with her photo. So exciting! Thanks again! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  17. Linda Marie Hilburger says:

    Wonderful plot. I really enjoyed all of it. I may try baking bread. It has been ages, you have me inspiration. Thank you. Linda

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Linda, thank you so much! Everytime I bake the bread, it gets easier and easier, like I have it down pat now. It is just so delicious, and the way the house smells when it is baking…nothing more comforting or cozy! And guess what – I now tried making crackers from the sourdough discard! They are delicous and easy to do! Let me know how your bread goes! Thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  18. carol jacot says:

    I enjoyed you blog. Yes, south Texas is cold this year.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Carol, Thanks so much! My heart has been down in Texas. It has been so sad to see all that Texas has gone through this winter. Glad your winter weather has thawed out and warmed up some. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  19. Sandi King says:

    Hi Nicole,
    As always, I enjoy your blog and look forward to reading about Your Connecticut. I live in Kentucky and we finally had what I consider a good winter as our previous past winters have been a bit lacking in the white stuff, here today, gone tomorrow like. At least this winter the snow came a lot and stayed around for awhile which I appreciate. I like all 4 seasons to be separate seasons and each to have a good amount of time to be around and enjoyed for whatever beauty they give us. I think Fall is my favorite time. I know some states got hit with unexpected bad weather and I feel for the people who are not used to it and have suffered so much. This whole last year has been an unexpected troubling time for all, and I look forward to spring and better days as we all must do. Keep blogging for all us who receive your column love to know what is happening in your neck of the woods.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Sandi, I am so glad you have had a good winter. Ours has just been so long. I agree with you – I love four seasons and Fall is especially nice. Thank you so much for such a nice comment; it means a lot to me. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  20. Pamela Ann Frey says:

    Nicole, What a great way to end February reading your blog; great pictures, wonderful animals, evoking warm feelings with bread making and sewing topped with your daughter’s perseverance in achieving her gold award. Gets you ready to welcome Spring!
    In rural Central Kansas, we just got through a frigid 10 day spell but kept warm in my old farmhouse and no freezing pipes! I enjoyed making Mary Jane’s apple/walnut and pecan/carrot/raisin cast iron skillet no rise breads–delicious, but will try your sourdough. Recently found the tick info on possums so they are allowed here. Sadly, coyotes wiped out most of my free-range chickens in daylight!! Last summer, though, we were entertained by an armadillo. They eat grubs. Dug up some, but not bad and then some predator got it. They are moving north. CONGRATULATIONS to Audrey!!! As Mom of an Eagle Scout, I know the effort it takes from both the child and Family to get that award. It is an honor and tribute to all of you. Thanks for your posts. Pamela

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Pamela, thank you! My little friend, Radio, has been coming almost every night now. We miss him when we don’t see him. I miss the armadillos I would see growing up in Texas. At the ranch, we had them all over and I just loved to see them. We have a bad coyote problem here, too. I am so sorry about your chickens. Congratulations on having an Eagle Scout! Thanks again for your nice comment. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

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