As I write this we are at an almost balmy -26C/-15F with a wind chill of -34C/-29F, and we’re supposed to continue to get warmer over the next couple of days.
Remarkable how our ideas of “warm” and “cold” change, when living somewhere that has such temperature extremes throughout the year!
Yesterday evening, I’d treated the outside cats with a warm, meaty broth over their kibble top up, but this morning I found quite a bit of the kibble in frozen broth! It froze before the cats could eat it all, and the crowd of them was eating fast when I went back inside.
While the outside cats clearly don’t like the cold, they are doing quite all right, and spend a lot of time outdoors, instead of in one of the many shelters they have available for them. Seeing Chadicous exuberantly rolling on the snow sort of hits home how different the outside and inside cats are. It’s also a reminder of how important it is to let the outside cats develop their natural defenses against the cold. These are from generations of outdoor cats. They have the genetics to develop that insulating fur and body fat they need. Yes, they can still freeze, and having the heated cat shelter is a good thing, but it is equally important that it not be too warm in there, as that would seriously mess them up and potentially harm or kill them.
If our inside cats ever got outside in the temperatures we have now, most of them wouldn’t last more than an hour, even though most of them either started out as outdoor cats, or are from the same gene pool. Then there’s Fenrir. She has her long fur, but no undercoat, and that’s why we brought her indoors during her first winter. I don’t know where she came from or what breed she is, but it certainly wasn’t from any local cold-hardy genetics! A cat like David, with his long fur and deep, thick undercoat, would last longer, but having been in a warm house all the time, not even he would last long if he suddenly ended up outdoors. This is where going out through the sun room has its benefits, as it gives us two buffer zones, should the cats try to dash outside. Oddly, only Fenrir seems to actually be trying to do that. While other cats make a run for it, they’re more interested in exploring the old kitchen. Fenrir has managed to get as far as the sun room before we’ve caught her. In fact, going for the sun room door is the one sure way to get her out from under the couch in the old kitchen, or from behind the old wood cookstove, where we can’t reach her. I try to watch out for her before opening the door into the old kitchen, but it’s like she’s waiting for me. Many times, the moment that door opens, she appears out of nowhere and is in the old kitchen before I have a chance to react in any way. Knowing we’ll try to get her out, she immediately hides in places we can’t reach her. Sometimes, the only way I can catch her is to go into the sun room and leave the door open behind me. She always goes for it, and I can usually manage to catch her rather quickly after that.
When we win the lottery 😉 and can finally renovate this place, one thing I would want to keep and repair is all the doors between sections of the house, and add even more in places. None of this “open concept” stuff. 😀 We once lived in a house that had doors between every room, including at the bottom of the stairs to the second level. I ended up really appreciating being able to so easily close off portions of the house, partly because it was even worse to heat than this one, and closing up rooms helped keep things warmer. We stopped using the second level completely in the winter, closed off the door at the stairs and added a draft blocker at the bottom to stop the waves of cold coming down. It was an awesome house, but yikes!
Ah, memories… 😀
Before I headed outside this morning, I saw deer at the feeding station. The usual doe and her little one, looking for any seeds the birds hadn’t finished off yet. I wasn’t at all quiet while setting food and water out for the cats, so it was a surprise when I came around the corner with feed and scared off two deer! I think they’ve gotten used to the routine, though. After putting feed out, I went back inside, and already could see the doe through the living room window. I quickly hung my coat, then went to watch when I saw the little one come bounding joyfully along the edge of the spruce grove to join Mom.
These two come back several times a day, now. Every once in a while we’ll see a buck but, so far, that’s about it. Later in the season, I expect we’ll start to see more deer coming by and will probably start to leave out more feed again.
I’ve left the remains of a sunflower there, because the birds like to perch on it. 🙂
The 14 day forecast is interesting. Of course, it changes pretty much every time I check it, but the middle of the month is looking like it’s going to be quite mild! For all the cold we’ve been having in the last little while, this winter is shaping up to me so much nicer than the last couple of years, and a lot more like our 30 year average than the unusual cold we had during those polar vortexes.
We have been working towards being set up and ready, should we be stuck at home for weeks again, but this winter is looking like we’ll actually be able to get out and about like normal. No frozen vehicles! Hopefully, this will run through February, too. The way things are going, I’m hoping to pick up some (not-frozen) soil and maybe even a warming mat, to get some seeds started in our aquarium greenhouse. People in my cold climate gardening groups have already started things like peppers and tomatoes, but I’m mostly looking to start onions and shallots, first.
Plus, we still have to decide what seedlings or root stock we’ll be ordering this month for planting in the spring. 🙂