Ice Cold Water

The creek (that is really a ditch) has been covered in ice thick enough to walk on for months now. In the last few days it has begun to break up, clink and clank its way into life, yesterday great shards of windowpane ice could be seen floating past. Ice floes break up in between, snow drifts drifting, picking up speed and wagging their tails through, making that singing crackle-crick, jingle, tick-tock of melting ice, like cooling metal, the hiss of cooling iron.  A tinging and crickling. A crackle with a song in it. Then the jostle and click of ice shouldering ice shoving and pushing in a crowd trying to get head way.

monday-073 monday-065Of course Sheila lifted her head at the sound of it, headed off and had to be persuaded not to shoot straight over the cliff and down the bank to the ice water.


I made a wee pen for Marcel the Happy in the corner of the sheep’s field, he has a mini culvert for shelter and some company. Only for the day though, at night it is back into the barn for him.


We had not bargained on Daisy who was allowed out for a wander yesterday as the ice has melted. I am terrified of this big gangly cow slipping on ice she is the clumsiest cow I have ever seen so she has not been allowed into the fields for a while. She was out having a mooch when I brought Marcel over to his new pen. She trotted across as fast as she could, her stomach heaving low and loose from side to side and immediately the cow tried to lick the lamb through the fence, she wanted to inhale him, again. With her tiny mewling noises and coy looks.

monday-036 monday-034

Marcel obliged with some loving. But I am not a zoo, he said. You can all go about your business!


Bad news on the bee front though. It reached 56F here yesterday, warm enough for bees to come out on toilet breaks, but when I went down to check them it was grimly silent. With a sinking heart I took the hive apart. The bees were all dead. Scattered across three plentiful trays of honey. They had piles of food.  They had broken formation to eat and must have been caught by a sharp drop in temperatures, unable to huddle back together for warmth, they had frozen. And only recently.  So, so sad.  Evidently the Italian bees often come out when it is not warm enough and often hives are lost because of this. Though it was a brutal winter.  None of this is much consolation.  But this year I cannot think of one thing I did not do. The extreme cold beat us. I am going to give it one last try with my Russian Queen and her hive who arrive in May. Hopefully the progeny will be tougher in these Illinois winters. I need to have bees that are bred for this tough environment. Russians surely must know about the cold.

But the sun was shining yesterday and it was warm enough to work without a jacket or gloves. Everyone took a minute just to stand in the sun, even Sheila.  We all stood a little straighter and even though it was all slosh and deep water sitting on frozen ground  in the fields, there was warm sun.

I hope you all have a lovely day.

Your friend on the farmy


98 Comments on “Ice Cold Water

  1. It is so nice to see a bit of Spring coming your way up there in Illinois….such a long winter may be leaving us…finally. Your farmy folks are so sweet and just looking at them makes me very, very happy and content.

  2. The ice breaking up sounds fierce but I glad it’s getting warmer for you; we’re expecting 8C today but it won’t put a dent in the piles of snow we have.
    So sad about the bees, have you tried warming them up slowly? Maybe they can be resurrected? Marcel is adorable.

      • Insects can often be kept very cold like in a fridge and still live if they don’t freeze totally. So it is a legitimate question I think. Have you considered trying to capture a local wild swarm? And maybe some insulating foam so that the temperature in the hive drops slower when the cold snaps?

      • Some bugs hibernate, for example the cicada bug burrows and hibernates for 17 years.
        We have flies at the cottage that are ‘dead’ throughout the winter and as soon as we open in the early spring and put the heat on, they spring to life! Weird but true.

          • After our 20+ cm dumping of snow, we are now at -15°C with a wind chill that makes it feel like -27°C so I guess the answer is no. But tomorrow should be somewhere in the plusses, hopefully!

  3. That sun was wonderful yesterday wasn’t it? Marcel looks like he is smiling in that 4th picture! So glad he is sharing some love with Daisy. How are the other sheep with him? So sorry to hear about the bees. It has been a tough winter. I know I helped my dad wrap the hives for winter — will have to think on how we did it. Will there be a baby pool on Daisy’s calf — date and gender perhaps?

    • The other sheep want to head-butt the lamb, as he has no mother to protect him, this is why he is in his little corral but in with the other sheep so he can learn how to eat like a sheep and behave like a sheep and when he is bigger he will join the sheep. My hive was wrapped, they had extra food, they had shelter, they had everything I could possibly do except a kind winter. Just miserable. A baby pool, what an interesting idea.. let me think how to do that.

  4. That’s a shame about the bees – I doubt you could have done more for them. The new Russian bees will want a drop of vodka in their water next winter 😉

  5. Must be getting old, having trouble reading the other comments as they are a kind pale grey/silver on blue. Probably my eyes LOL.
    So sorry to hear about the bees 😦 I am sure a lot of things did not survive this brutal winter. Supposed to get to above 70 today, which will very nice. Cold comes back for a while though on Thursday. Winter hasn’t finished with us yet!

    • Oh wonderful the colours have changed an I can read everything now – probably my computer!

  6. Morning Celi :o) Love the new look here, you did a nice job. I just had to ask this…with Daisy being so maternal to Marcel will she get to have some time with her baby when it comes? My grandpa always had his milk cows raise their babies till they could go on the suckle buckle. They always wore a can’t suck on their noses. :o)
    Sorry about your bees, your heart must’ve dropped. have a good day!

    • Daisy and I will share milk. Daisy is prone to mastitis so I will be getting the calf to help out. A cow is less likely to get mastitis with a cow suckling. But this no sck buckle, i have not heard of that.. what did it look like, can I find one for later on? c

      • No suck buckles are cruel and certainly not for a cow prone to mastitis. Please Google it.

  7. The light in your images today reflects spring. So lovely to see. Twas a gorgeous Monday in Minnesota, too. Today we have rain, predicted to mix with, shhhhh, SNOW.

  8. So sorry to hear about your bees. Hopefully the Russian queen and her subjects will be hardy and that this next winter will be warmer. We have only one hive, as our second didn’t make it through the last winter. We bought a queen and brood last spring, but the queen must have died, so we combined the hives and it looks like that hive has made it. There are bees flying about and I can hear a low hum inside, thank goodness. We will wait until it is warm for a couple of days in a row before we go have a look. We also need to order another nuc, the queen and her subjects, to give our second hive another chance. There is nothing like harvesting and eating your own honey! xo

    • and this will be my second summer without honey, I am thrilled that yours made it. mine were alive a month ago, so i can only imagine that last bad bad cold after the bit of thaw must have frozen them. At least they died with full bellies..I an giving it one more chance, if this next hive fails you can have all my supers becase i will have quit..But oh I miss the honey c

      • We know a person here who wraps his hives in Insulation (the pink board you get from Home Depot). Although, we didn’t experience that horrid long cold winter you have his bees came through fine. I am wondering —although I know you wrapped yours —if the insulation would have helped.

        I am NOT a bee person, although I am fascinated with the raising and using of the honey. I am sorry, Celi. Losing animals is always hard.

        ♬♬♬ Happy Saint Patrick’s Day ♬♬♬

  9. Please change this section back to black letters on a white background. Right now, I can read people’s names, but absolutely cannot see the actual comments.

    • actually that must have been REALLY spooky, considering your pleaful message! have a wonderful day today helen!

  10. Wow, that was strange. When I posted, the comment section display instantly changed from grey and beige letters on a dark blue background to perfectly nice black letters on pale yellow,

    • that was me, I cannot get this part of the new format to behave, came in from the barn to find you were all in the dark! So i turned the lights on.. must have been strange to see! c

  11. Sorry about the bees. That is a shame! Here it’s been freezing overnight and thawing during the day – good for the maple syrup producers! My aging eyes can barely make out the comments today, too.

  12. Same happened when I posted. Also, your responses only appeared after I hit the button. Gremlins? 🙂

  13. Good morning! So sorry about the bees. Can they be moved to a warmer location for the winter, if there is such a place? I know zippo about bees, so that may be a stupid question. 🙂 Daisy and Marcel are precious. Definitely put a smile on my face this morning as I drank my morning cup of Earl Grey. I agree about the comments section. It is hard to read other comments. Is there a way to up the contrast between the blue background and the words? I so enjoy reading the comments! Have a great sunny, melty day.

  14. Good morning, so sorry about the bees. So far it looks as if the comments have been fixed from this end–unless something dire happens when I post them.

  15. Pity about the bees, but as you say the Russians should be better acclimatised to the cold, or so I would think… can’t wait for Friday to hear the news if calf is on time or not…

  16. I wonder if Daisy remembers her milking parlour escort? Wow Marcel, head-butting Aunties and Granny on one side and huge Daisy and Ton on the other – make a run for the black leather couch inside. 🙂 Sad about the Bees here. Laura

  17. More snow here tonight, miss c, and likely heading east.We were spoiled with two days of 70 degrees and a glimpse of green in what passes for a front lawn for me. Weeds can be lovely. Your writing never fails to make me happy.

  18. So sorry about the bees C. You’ve worked so hard with them. Hopefully the Russians will do a bit better. I love the last shot of all the sheep, Daisy and Marcel the Happy. Wonderful perspective!

  19. so sorry about the bees. i thought after you reported them to be alive and well last month that they made it but i guess the recent cold weather did them in. i hope the russian bees will be hardier. you need honey! we are in for another storm and single digit weather tomorrow. it is going to be in the 60’s here today. what a winter!

  20. Your bee story sounds oh too familiar. We lost our last hive in April two years ago. They were all out enjoying the sunny warm day, and died that night when the temps dropped to the twenties. I still have not re-stocked my hives. I have been visited by a bee or two while out cleaning the coop or feeding horses during warm days, and I warn that bee to go back and tuck in. We are not out of it yet.

  21. That is too bad about the bees. I’m going to do my best, as I do every year, to keep bees happy in my yard. I’m not ready to keep them just yet, when the kids are gone. AND this post reminded me of Anne of Green Gables, very lyrical writing. xo

  22. I haven’t been over for a visit in a bit, and your blog is just gorgeous! I love what you’ve done. As well, I’m very sorry about the bees. I wonder what this winter has done in hives spread across the country. Fingers crossed with the Russian bees!

  23. I’ve been away over the weekend, and now my mom is a follower and has Marcel the Happy on her desktop! Lovely to see everyone out and about enjoying the sunshine. It will be 70 here today for the third day in a row. I, too, am so sorry to hear about your bees, but truly it sounds like you did all you could do. Mother nature has been fierce and cruel indeed to the midwest this year. Y’all have had a truly punishing winter. Here’s hoping the Russian bees live up to their reputation, and that they are as warm weather hardy as cold weather.

  24. A nice sit or walk in the sun helps all living things. Poor bees – what a worry. Do hope the Russian queen is the answer. Noticed there’s a movement to encourage more people to maintain hives – bees desperately needed. Perhaps the walks will shift the calf into best position and make Daisy’s birthing easier and shorter. That Marcel is charming just about everyone

    • I always liked a wee slow walk when i was vastly pregnant, but she is so heavy on the soggy pasture.. can’t win, but she is strolling about again. Sitting about is no good for anyone.. c

  25. I was not expecting such bad news of the bee front, Celi. Things were going so well only a month ago. How sad and utterly frustrating. Yesterday’s blue skies and later sun in the evening were so very welcome. I’m not looking forward to tonight, though. The last forecast I saw this morning said 8 inches. Enough already!

    • I really really really hope Daisy’s calf does not make an appearance in this storm, it will be Too cold.. I hope she just quietly goes to term.. c

  26. Good morning Celi. Sorry to hear of your bees, I hope the Russians do better. I’m hoping for a bit of advice this morning. My ewe, Marzipan had 2 lambs a couple hours ago, that went pretty well. Marzipan is a first time mom. She is attentive in that she is licking them and when they cry she comes to them, but she doesn’t want to stand still when they try to nurse. They each have latched on once or twice for a brief time but I am afraid they are not getting enough. Anything I should be watching for or doing? They are up and about and I have heat lamps on for them, but am worried.

    • Linda, see if you can get somebody to help you hold the ewe while the lambs nurse. Sometimes a new mom doesn’t understand what her job is. We had ewes we had to put in a stanchion to keep her still while her lambs nursed. In a couple of days it will all work out.

      • Thanks Emily for the advice. I was able to get momma to stand still by putting some sweet feed into the straw on the floor, it took her longer to find and eat it this way. I was able to get the male lamb to latch on a couple times, and he is looking good. I couldn’t get the girl lamb to suck no matter what I tried and she seemed to be getting very lethargic so I got some colostrum replacement and gave her some of this. She is looking better but it is possible she nursed while I went to town. I’m just going to give them some space now. Thanks again. 🙂

        • By the way, the little girl is Agnes, and the little boy is Frances.

          • Thank you Emily for helping out. That’s what i love about the fellowship. Linda, Mama did the same thing the first time, she kept moving away from her lambs, make sure your pen is small enough so she cannot move too far, I did what you did and put food out for her then put the lambs on while she was otherwise engaged. I did this often. With a weak lamb, though there is no real replacement for colostrum, my sheep man said get some warm milk into their bellies to get them up to drink from their mum (which you have done.. good). You can take over later but her milk is very important but you know that. I always worry that they are not getting enough, but those little sips from Mum are very powerful as they only need a little then later they feed for longer. Remember if you are going to supplement agnes, do the same, little sips often. But put her up to her mother first. Well done! and good for Marzipan and as Emily said in a couple of days it will be fine. Keep us up to date and pop back in if you re worried, there are many sheep people here we can ask. c

  27. How sad about the bees. It’s not easy to keep them alive over the winter in a cold climate. There are hives here where we have our cottage. Apparently someone had bees a while ago, but didn’t look after them and they persished. I’m keen to start them up again, but first I’m doing a beekeepers course and planting as many bee friendly plants that I can in preparation. Hopefull next year I might be ready to start the hives again – all of the cottagers are happy about it as they look forward to the bees pollinating their veggie crops 🙂

    Your photos show a distinct spring light – the sun is beginning to increase in strength now. We even see it this far north – and what joy it brings! I can cope with the cold as long as that sun shines. It must be in my antipodean genes.

    I love the picture of Daisy and Marcel nuzzling. It looks so maternal on Daisy’s part. Dear little Marcel seems to have a lot of aunties to help him along in life after that really rough start.

  28. Awe C. You did your very best for the bees…you’ve just had the winter from hell. I’m sure there was a huge toll in the wild bee population, as well. The Russians will survive and if like Mad says, with a little vodka, you will have some kick-ass honey! 🙂
    That Marcel, could he be any sweeter? Does Boo still want to know where he is every minute?

  29. So good to see ya’ll out and about with less padding! Your stories and animals warm my mornings…hugs

  30. Heartbreaking about your bees. We have mason and bumble bees here naturally, but last year there weren’t many. It used to be that a bee man would bring his hives close by so his bees could pollinate the alfalfa fields; but not for the past few years. So maybe I should start bee keeping, but we have cold winters like you. Need to research that. I am so happy that you had a wee bit of warmer weather……more to follow….and not soon enough. Today instead of that lovely pale blue with the comments there is stark black and white. Not soothing on these old eyes.

  31. I am so sorry to hear about your bees, that is heartbreaking. You did everything you could !! I would think the new ones would be more resistant to cold !!
    I hope you continue the warm trend, I cannot imagine being that cold for so long !!!

  32. Sometimes when I cannot read comments on blogs, or rarely the posts themselves, I will highlight what I want to read and that helps.
    Sorry about your bees. Was 75 here in SE KS yesterday and some bugs were about though didn’t see any bees.

  33. I could feel spring in the song of your words and the ice, and the light in the pics. Gorgeous pics of Daisy & Marcel – Daisy has eyelashes to be envied 😉 and Marcel certainly lacks no amount of attention. It’s a tough world for bees even with the best of care. Good luck with the Russians – a little vodka for them, and for you, for courage.

  34. Love the pic of Boo surveying his kingdom…or wondering ‘what the heck’? So Sad about your bees, and after your great care of them…..on another blog I read the beekeeper insulated her hives with big bags of swept up leaves. I know you insulated yours well, I just thought this was such an interesting and eco-friendly way to do it. Her bees are ok, but maybe Colorado is warmer?? or she has different bees …’s a link to the post if you’re interested, scroll down a bit for the pic.

    • Thank you, i shall pop over and see..I hated seeing that punk insulation all winter! a blot on the landscape..the snow itself was a kind of insulationn too.. but sigh.. failed… c

  35. Just love the photo of Daisy and gorgeous little Marcel smooching. Bad luck about the bees but if any bees will be able to survive the winter the Russian bees are the ones to do it.

  36. Marcel is still smiling! What a lovely little home he has outdoors–and all that attention. Daisy is going to be so happy to have a little calf of her own to love on. Our 70-degree days are coming to an end, too, will be below freezing Thursday night. Hopefully we won’t get snow this time around. You worked so hard to save your bees, all that’s humanly possible.

  37. Can anyone tell me how to change the spider icon to a photo please?

  38. Lovely to see the animals soaking up the vitamin D for the skies. We are all overdue an good long course of it!

  39. So sorry about your bees…sigh…this weather has been so confusing for everyone. Marcel looks happy in his new home!
    Do you worry about the animals and the melting ditches? Here when they run toward the Red the water moves very fast and it is deep. Always a worry here…
    Can’t wait til the piggies are born! So looking forward to this! I think they are sooo cute when they are little. 🙂
    I would like to change my icon too! Would like to know too!
    Been out all day practically! Perfect weather! Been practicing heeling with Summer. Warm and sunny til just a little bit ago.
    Hope it is nice tomorrow too! Take care! See ya tomorrow!

  40. a few yrs ago, my beekeeper neighbor put a few hives in a old cut stone cellar, like you have in one of your fields, they survived, but he had to feed them all winter because they were too active,because of the warm inside. he made a bee door opening in the wooden entrance door so they could go out on warm days
    wonder if your bees were moved in there about january, with door open enough to keep temps about freezing, but not 0, would it help?
    my dad used have bee houses, open front shed on stilts type things, about 3 foot deep, by 10 foot long. high enough inside to put several supers on top of hives,and several hives side by side.with big doors in back to have access to change supers ect
    the bee houses would keep wind off hives,shade in the summer, and have a partial wall to put on the front in the fall till spring, it was at the right hight to easily change supers, and do whatever nessary with bees
    my neighbor keeps buckfast bees, i think the name is , they seem to work well here in north central wv

    • goodness ron, you may be onto something there, I shall think upon this solution, there is no door on our root cellar but that maybe be even better.. hmm, now you have me thinking.. thank you.. c

  41. That icy flow up top sure looks more than a creek than a ditch . . . and cold! Love the Dr Doolittle photo at the very end – probably all your four-legged brood having a conference as how to tell you they too are sorry about the bees . . . Hope you survived the latest cold onslaught without further dramas . . .

    • we are under another storm watch, sleet and then snow.. lots of it.. with wind and more cold.. we are NOT amused.c

      • And I think all of us are madly sending hot breaths and ‘fair’ vibes towards Illinois! Bet you are ‘not amused’!!!

        • Still had the Illinois weather radar amongst my ‘favourites’ from the November tornado. Well, 12 hours of snow followed by a fair amount of nasty wind, tho’ the speed not so bad. But oh that ‘chill factor’!!!!! Hope all the love will ‘keep you warm’! Methinks Marcel and the pups will have to head indoors again, but Sheila – please hold on!! Unless giving birth in the middle of the living room is on the cards . . . .

          • yes .. and marcel even has his night light back on in the sunroom, very cosy he is. mostly praying the calf will stay where he is for another couple of days.. so far so good.. I will check her again before bedtime,and have the calf coat on stand by c

            • fFngers crosse!! Shall say a prayer to ‘up above’ when my bedtime due! Ni-ni!! Hope you can sleep . . .

  42. Oh so sorry about the bees. You did everything you could. Russian bees certainly must be able to stand brutal cold. I love Marcel and his whimsical faces. They always make me smile. 🙂

  43. Oh no C! So sorry about the bees. Here’s to the Russians – if anybody knows about the cold its the Russians. Apart from the sad bee news, the rest of this post is filled with so much lovely!
    Have a super day C and hope their is more warm happy sunshine for you today.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  44. I am sorry about your bees, Celi. I hope you have better luck with the Russians. Even though we weren’t as cold here, I too lost many bees. Two weeks ago, I thought they were all gone, no signs of life whatever. II am not brave enough to open the hive when it is cold.) Then the warm weather came and the few, less that a quarter of what I originally had, came out to eat. They are multiplying very rapidly now!

  45. What a bummer, I was hoping that as your bees had made it through the harsh winter so far they might just have made it. You did everything you could. Ron’s idea of the bee house is a good one, I know some European beekeepers use these.

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