The view

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The scene out back on the morning of Dec. 11, a little after 9:00 a.m. A good cover of frost around the vineyard, with our weather station and solar panels visible. Our property still mostly in the shade, but the goat dairy beyond in full morning daylight.

A week later, the sunset was not too shabby, either.

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Even the Eucs have damage

The recent cold snap was more intense than expected. We dropped to 20 degrees (F) one morning for about an hour and a half, and over an eleven day period we accumulated about 95 hours below freezing and 14 hours of 25F or below.

Much to my surprise, even some mature Red Ironbark Eucalyptus has sustained damage. Not all the trees, but several. In fact, sometimes a damaged tree and a relatively unscathed one are side by side. Probably more a case of seedling variation than of micro-climates.

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I am sure these will recover fully. What about my young citrus and other fruit trees? The jury is still out. The cold frames (and brooding lights) might have spared some of them, but we will wait for spring to be sure.

Cold snap

At sundown today the temperature already was only 44F. Expecting a hard freeze the next two, maybe three, nights.

Here in the Sacramento Valley, I no longer have near-tropical fruit trees, but I have some tender trees that may be damaged. Such as the citrus trees underneath these cold frames (plastic sheeting supported by wood structure) or the (presumably less at-risk) potted plants under the cloth sheets.

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I hope the cold is not as bad as the Freeze of 2007, when I lost a lot of tender items, such as mangoes and sapotes and a couple of young citrus trees, in San Diego County.

That’s our now-defoliated vineyard beyond the fence.

Apologies for shooting the photo through the window. It’s too cold to go back outside!

Birds of prey

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Just after lunch today, I saw the unmistakeable shadow of a large bird arriving at one of the trees just outside the house. I went outside and noticed two birds in the tree: an owl and what I believe to be a golden eagle that we have been seeing around lately.

The owl (a barn owl, I think) is peeking over the branch that heads off towards the right of the picture. The eagle is in the upper left.

We have an owl nesting box on the finca that has been in use since April, and we hear screeching every night. But I have not seen one in daylight before.

I am no bird expert, but the other one does not look like the hawks that frequent the place, and is much bigger than the hawks, in any case. It is quite likely a golden eagle. A couple of days ago I saw it feasting on a squirrel, so it is most welcome around here (as are the owls and hawks and anyone else hungry-for-squirrels).

Given that camera I had immediately available, and the need to shoot from some distance, the picture is not the clearest. But what a thrill to see these two in the tree!

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Update: It might be a Ferruginous hawk (a type I did not previously know), rather than an eagle.