Thursday, January 21, 2016

Battening Down the Hatches

     A snowstorm is on its way, although by the looks of the beautiful weather today, you'd never know it.  Nevertheless, a few minutes on Facebook is all it takes to see that weather indeed must be coming.  All of my city friends are posting pictures of empty shelves in grocery stores as folks rush around trying to ensure their safety and well-being before the storm.
     The rushing around looks different up here in the mountains.  Folks are rushing around, but the tasks are vastly different.  Many of us have cellars and freezers full of food, so that isn't such a concern. Our concern is for the livestock.  Deep snow means difficulty getting feed to animals, so we are taking some steps to make things easier.
     Justin spent the day putting a snow-blade on his skid loader.  If we get the predicted two feet of snow, not only will he need to open paths to the barns to help us get in to the hay, he will also need to open pathways for the sheep and cattle so they can reach food and water.  They will also need places to lie down.
     After that, Scott and Justin worked on replacing a fence that had been removed for some construction around a barn.  When the fence was back in place, they moved a flock of pregnant sheep down the road to the meadow next to that barn.  Pregnant sheep in deep snow are like deeply loaded boats in a high swell. They rise and fall but they don't make much forward progress.  Being next to the barn will give them shelter and easier access to food.
     Then Joe and I called another flock in from a high pasture across the road to the barn and meadow right in front of the house. We moved feeders in place so we could drop food in  from the main road.  One year, it snowed so much near this particular barn that the drifts covered the tops of the fences. Shoveling something that deep is nearly impossible, so the closer we can get the sheep to shelter and the main road, the easier it will be to keep them safe.
     We moved cars out to the end of our quarter mile long driveway, since it could take a day or two to get it plowed out.  Joe put the snowplow blade on our four wheeler and he'll try to keep a path open as the snow falls, but if we get the wind that's predicted it will soon blow shut and he'll have to go out again and again, just like this picture from last year.

We filled our woodbox and made another pile near the house.  One of my first tasks after the snow ends will be to shovel a path out to that pile.
     The last thing I did before coming in to write this blog was fill the bird feeders.  I don't like wading through knee deep snow to do that.
     After the snow falls, round two will start.  My chickens are a half a football field away from the house.  I usually end up hand digging a path out there so I can feed and water them.  The dogs will be allowed to sleep together so they can stay warm, but their house will have to be shoveled out as well.  We will have to shovel all of the gates to the various fields open and shovel a path to the root cellar.
     It's a lot to think about and worry about, but after almost thirty years of living here, I've learned that worry never changes anything and eventually we always find a way to get things done.  That way often includes the help of neighbors who will start calling to check on each other as soon as the last flake falls. We have helped neighbors remove heavy snow from barn roofs and on more than one occasion, I have awakened to the sound of a neighbor on his bulldozer plowing us out.
    A snow of this magnitude means that generosity of the same magnitude will abound, so I think I'll pour another cup of hot tea and curl up in front of a window to watch the show.  It's going to be beautiful.

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