Winter in Earnest

After the gloriously prolonged autumn, winter has arrived in earnest.
Except for dusks and dawns,
days tend to be black and white
with just a few touches of color from the evergreens and remaining leaves.
A lone apple hangs on for a while yet.
On December 20 the Farmers participated in the Christmas bird count for Carlton County. Most of the birds stayed away.
Christmas ushered in a substantial storm
almost burying poor Vigilant Cat.
One disadvantage to a metal roof is that the snow waits until the driveway is shoveled
and then comes thundering down in an icy pile that is very hard to remove.
A snow Sword of Damocles hangs over the entrance of the goat barn, too, encouraging the farmers to hurry in and out.
The gentlemen watch the snow from their Cluband then Mr. T ventures out
not about to let a little fluffy stuff keep him from seeing if any does might be wanting to play.
A visiting Desi climbs into the Goatmobile
for a date with Yellow Mellow at Gail's farm.
A calf in the next pen keeps an eye on the romantic action.
With stretches of bitterly cold weather, Barb keeps the suet feeder stocked. Besides Blue Jays, it attracts
all kinds of woodpeckers, from the Downy and Hairy
to the Red-bellied
and spectacular Pileated.
Not unexpected (he had been suffering from kidney failure since last summer) but sad nevertheless was the passing of Julius to Kitty Valhalla.
He was born to a feral mom in the garage of our Duluth home 15 years ago. (Here he patiently puts up with a young Bubba, obtained from Animal Allies to keep him company; Julius was never convinced that this acquisition was a good idea.)
Barb tamed the wild litter and found good homes for his siblings but kept Julius; he was so shy and antisocial that he would have had trouble adjusting to most environments.
He flourished in the quiet Duluth house and then the Farm
picking out the best napping spots
and alternately feuding with and cozying up to Bubba, who keeps looking for him now and seems to miss him at least partly as much as the Farmers do.
In the absence of a warm Julius, Bubba settles for whatever lap is available.