It is a wonder that I have my where-with-alls to type this! This bitterly cold weather is suitable for a musk ox, or an Arctic fox, or a whole bevy of caribou!

I am sorry, but this is beyond my comfort level. Wait a minute! There is a polar bear walking through my yard! Sakes-a-gracious! Oh… I am mistaken. It is my neighbor’s big, white fluffy dog.

At present, the wind is blasting from the northeast with a wind chill of -17 degrees. That is just too cold. I can’t imagine the people living in our northern states and upward into Canada. BRRRRRRR!

I know I would not have made a good pioneer, an Inuit, a Voyageur, or an algid explorer. Since I was a child, out ice skating on outdoor rinks and sledding down hills in the suburbs of Chicago, my hands and feet always became bright red and numb. To this day, many moons later, they are the first to go glacial on my body.

I ventured out this morning to feed my beautiful backyard birds who were nowhere in sight. My feeders were empty and the seed on the ground was covered in new snow. I suddenly felt guilt for not having their breakfast ready.

Heavy coat, gloves, fluffy, thick hat and a heavy 20-pound bag of seed, I conquered the severity of winterness, and the birds received some needed sustenance.

The first birds to return were the dark eyed juncos in a plethora of little gray puff balls. Then the goldfinches, then poofy blue jays, just a few cardinals, and soon voila, I have a bazillion hungry birds of all varieties.

What is missing is the immeasurable thrall of blackbirds, grackles, cowbirds, et.al, who normally dump the seed to the ground. Maybe they are tucked away in a nice warm barn...I hope.

I hope all flocks and herds and coveys and droves and people are safe in this severe and dangerous time of winter. I dislike this kind of weather.

~~~

I want to thank the winners of the Soil Conservation Awards this year. I recently read about all the farms in the newspaper, some of whom I knew and others I did not, but my appreciation is extended to each and every one of them.

I wish I could own a large chunk of land and plant a place of beauty and peace for all wildlife to enjoy. Then practice crop rotation and soil disciplines to be a pure environmentalist.

I liked the idea of planting wildflowers within grassland areas like the Cornetts and Poverty Knob Farm.

The Meinigs I know because they farmed some of my parents’ land. I like their ideas of planting with no-till, cover crops and buffer zones to conserve water and soil and provide places for wildlife to survive. I think these are wonderful ideas.

The concept that their land has been in the family for ages is just mind boggling.

The same is true for the Merle Kaiser family whose land was purchased back in 1907 and was awarded a soil health award this year. I have driven past their farm innumerable times and always notice the terraces in use on their farm.

I truly acknowledge all winners and am indebted to their hard work as environmentalists.

I found a great quote about farming that I want to share: “Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will, in the end, contribute to real wealth, good morals and happiness.”

~~~

Winter is a great time to muse and meditate about spring gardens. One day I decided to look into raised beds on YouTube. There are so many designs and variations. But, what I did find was how to make a winter garden.

I believed this video was probably produced in Florida or California where the temperatures are more suitable for year-round gardening.

No! It showed how to make miniature little gardens in transparent or translucent plastic jugs...like milk jugs. It is a marvelous way to start perennials and a terrific way to reuse plastic containers.

If you look up “winter sowing of perennial seeds” you will find several different videos on the subject. I think they are all helpful.

Once the snow has cleared in my garden I am going to give it a try. I have some butterfly weed seed from last year’s plants, and they will be the first to “go to the jug.” There will be others to follow. I will let you know how it all grows.

I always end with enjoy the outdoors by traversing through the trees and snow and trails. If you are brave and bundled up and warm, please do so. I will watch more gardening videos from the inside.

Beth Conner is a Miami County resident, teacher and outdoor enthusiast. She can be reached at bethconner2019@gmail.com.

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