I happened to be photographing birds one day when a sudden snowsquall occurred. It was some of the heaviest snow and the largest flakes that I’ve ever seen on the farm. It only lasted for a short time but it was fun to watch. It was so heavy that I had to manually focus the camera.
It’s been a bummer of a winter. A couple of weeks ago we were scheduled to get some light flurries several times during the day. As it turned out there wasn’t much to it except several times during the day we has some spectacularly large snowflakes. They were over an inch in diameter and larger than anything I’ve seen on the farm. I grabbed my cameras and started photographing birds during these brief heavy flurries.
This last photo was taken of the large snowflakes against a background of White Pine trees.
After a snowfall I walked out through the prairie to get some photos of last summer’s flowers.
Overnight we had a fresh snowfall. The next morning it was clear, bright and very cold but the wind was not blowing. The snowflakes were hanging on all of the summer flowers so I walked around the prairie and took some shots just before the wind started blowing.
With not enough snow for cross country skiing we decided to drive over to the Bjornson Education-Recreation Center for a hike on a cold day. Bjornson has a number of spring fed streams flowing through it. Watercress usually can be found growing on the streams. If it is cold out the watercress will be covered with frost flowers.
It was a dull day with not a lot to photograph but there were a few weeds sticking up out of the snow that made for an interesting pattern.
Further along on the trail we crossed a bridge covered in snow.
Our second stop on our skiing road trip was Calumet, Michigan were we skied the Swedetown Ski Trails. We love Swedetown because of the fantastic snow they receive. As soon as we arrived we headed out onto the Backcountry Trail. This is a trail that winds through the trees. It is packed occasionally but usually not tracked.
The snow on the trees was something special. It looked like they had wet snow driven into the trees by strong winds creating a winter wonderland of a landscape.
Along the trail we reached one of my favorite photography locations. This is a stand of pine trees framed in the snow.
As it turned out we really lucked out because the trails had just been packed for the first time. Warm weather had made it impossible to pack the snow in the swampy areas until earlier in the week.
Skiing Road Trip
When TV news reports show over four feet of snow on the ground in Northern Wisconsin it can only mean one thing. Ski Trip!!! This is the earliest we have been skiing since the Halloween Blizzard of 1991 that dumped over three feet of snow on the farm.
As things worked out we had tickets for the Dang-its performance of Sweet Dreams & Honky Tonks Revue at the Park Center in Hayward, Wisconsin on Saturday Night. A large crowd was treated to the songs of Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash and a brief history of each.
The next morning we were up early for the drive to ABR in Ironwood, Michigan. ABR is the premier cross country ski area in the Midwest. They had been struggling to get the trails groomed because the ground was not frozen and they had been getting over a foot of snow every day. They did have open 40 km of trails. Some were still closed because of the ground and it was deer hunting season in Michigan.
There were quite a few folks out getting their ski legs on their first ski of the season. It was mainly overcast with the sun breaking through late in the morning. At twenty degrees it was just right for skiing. A rare selfie.
On Friday Afternoon we headed up to Calumet, Michigan to watch the CopperDog 150 Sled Dog Race and to so some cross country skiing at the Swedetown Ski trails. This year there were over 40 teams involved in the two races. The trip took a little longer than expected. The roads in our area as still covered with an inch of ice and some of the main roads had icy patches on them.
We arrived just in time to get our cold weather gear on and head over to the start of the race. The first stage of the CopperDog is run at night and involves teams racing all three stages as well as teams racing the CopperDog 40 which is the first stage of the race. While my wife, first photo, was intimated by the very cold conditions apparently not everyone else was.
Before the race we like to walk around and watch the mushers get their teams ready for the race. This involves getting the dogs out and feeding them. Once they are fed they are put back into their houses until race time. I was watching one racer chop up frozen meat to heat up. It makes something like s soup for the dogs. All of the dogs were attached to a single chain along the side of the truck when one end of the chain came loose and all of the dogs ran down to the next truck to visit. It took the mushers a while to get them untangled.
The CopperDog is run on 150 snowmobile trails in the Keweenaw. Just before the race starts a team of snowmobilers head out onto the trail to make sure the trails are clear and signs are posted to watch out for sled dog teams. It is also necessary to make sure the sled dog teams safely cross the roads.
The start of the race takes place on the main street of Calumet. The day before the race they bring in snow and cover the street with snow. This year it wasn’t a problem getting snow since they have had almost 300 inches.
We took up a position right across from the announcers booth where the race starts. When the teams arrive at the starting line the dogs are out on the course and the sled is held at the starting gate. The sled is then hooked at the starting gate so the dogs can’t take off. Since the dogs are raring to go the sled can spend some time in the air as the dogs try to head out onto the course. In addition to being cold it was also snowing. It takes a lot of volunteers to make a sled dog race happen and sometimes the dogs are a handful in their exuberance to get out onto the course.
We watched about half of the race from the starting line but then started to get cold feet standing for over an hour so we decided to get a hot drink and walk around watching some of the preparation activities. Some of the dogs were still waiting to get hooked up while others were already on the course.
This is a volunteer trying to hold an exuberant dog back before they headed to the start of the race. In the background you can see a dog with a red light on its harness. Most of the lead dogs have lights so the musher can keep track of where the dogs are.
After the start of the first stage of the race we headed back to the motel for a hot meal. More Photos from the Race can be found on my website.
May started off with a bang. I started snowing on the evening of May 1st, continued all day on May 2nd and finally ended mid day on the 3rd of May. Well over a foot of heavy wet snow. It was difficult photographing birds because of the heavy snowfall and the wet snow hitting the windows but I managed to capture a few of the spring birds at the feeding stations.
I had a lot of White-throated Sparrows around during the storm. I’ve had a few of them around in the past but never this many.
The Northern Cardinals are still around although only a couple of pairs of them. Nothing like the dozen or so I had this winter. They really looked miserable during the storm.
The Dark-eyed Juncos were all gone after a week of 70 and 80 degree weather but a few of them returned after the storm.
The Song Sparrows have been around for several weeks and I suspect they will again be nesting in the bushes near the house. I think any thoughts of nesting have been delayed a bit because of the storm.
House Sparrows are rarely seen around the farm. I’m not sure why. I see them around town a lot but not on the farm. This one turned up during the storm.
There were a pair of White-breasted Nuthatches at the feeder during the storm but I was not able to get a photo of them together.
I’ve had good number of House Finches around the feeder in the past couple of weeks and they turned up during the storm.
The last time I saw the American Goldfinches they were molting. They were not around much during the warm weather but turned up, in small numbers, during the storm. It looks like molting has been completed.
I’m not sure what this bird is. It turned up at the feeder during the height of the storm but I haven’t figured out what it is.
There were a variety of other birds around but I wasn’t able to get any Photos.
April was a wild month. It snowed almost every day for the first three weeks. The last week of April was unseasonably warm. We had temperatures as high as 80 degrees. Our Crocuses came out and were gone in a few days. The Daffodils were just about to bloom. On the first of May I thought about taking the snow blower off of the tractor and power raking the yard but I ran out of time. I spent most of the day stacking firewood cut last fall but not stacked because of an early December blizzard.
Later in the day I started to hear reports of colder weather and a little snowfall on the way. First reports were that it would stick on grassy areas but not roads. It started snowing in the evening and it was sticking on grassy areas but the totals had been moved up to 5-7 inches.
When I woke up the next morning I had over a foot of heavy wet snow and no power. When I reported the power outage there were already over 4,000 customers without power. I was thinking of putting some early seeds in the garden today but that’s my garden in the foreground.
I thought I could get some bird photography in but the wet snow was blowing against the windows and it looked like rain on the windows. I had to manually focus the camera because of the falling snow and the water on the windows.
Fortunately I had some good books to read but after reading most of the day I got a little bored and decided it might be a good idea to try and blow out the driveway so the power company could get in to check the lines. The power lines on our farm go out through the woods so it is one of the places where they usually find downed power lines. It was tough plowing because the snow was deep and wet. As I drove along the snow in front of the blower kept rolling into a ball. I had just about finished when the blower became clogged with snow. I decided to call it a day.
By then I was just about out of firewood because the only heat we had was from the fireplace. I had a little wood in the garage and had almost taken it back out to the woodpile the day before but fortunately I didn’t. With the snow blower out of commission I decided to get a sled down and bring some more wood in using the sled. It was tough going with heavy wet snow.
Late in the day my wife and I decided to drive into town and get some water from her office so we could flush the toilets, recharge our phone batteries and get some hot food. As it turns out the road had not been plowed and when we drove down our hill there were six trees partially blocking the road. We had to weave around them almost going off the road at one point. Once we reached the main roads they were fine. We returned via a different route only to find that the roads had been plowed.
About 2:30 this morning I saw the power company trucks drive up to the hours. One person got out and started walking the power lines down through our hills. Not a job I would want in heavy wet snow. It was still snowing. About 4:30 we received a call that power had been restored. When we woke up it was still snowing out.