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Reflections on the Recent Freeze

by Alma M. Womack


I don’t know about the rest of y’all, but I am glad that we’ve had a real winter with weather cold enough to kill the contrary hyacinths in our bodies of water. Driving by the lakes, seeing all that brown, dead vegetation just puts a smile on my face.


Unfortunately, just about every perennial plant in my yard has that same brown, dead look, because it IS dead. I had a goodly collection of perennials so that I didn’t have to plant so many pots every spring. Now, I’ll just have to wait and see if any of them come back from their roots or if they are, indeed, gone. If completely dead, some will be replaced. Others will be fond memories, not because I don’t like them but because I get tired of watering flowers in July.


Really and truly, I did cut back on the pots I planted last year, and that did make watering easier. In fact, August was so wet that I hardly moved a water hose. Of course, the August rain did a number on the pecans and cotton fields, and that hurt a lot worse than having to pull a water hose around this big yard.


Since we have to turn our articles in a month ahead of time, we are still in February’s winter weather as I type. It is cold and rainy, and the Tupelo Brake is climbing the hill up into my yard. The worst part of the cold is that I have no real firewood this year. Last year I probably made five fires the whole season, and a couple of them were really not necessary.


Silly me, I thought I had enough wood for this winter. Mike Duncan even cut some this fall to add to the stack under the mule barn. In the great January freeze, I just about went through what was stacked up and so have very little left for now. It’s not the right time to cut good firewood, and I found out that the downed tree that Mike cut up for me would burn, but put out little heat.


Here I sit in the middle of nowhere with woods all around me, and I will have to buy firewood to finish out the year. This will not happen again. Mike will pick out some good river birch this summer, and cut them into burnable pieces. We will stack them under the barn where they will season for the winter fires. I had much rather pack wood and build a fire any day than listen to that heating unit run. With a fire in the fireplace and a lightweight jacket or sweater, I can be comfortable all the day long.


When we had those few nights of below twenty degrees, I was worried to death about my dogs. I have beds on the floor of the carport for them and had an electric heater that wasn’t very effective. It just wasn’t enough for them to stay warm, but Jorie and Aaron came to the rescue. They have a very successful hay business and put up many, many bales this year. There were a few bales that Aaron wasn’t satisfied with, so he wouldn’t sell them. Jorie told me that he had used some to make an enclosure for Woodrow’s goats, so we figured it would work for dogs, too.


Jorie picked me up one day, and we rode over to the hay barn where Aaron loaded about a dozen rectangular bales of hay. We brought them to my carport; and with Woodrow’s help, Jorie and I unloaded the hay and made an enclosure for the dogs. We arranged their beds near the hay wall, so that the hay would give them extra protection. It worked wonderfully well for them. In fact, it worked so well that it is still in place and will be until the warm weather is here to stay. It’s a bit comical to walk out and see all five dogs still lying in their cozy little bunker in the middle of the day. It has become their haven and has made me less worried about their condition in the cold. (It is messy, but I can live with the mess for a while if it helps my dogs.)


I did find out something I had forgotten: a bale of hay is heavy. We had watched Aaron sling them up in the back of the truck as if they weighed about ten pounds. Trust me, they do not. When it came time to remove them from the truck, Woodrow pushed them to the tailgate, and Jorie and I (mostly Jorie) unloaded and stacked them. Thanks to their hay and good idea, the dogs kept warm in the coldest cold spell I can remember, here in the midst of all this global warming.


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