Rainbows in the Snow

Heading into March we welcome the warmth of the sun on our backs, waiting patiently for the snow to melt and the pussy willows to open for another year. Spring on the farm is one of our favourite seasons. Colourful rows seem more vibrant now against the white snow blanketing our landscape. This is a beautiful place to live and work.  Please enjoy some of the breathtaking scenery we see every day.

 Yellow Curly Willow and the rolling Northumberland Hills beyond.

Yellow Curly Willow and the rolling Northumberland Hills beyond.

Spectacular fire-orange Flame willow.

 Hydrangea, Yellow Dogwood, Cardinal Dogwood and Flame Willow.

Hydrangea, Yellow Dogwood, Cardinal Dogwood and Flame Willow.

 Rainbow fields of The Branch Ranch.

Rainbow fields of The Branch Ranch.

 Yellow Dogwood and Flame Willow.

Yellow Dogwood and Flame Willow.

 A March snow storm enhances the drama. 

A March snow storm enhances the drama. 

Emerging From Hibernation

What a winter!  We bundled up to kept warm, feeding the horses and donkeys extra hay to help them battle the cold, then back to the warmth of the wood stove to watch the birds, rabbits and squirrels forage for seed at the feeders, which where barely visible behind mountains of snow. Not all wildlife suffered with the snow cover, a small hawk took advantage of the situation, spending days patrolling the tunnels of snow between each feeder.

Our rainbow fields are barely recognizable now, only the tops of the tallest sticks can be seen poking through the snow in the otherwise white on white landscape. In rows that once towered over our heads, we  now look down on the tops of plants and wonder when we will see the crowns again. The pussy willow harvest remains on hold while we wait for spring to arrive and the melt to begin. It may be a long wait, with 3ft of snow in the fields and more cold and snow in the forecast all we can do is patrol the fields on skis or snowshoes and watch for "growth" of the coloured sticks when the snow recedes. 

The View From This Side of the Icicle.

Winter is the season of rest for many plants and mammals. After a long growing season and intense harvest, we look forward to wrapping ourselves in winter's white blanket and enjoying the beauty of the rolling landscape which surrounds us. We always welcome the winter snows which offer the opportunity to snow shoe or ski in the fields and woods on the farm.

Sometimes, however, winter's beauty can be destructive and devastating, as it was when the ice arrived on Friday December 20th. For three days we were iced in at the farm, unable to drive and only able to walk to the barn in snowshoes with heavy cleats . We stocked up firewood, and filled pots, jugs and bathtub with water in anticipation of a power outage, bracing for the worst.

Fortunately, we did not lose power this time, but many hundreds of thousands in South Central and Eastern Canada were stranded without heat or hydro, forced to find shelter with friends and families or at community centres for days which extended over the Christmas holidays. Thousands are still without power and suffering from the prolonged outages. Many trees were lost from the weight of the ice and strangely and one week later, with dropping temperatures and little sun, the trees and branches are still covered with that same ice and now an additional layer of snow. With winds forecast for tonight and tomorrow, the after effects of this storm may still be felt for some time. 

On a brighter note, the icy landscape is a photographers dream. When the sun appeared we were delighted to discover a sparkling, frosty, bejewelled landscape, covered with inches of glistening ice, the branches in the fields resembling an underwater scene of coral and seaweed. It was so cold when these photos were taken the iPhone 4 that took them kept powering off. 

Flame willow, once towering above our heads, now bows down gracefully before us, it's vivid orange bark still visible through layers of ice, softened to an indescribable shade. 

Tall green curly willow appear to writhe and swirl in a fierce struggle against the weight of their icy encasement.

Hydrangea, dwarfed by almost a metre of snow and ice at it's feet, flower heads laden heavy, arching to the ground as if to show exhaustion from it's rapid, vigorous growing season. 

And then there was snow...