Sundogs – like bookends for a frozen day.

Yesterday was officially freezing.  Real freezing cold. Not that fake cold when your dressing gown is in the dryer and you have to run to the toilet in your nightie and the toilet seat is cold and you shiver and say God that is cold. No, this was real cold. Razer cold that shaves at your face and leaves it stinging for an hour after you come inside. Cold that keeps your mouth closed because there is no word for it. Cold that brings pain. When you come in you take the boots off your numb feet and then with your jacket still on you walk to the fire and stand there, trying to get your gloves off, waiting for the pain to lift so you can move again. Real cold.

I took this image at dawn yesterday.  I did not know at the time that the sun on the left was a Sun dog. Having never seen one before.  But annoyed that I could not fit both in the frame. blizzard-day-two-014

And thought very little about the shot for the rest of the day. We proceeded through the day. It was way too cold and way too windy to get the tractor out and move snow.. sundogs-006

and the roads were not plowed anyway so we were  snowed in, engaging in the usual low grade bickering about who makes the best coleslaw that comes from being locked up with too many dogs in the house for two days, yet hauling about getting things done.  But being snowed in also gives one permission to do nothing at all so lots of that was done too, letting the wind go about its business of making snow drifts then unmaking them. sundogs-023

When I was out and about doing chores I noticed the dogs lifting alternate feet and running on three, then running on another three, like chickens raising one leg to warm it but at full speed.  Doves had come into the chook house to sit as close to the warm lights as they could.  A starling was seen sitting next to a chicken sitting next to a pig. Peahens perched on precarious beams directly above heat lamps.  Sheila the pig was allowed a warm beer with dinner.  Daisy and Queenie ate twice their normal amount of hay. Mama The senior ewe clouted Tilly around the head and told her if she did not stop the whining she would be put out into the snow.

When I came in I had to be careful not to put a wet hand on the door handles of the outside doors inside the house, for fear of freezing to them. Doors were frozen shut and put off limits, windows covered in ice.  Eggs froze solid in the nests. Water froze in the buckets. Table scraps turned to ice before they were eaten.

Then after a harrowing day fighting the elements the wind slowly died down towards the evening, the temperatures also rising to -10 by nightfall. A certain peace fell over the farmy. The laying down of arms.

Then in the evening as the sun was setting I saw this.


Another Sun Dog. Isn’t that just amazing. It is caused by ice crystals hanging low in the sky when it is very cold, creating reflections. I am sure the phenomena itself is much more complicated but that is a simple explanation. Does this bode well to see two in a day?

The animals went very still yesterday evening. The pigs slept deep in their straw surrounded in dozing chickens nestled into the same straw. The sheep went into a pause watching the wind go past their immovable door and not come back. The cows stood and chewed their cud, their tears frozen into chandelier drops on their cheeks. The dogs lay at the door, watching their sticks and waiting to go home.

After all the wind and its stinging cargo of snow,  fighting, screaming, scrambling, nipping wind trying to stop me getting to the barn, or getting back home, it was like being in an alternate universe, where peace was a given and breath was everything. blizzard-day-two-036

Today it will still be very cold but no wind. No wind is a blessing. Clean up day. 

We will all have a better day today I hope.

Your friend on the farmy


77 Comments on “Sundogs – like bookends for a frozen day.

  1. Dutch is going to try and get me to work today. Stay warm and be careful out there. No mail this morning they are saying but MAYBE some trying to come this afternoon. Trucks still buried at the plant south of here.

    • Good for Dutch, I have seen lights on the highway.. hope you get through. John is going to try and get me out to do the rounds but we have to dig out of here first. Good luck Connie, bundle up still -11 .. c

      • Country roads still closed on the trip up this morning. We had to bring all the major highways,…they have been plowed but still are snow and ice covered so if Our John gets you dug out be very careful!

        • The tractor still won’t start so we may be stuck til tomorrow anyway.. sigh.. too cold for our vehicles.. c

  2. Down here, we are holding our collective breaths: tonight we may finally, FINALLY get a thunderstorm. Already across the south east of Queensland there has been destruction and flooding from the seasonal storms. Out in the Coral Sea, a large front is gathering up its skirts and trying to decide whether it’ll twirl itself down our way. A cyclone can make landfall anywhere… I’m getting out my emergency checklist and putting batteries and water puritabs on the shopping list… I’m so happy that the weather is settling a bit where you are, and that all your furry friends are warm, dry and comfortable.

  3. I bet Sheila liked the beer!
    Watch out for the back of the camera – people have been known to stick part of their face or nose to the back of them due to the condensation.
    Your last picture above of the trees and snow is stunning 😉

  4. I saw the sundogs, too – but didn’t capture them on camera. Beautiful! Good luck and stay safe with clean-up. We will be tricked into thinking it is warmer than it is! Still dangerously cold.

  5. The sundogs are stunning – the only gift on a horrible day…
    Good to hear the wind has died…even zero will feel warm without it.
    It’s at my house this morning, by the way…along with a steadily-dropping thermometer. Won’t be nearly as bad as yours, though. We’re only going down to 10 or so…

  6. That post is chilling, and I’m not referring to the temperatures. It’s just all so fragile. The balance is a delicate one…the need not to make mistakes, not to overlook something, to always be ready and vigilant. Have you ever read Rick Bass’s beautiful book, “Winter” about surviving that season in Montana? It’s exquisite. I think you might like it. I’m slowly letting my breath out as if I’ve had a bit of a scare. Take it easy and carefully. My best wishes go with you around the farm today.

  7. Bundle up and stay busy doing what you can do. I busted up so much ice here yesterday in that cold I hurt so bad I hope you thaw soon we do get a January thaw in New England I swear I heard the weather man say mid 40’s Sat and more RAIN after so Sat. will be a beach day for JT hard for her to play on our frozen yard 🙁 I can not afford to pay for my broken hip or hers. Love the Sun Dogs! Been seeing them and just watching them and leaving camera inside 🙂 I will say a prayer for a little warmth to hang out on your farm too

  8. A Sundog. Twice. Seeing the beauty and the wonderful through the bitter pain is what it’s all about. THANK-YOU for showing us.

  9. What beautiful pictures this morning! Freezing of course, but gorgeous! We drove home from Washington state in that blizzard a few days ago. About 5600 miles driven for Christmas across the country! The last 1500 were sketchy and I had to keep my eyes closed the majority of the time. I wasn’t driving, of course. 😉

    Yesterday here in NH we had 45 degrees and huge sheets of rain for 12 hours straight. This morning, 3 degrees and there’s even ice on the inside of the windows.

    Stay warm out there…and maybe you too should be drinking some of those warm beers? 🙂

    • My laundry room window is covered in ice ON THE INSIDE!! Too Bloody Cold!

  10. We just watched a lunchtime news report about your weather. Very dangerous stuff, c. They did say that the polar vortex should disperse as quickly as it arrived, so I hope you are soon starting to warm-up again. Stay safe, love.

  11. I hope to never see that sort of cold.

    sent from France in a T-shirt 😉

  12. OK I have had enough of winter now – can Spring please hurry up? Love the pictures but much prefer the ‘Dog Days of Summer’ LOL
    Chickens unhappy I wont let them out, dogs too. And if one more person says to me “So Much for Global Warming” I will scream!! Keep telling them to watch the film “Day After Tomorrow” because to me we are living that film right now!!

  13. Lovely pictures especially of the sun dog. Lovely capture. Stay warm. It is just so awful out there. I will be glad when this streak is over.

  14. Oh goodness, I hope things warm up for you! Out here on the west coast, we’re having a mild winter. We never get much snow to start with, but we’re not getting a lot of rain this year either, will probably have a drought this summer. Ah, well, there’s nothing you can do about it. In the meantime, those sun dogs are amazing!

  15. Your pictures today show us the beauty you saw through the pain & worry. Thank you for your eyes & your heart, Celi.

  16. Warmer here in Minnesota today, but not by much. Schools are closed for the second day in a row.

    Once again, your words and images take me back decades to winters of laboring on my childhood farm on the southwestern Minnesota prairie. I remember that cold. Be careful not to get frostbite, or have you already?

  17. Yes, lets make those beautiful sundogs lucky. Seen a lot of Chicago in our news today – don’t stand still too long in one place – we would hate for you to be frozen to the spot in that lot 🙂 Really hope you start getting much warmer really quickly. Sending you a South African sunbeam to help. Laura

  18. I’ve only seen a sundog once in the winter 2009/10 where we got a taste of what you are experiencing this year – that once in a lifetime winter. Here they call that sort of winter a “wolf winter” as even the wolves drift into town looking for shelter and food. I agree that it is a magical and eerie experience to see a sundog (I can imagine that there are a lot of old legends associated with them as with many weather phenomena in these far north climate zones).

    Keep safe and warm!

  19. I am feeling very “soft” as I read about how cold the farm is and how you go about what you must do with such determination and good temper. I have to confess I had never given much thought to how hard it is for farmers in these conditions and how big their responsibilities are. You educate me, Celi, and make my world bigger. The photos are amazing; I’d never heard of a “sun dog.” The frozen landscape is a work of art itself. Such wonders in the midst of what I know must be great hardship for you. Take care!

  20. I have never heard of “sundogs” before – just magical. I love that the animals huddle together to keep warm. I dread to think of the animals that couldn’t find any protection from the cold. I had to wear a t-shirt tonight as the temps have come down to something like normal. Still dry as a bone – the garden is gasping. Joy and the goldens in northern NSW, Aust.

  21. I think the sundogs are a good omen, that this will pass and you’ll make it through. It looks as cold in these pictures as you describe and I’m glad you are being careful about it. We actually have ice on the inside of our north facing windows this morning and it has only warmed to 6 degrees at 10 a.m. in Atlanta. It’s been 20 years since it was this cold here. I hope it will continue to warm for you today and no wind. Take good care.

  22. Two sundogs in one day!!! That must mean all sorts of good things will be happening on the farmy!!! The pics are amazing! I don’t think I’ve ever seen one. Now I’ll at least know what it is if I do see one! Sending warm thoughts your way! xo

  23. I’ve never heard of sundogs. How beautiful. The cold you guys are experiencing is mind boggling. It’s frigid here but positively balmy compared to there. Our dogs get the feet problem and we call them flat tyres. We have to brush them off and rub them. A bit tricky when they get two at the same time. Fingers crossed this polar vortex eases for you.

  24. I didn’t know what a sun dog was until now. And two in one day! Just beautiful ! It’s warming up a bit here in Chicago and is supposed to go into the thirties for the weekend.

  25. Oh C. I am heading back to the midwest today but after seeing your photos and reading the description of that razor cold, I am already dreading it….the sundogs are beautiful and two in one day must surely mean good luck for you in the rest of this bitter weather…I would share some of those warm beers with Sheila, if I were you!
    Warm hugs to you!

  26. Sending you warm thoughts for support! Maybe it helps.
    I’ve been watching the temperatures with horror, as we have friends in South WI!

    Lovely sun dog!
    The funny thing is, that I’ve learned about them two or three weeks ago. I was contributing to a travelling notebook with the theme “Happiness”, for a women in North Finland, where there’s so little sun (if at all) in the winter. So I sent her an image of a sun dog with one real and two fake suns. Never seen one myself though.

    • I think you are even colder than us.. and in the streets you must have might big snow drifts.. c

  27. People in California don’t build big barns anymore. There will be a shed for the sheep, a shed for the cows, a coop for the chickens, and they’re all separate, small buildings. I suppose a big barn is a considerable expense, but what a cozy place for all kinds of critters. And easier, too, for humans who would have to slog around outside carrying feed and water to each of the little sheds.

  28. Thank you for the pictures of the sun dogs. I have heard of them, but yours were the best pictures I have seen. Say, you and Sheila could both have beers together. A toast to a warm Spring, eh? Well, for you, maybe brandy. Bottoms Up!

  29. I’ve never heard of or seen sun dogs before, so thank you. Reading this has made me shiver; I just cannot imagine how cold you feel. Our stables were built American barn style and I now understand why you prefer them grouped under one roof instead of long single lines all with outside doors. Stay warm inside.

  30. I am dipping in and out each day to check up on the farmy, but quickly go back to toast my toes by the fire. Stay safe.

  31. C: help for your frozen face – I learned this while living in Ukraine. If you are walking in the cold, keep mouth closed, and make faces; rotate your lips around, clock and anti-clock; it works!

  32. We get sundogs a lot here in SW Minnesota. And yes, they are pretty neat! It’s been frigid here, too – the entire state had no school yesterday because the governor said it was too cold! (About minus22 WITHOUT any windchill!) Eggs freezing in their nests, though…that’s an image I’d never had before!

  33. the sun dogs were stunning and seeing two in one day? that has to be a sign of some special blessing – oh please let it be above freezing temperatures.
    ” A starling was seen sitting next to a chicken sitting next to a pig” this ought to be a line in a children’s book!

    • He was a rather startled starling too, but determined to edge into the warmth. Hope you have got your hot water back!.. c

  34. So glad you got a second chance with the sundog! I have never heard of one before. We are getting your weather a day later, so today is unbelievably cold in Western PA. Willis can’t understand why we aren’t out on our daily walk – dogs don’t seem to mind the deep freeze!

    • I know, mine are getting cabin fever, we went out and threw sticks for a while this morning but any more than that is just too cold.. c

  35. I’m surprised that you haven’t seen a sundog before. I notice them quite often in the warmer months (spring & fall more than summer). Your sundogs are bright amd lovely, the ones I see are more muted, smaller and sometimes there will be on on each side of the sun. My grandfather always said that sundogs meant there was going to be a change in the weather. Of course with this being Illinois that is a pretty good assumption. lol You need a ski mask or a kitchen/ tea towel over your face and sunglass or safety glass for when the wind blows the snow. If you don’t get frostbite you can get windburn in weather like this. You will need to take extra care when it warms up to keep the sun off your face because it will be extra sensitive for quite some time. Been there, done that in the late seventies when we had 3 winters in a row of this kind of lovely (not) weather. Hopefully the warming continues and maybe I need to take the kids out and throw sticks for them or at them (would help my mood). They are getting antsy and crabby.

    • I used to throw sticks at my children, it helped train them for cricket season! I think I did get some of the burn today.. must be more careful.. c

  36. Well, the NE US/Illinois weather surely must be the most popular subject on our TV news the last few nights [I suppose one could say nothing much must be happening in situ 😉 !] . . . There were long discussions of how it was a very,very rare phenomenon, an arctic ‘hurricane’ having been pushed two thousand kms south to cause all the havoc [well, the knowledge does not make it any warmer for you!!]. Even the Governor of illinois is a familiar face here now!! Had never seen a ‘sundog’ . . . something interesting on a dismal day!! And love how the misery has joined the animals in the barn to seek warmth together – may it soon be over!!!!!!

  37. We are also caught in the incredible windy cold. Has been for the last 3 weeks, except for yesterday when it hit 40F and rained like a bugger. Now everything is sheet ice everywhere. Good luck digging out!

  38. Had never heard of sun dogs before. Fascinating, and beautiful! We’re shivering down here in Kentucky, too, even in the house.

  39. Absolutely beautiful and fascinating Cecilia. I have only seen photos such as yours of Sundogs and find the image enchanting and surreal. You stay safe and warm.

  40. Beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing the sundogs. Stay warm and stay safe.

  41. I can’t even imagine trying to keep everything going on those antarctic days… wonderful that you manage to keep everyone else warm too… do you keep the wood burner on all night in the house???

    • yes the fire goes night and day, but is not keeping up with these temps, we are a bit chilly in here, still it will warm up a bit soon.. c

  42. I love taking photos of sundogs but I’ve never seen one quite like the one on the right…it’s almost vertical!

  43. , For some unaccountable reason, the day before yesterday there was no post on your blog, so I worried about you all day. This morning your masterpiece of beautiful writing appeared, dated 7th January, so my worry was pointless! Your woolly hat is coming on slowly, so I hope you get it before the next “really cold” comes!. I spent yesterday afternoon, when I should have been knitting, in putting together a collection of 40 poems for submission!

    You should publish this piece somewhere where it can be seen by more than just your myriad of followers!
    Love and warm hugs,

  44. Aw, this post really touched me. I have always loved sundogs. That is, in fact, where my pen name, “littlesundog” comes from. I always felt like a little beam of light in this big, old world. Most people never notice sundogs, but I see them often here – especially in the late summer (not sure why) and sometimes in the winter months.

    Do you have an ear-flap cap? I always found them to be the best headgear for winter.

  45. Thank you for telling me about snow dogs, gorgeous photos. I shall be looking out for them from now on to be one of my beautiful things. Here in Cornwall, UK, it’s mild and very, very wet with storms and floods(not us fortunately) . Your snow looks very beautiful and your description of the cold has given me the shivers indeed. That’s some cold! 🙂
    PS You have a new follower!

    • You are very welcome to the lunge of comments.. I shall pop out and visit your blog from cornwall after chores this morning.. c

  46. Reblogged this on Anne Lawson and commented:
    Here in Melbourne we are heading into a week of temperatures in the high 30s, low 40s C. Last week I watched news items and read blogs about the freezing cold in the US. Celia’s blog really brought home to me about how cold that cold really is. I cannot imagine cold like that. I would be so unprepared, mentally as well as physically, for those freezing temperatures that I would not cope. So I am in awe of everyone who did.
    A wish to all my blogging friends — may the temperature in your house be just right!

    • I hope reblogging this was okay, Cecilia (And just realised that I have misspelt your name! Oh dear 🙁 I will edit that immediately.) It seemed to describe up the cold perfectly! And the photos were stunning too! I will think of you in the cold as we swelter in the heat of this week.

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