From Winter to Spring 2019

I hope that I am not being too optimistic by writing, that I believe my second Winter living in Stará Oleška, is slowly coming to an end. There are now signs of the arrival of Spring, exemplified by these snowdrops which made their welcome appearance in my garden about a month ago. However, Spring is far from being as advanced as it is in the UK, which I’ve seen in photos posted online by friends. Likewise, it is not even as advanced as it is in Prague, which I observed when I visited the Czech capital for a medical appointment last Monday. Being situated up in the hills, nearly 300 metres above sea level, does have an impact.

The view from my front door on 3rd February 2019 © Ricky Yates

We have had plenty of snow this winter as can be seen in the title photograph of this post, last month. Here is the view looking the other way, from my front doorstep. Both photos were taken on Sunday 3rd February when we probably had the heaviest snowfall of the winter.

Stará Oleška at dusk © Ricky Yates

There hasn’t been lying snow all the time. Usually, each time snow has fallen, after a few days it has slowly melted away, only for there to be another snowfall, a week or so later. Higher in the surrounding hills and mountains, lying snow tends to remain nearly all the time, as you can see in this photograph of Stará Oleška, taken at dusk on Saturday 19th January.

As I’ve previously written, the main source of heating for my home is a wood-burning stove, located in the kitchen. My previous supply of logs, delivered in early December 2017, saw me through the rest of last winter, and all the way through the first half of this winter, until January this year. But by the middle of the month, I realised that a fresh supply was required.

My new supply came from a different supplier, with a larger truck, and were consequently more expensive. However, the quality of wood seems to be better with at some of it being well-seasoned and consequently able to be used straight-away.

Unfortunately, the larger and heavier truck, couldn’t be positioned so the logs could be dropped into my garden, but instead, were deposited on public ground, immediately across the driveway at the side of my garden, that gives access to the house located beyond the end of my back garden.

My new supply of logs © Ricky Yates

Here they are, following delivery.

As you can see, at the time of delivery on Tuesday 22nd January, the weather was sunny but frosty. This meant that the ground was frozen hard making it relatively easy to wheel a wheelbarrow full of logs, through the opening in the fence, across the back lawn, to the wood shed on the far side of the garden.

Loaded wheelbarrow © Ricky Yates

This weather held for the following few days, enabling me to shift quite a number of the logs into the shed.

Remaining logs covered in snow © Ricky Yates

But then the inevitable happened…….

Since then, either because of snow, or the ground being far too soft and wet, I wasn’t able to shift any further logs, until last weekend. Fortunately, the Spring-like weather of the past week has enabled me to finally complete the task.

Logs stacked in my wood shed © Ricky Yates

Stacked into the wood shed, the logs are difficult to photograph. This is the best I could manage.

Sections of tree trunks, yet to be moved © Ricky Yates

Unfortunately, there is still more to do. Within my log delivery were these massive sections of tree trunk – twenty-three of them altogether. Each is far too heavy to shift single-handedly. I nearly killed myself just stacking them like this. They will have to be reduced in size, in situ, either by chain saw or axe, before they can be transported by wheelbarrow to the wood shed. And then I wonder whether there will be still room in the shed to fit them all in!

Pruned vine © Ricky Yates

One task that I have managed to complete, is to drastically prune the vine that adorns the front of my house and which each year, has produced an abundance of grapes. I’ve also given the two bushes directly under the front windows, a fairly severe hair cut.

Flourishing vine in late June 2018 © Ricky Yates

But if my experience of last year is anything to go by, vigorously pruning just creates greater growth. This is how the front of the house looked in late June 2018 following a similar pruning earlier in February.

Green shoots appearing © Ricky Yates

Here is another sign of Spring with which I finish this post. Last Christmas, my daughter Christa, gave me a present of some bulbs for my garden. The instructions said that they should be planted, no later than the end of December. I only got back to Stará Oleška late on 28th December and the weather wasn’t at all conducive to doing any form of gardening until a few dry and milder days in mid-January. But I got them planted and, about ten days ago, the first green shoots started appearing. It does seem that we are moving from Winter to Spring.

8 comments to From Winter to Spring 2019

  • Go for it, Ricky ??

    • Ricky

      Go for what, Titus? If you mean dealing with the tree trunk sections then, Yes! I will have to do something fairly soon.

  • Your house looks so nice with the fresh green vines growing all over it in the summer! A bit of grapes can’t be a bad thing, per se 🙂 I also enjoyed seeing the views over your village and wow, how close to those mountains you are!

    • Ricky

      The vine does look pretty & I enjoy the grapes. But as you can see, its flourishes so much that it covers nearly all of the front windows, blocking out the light! With regard to the mountains, in a straight line, it is only about 10km to the Czech-German border which roughly follows the line of those mountains.

  • Robert E. Doolittle

    Ricky: I was looking forward to a post like this including winter shots. I was also wondering how your supply of firewood was holding up. Do you know what species of tree the firewood comes from? I mean hardwood/ softwood etc. I am in the process of splitting and stacking firewood for next winter. Seems strange considering that the air conditioning is running at present. I was surprised to obtain some American elm firewood. You may be familiar with what happened to the famous elms of New England. Virtually whipped out by Dutch Elm Disease. Some Elms grow in Florida, but die out at about 8 inches diameter. They are pretty good firewood but are very difficult to split when wet. The only advantage in them. is they are free. I use my fireplace only for supplemental heating. Sorry no snow here. We don’t get any really winter looking photos with all the trees barren.

    • Ricky

      Hello Bob & thank you for once more visiting & commenting here. I’m glad you enjoyed the snowy winter photos.

      I’m not sure exactly of the species of tree making up my recent delivery of firewood. But certainly some is silver birch which is easily identified by the colour of the bark.

      I don’t think it’s strange that you are currently splitting & stacking firewood at the time of year. It is always better to do everything in advance of winter. I hope that once I’ve sorted out those massive sections of tree trunks, I will have enough firewood stacked & stored for the whole of next winter. Then I won’t need another delivery until the Spring of 2020 at the earliest, when the weather will be much better for transporting them all to the woodshed.

  • Sean Mccann

    Hi Ricky,
    I hope you’ve had time to break down and clear that wall of wood in the meantime, some serious effort required to do so as you said yourself; free gym membership is often a side effect of rural living. 😉

    When you posted this three weeks ago the weather in Ireland was going into a sudden cold snap. After a fortnight of pleasant, sunny, almost ‘Summer’ weather we went into a week of freezing sleet and snow showers and nights of sharp frost which burned the early buds off trees and shrubs and sent us all for coats and sweaters we’d cast off early. Good luck with the gardening and the firewood, apologies for the long delay in commenting and delayed Easter greetings.

    • Ricky

      Hi Sean,
      The ‘wall of wood’ as you describe it, is finally gone. I completed the task on Easter Monday. I ended up needing to cut each section of tree trunk into two, using my chain saw. Only then could I transport each half-section, one at a time, by wheelbarrow, into the woodshed. I have managed to fit all of the wood into the shed – just 🙂 Yes, shifting & chopping logs, together with mowing all the grass, (my task of earlier today), does help keep you fit!

      The weather has certainly warmed up here though we are promised some rain & lower temperatures this weekend. The pruned vine has also started to shoot some green leaves. But I don’t think we’ll have any more frost.

      Thank you as always, for visiting & commenting. I reciprocate with Easter greetings to you & your family.