Heading into the Gray Days of Winter

A gray day with dead, brown plants
A month ago, this was green and yellow with bees collecting pollen. Today it is dead and brown as winter closes in.

It was a gray day today. In fact, it’s been a gray week. Fog has been a daily occurrence, and it rained twice since Sunday, although it hasn’t measured even half an inch. Too bad, we could use more rain.

There’s something about the added moisture in the air that makes the cold seep into your bones. Forty-eight degrees isn’t that cold until you add some wind and fog to the mix. Then it cuts through your clothes like it was 28°F.

While the skies have been gray, the mountains are brown. Except for a few patches of pine trees, all you see are the brown stalks of flowers and the dead oak leaves clinging to their tree limbs like a child to its momma’s skirts. Oak is the last tree to leaf out up in the spring and the last to let go in the fall. But that’s OK, it lets the red, oranges, and yellows of the Maples and their colorful friends shine through. Then you wake up one morning and it’s just brown. Brown and gray.

Once these leaves drop, we’ll see the bones of the mountain. Right now, you can get a hint, but in two weeks, you’ll see the big boulders, the bedrock that has pushed up and resisted the influence of weather and mother nature, refusing to wear itself into dirt. On one side of the valley, we have jagged boulders that jut out at sharp angles. On the other, the stones are rounder, as if they rolled into place. I always imagine that some tectonic plate shift of yesteryear shoved the pointed ones upwards, which caused the round rocks to roll down the newly created hill until they wedged together into what are now boulder fields.

Looking Ahead to Winter

We are at that stage when the fun days of fall, with warm sunshine and brightly colored leaves, have fled, leaving us with the nothing but the promise of winter. It grows cold every night, and each day we must debate whether it makes sense to light the woodstove or put on a thicker fleece. So far, we light the stove only when it rains. I see that ending in another two weeks or less.

I haven’t seen a bee leave its hive for days. This weekend, I’ll remove the Apivar mite treatment and cover the hives with tar paper to cut down on the wind. I may even add a layer of insulation to the top to help the cluster of bees stay warm.

Chores are winding down. I’m looking forward to working in the wood shop, assembling hive boxes and building frames. So far, replacing the garage door with a man door has helped the temperature in there stays at 60° or above. We’ll have to see how the temps in there hold up when we get below freezing.

Prepping for Hunting Season

One of my neighbors is an 82-year-old man who goes to the hospital more often than I go to Walmart. Despite his health problems, he’s one of the nicest, most generous guys you could ever meet. Real salt of the earth type.

First round from a new gun
This was the first round fired from a new gun with a scope that had just been bore sighted. That’s a great job of bore sighting!

He still goes fishing, but he used to be quite a hunter. He decided he wanted to get one last deer this year. Apparently, he’d given all his hunting rifles to his kids and grandchildren, so he bought a new bolt-action rifle in .308 and had a 4-12x scope put on it. He also picked up a FieldPod stand to help him steady and shoot the rifle. Then he asked me to sight the rifle in for him because it had only been bore-sighted.

I generally think you should sight in your own weapon because your eye and my eye are bound to be different, but I’m not going to bust this guy’s chops. I take his gun and ammo home and set a target at 25 yards to check to see if it is on paper.

Well let me tell you, whomever mounted the scope and bore sighted this rifle sure knew what they were doing. I’ve never seen the first shot out of a freshly mounted scope get so close to the point of aim. It’s certainly better than I could do. It was enough to make me wonder if it was because of the new monolithic mounts, which have got to be better than two separate rings, or if the gunsmith was just that skilled.

Anyhow, I pushed the target out to 75 yards and dialed in the scope. He’d going to be shooting at 60 to 80 yards, so this should be perfect.

It’s always nice to get some range time in, and it is even better when it’s someone else’s ammo!