Swirling in the Polar Vortex

 December was the third snowiest on record for northeast Minnesota
giving us the look of Antarctica or the North Pole.
 We got 40 inches of snow for the month
 (22 inches above normal) 
 amounting to 150 inches for calendar 2013.
 Vigilant Cat is at the bottom of a snow bank
 and the neighbors' pooch struggles to reach the road so that she can harass walkers.
 The goats take advantage of the shoveled driveway
 to scamper madly up and down
 caper furiously
 gaze hungrily at the trees protected by snow drifts 
 nosh on pine needles that the squirrels have knocked down
 and fight over said pine needles.
 On Dec 28 the three former inhabitants of the Ladies Lounge joined the other goats in the big barn
 leading to considerable head-butting as the social hierarchy was renegotiated.
 When they weren't instigating mayhem themselves, Geisha & Viva enjoyed ring-side seats.
 The very practical Momo simply ate as everyone else duked it out.
 Brutal cold moved in late December and early January, with warning of life-threatening conditions.
 From Dec 29 to Jan 10, we enjoyed 13 consecutive days of sub-zero temperatures, the coldest in 20 years.
 As windchills dipped to the 50s below zero, Gov. Dayton canceled school statewide for 2 days, and even local ski areas and skating rinks were closed.
 The smaller heated bucket in the goat barn couldn't withstand the challenge;
the water froze solid and forced ice out the bottom.
 The Farmers got a scare when their indoor propane monitor flashed a warning that they were down to 3% of the tank, since it had just recently been refilled.  Turns out that the monitor freezes up when temps dive so low.
 Barb didn't need to cool milk in an ice bath as usual; a snowbank worked just fine on a day like Jan 5, with a high of minus 8 and low of  minus 29.
Feral kitty comes out from her hiding nest behind the hay bales to enjoy a little sunlight.  With voles and mice safe beneath the deep snow, she's been living on crunchies provided in the barn
and a daily dish of microwave-heated store-bought milk (now that the girls are being dried up in preparation for spring birthings).
The goats are handling the cold as well as Boreas, god of Winter.
The smart ones cozy together in the sun
and they've all developed puffed out winter physiognomies (or are sneaking steroids and getting moon-faced). 
One upside of the killer cold is that it will wipe out a substantial number of emerald ash borers in our area.
Unfortunately, the survivors might give rise to a new generation of more cold-tolerant insects.
The Polar Vortex won't affect forest tent caterpillars, who are due for a major outbreak this year and the next.
According to the Duluth News Tribune, “Forest tent caterpillars (sometimes wrongly called army worms, which are a different species) often emit a greenish-black fluid when disturbed that stains paint and clothing. During the height of defoliation, their excrement often rains down from tree branches above.”  Some fun!
Bubba has been spending a lot of his waking time in front of a heat vent.
Of course, he stubbornly refuses to use the comfy bed placed near the vent
or the comfy bed fitted out with an electric heating pad.
For nap times, he retreats to his usual refuge in the bedroom closet.
Lately he's been showing his age (19 and a half years, the equivalent of 95 human years).  He's slowed down considerably, doesn't eat very much, and is losing weight.
At his check-up last November, the vet said that he's well past the age that most cats (especially diabetic cats) live.  We suspect he's preparing a migration to Cat Heaven.
In cheerier news, blood tests reveal that the entire MeadowWild herd is CAE free and 5 of the ladies are incubating bundles of joy.  Momo is due on March 12
Eclipse on March 25
Cheeky on March 27
Viva on April 2 (what do you bet she's a day early?)
and Geisha on April 6.  Check out Barb's website and put in your order for some cute little goat babies.

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