Tag Archives: snow

And the Day After

The snow finally ended around 5:30 p.m. but the wind picked up and the dry snow is being blown into drifts deeper than knee high.  Our total was around 17-18″ (44+ cm), deep enough that a walk uphill to take pictures of the road and the house from the barn was very tiring.  One of the deepest areas is a shallow rounded cut between the garage and the chicken coop that is there to drain water from the driveway away from the house and on downhill.  I get a bootful every time I go over to make sure the chickens have food and water and to collect eggs, even with my Squall pants Velcroed over the outside of the barn boots which are taller than my snow boots.

Today is clear and bright with a very brisk wind blowing, but the temperature is above freezing.

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Several weeks ago, we watched a news item about a snow phenomenon that I had never seen before, or at least not notices.  It occurs when the wind blows across the surface of the snow, rolling it like you would a snowman, sometimes creating solid balls, sometimes a donut or pipe shape.  Much to my amazement when I went over to do morning chicken chores, much more difficult in deep snow, I spotted them in the yard.

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The dogs continue to romp and leap through the snow, rolling and playfully attacking each other until they are exhausted.  I haven’t figured out how to get them to “plow” me a path over to the coop yet.  After nearly an hour of moving snow, packing snow down and digging out one of the hay bales, I got enough hay on the snow to coax 6 of the fuzzy butts out to eat and drink.  While busy adding more hay in the run to give them a bit more space to be outdoors, I heard a racket inside the coop and found two hens trying to occupy one of the six nesting boxes together to lay their morning egg.   That was rather amusing but after checking under the one who had claimed it first there was only 1 cold egg, so I guess I interrupted them.  The hay is re-covered as we may get up to 3 more inches tonight.  That chore will have to be repeated again tomorrow.  I don’t want to keep food and water in the coop.  All of the cold weather and snow we have had has taken a toll on the coop’s cleanliness and even the deep litter method struggling to keep up.

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. . . The Storm

Two days ago, I blogged about the preparation that we go through each time a storm is expected.  The preparations were completed, tub and jugs filled, dry beans cooked for chili or goulash, bread made, supplies for the dogs and chickens replenished, wood brought in to the garage.  Yesterday we waited, wondering if this storm too would fizzle though the news from southeast of us was showing freezing rain and sleet, we are far enough west in Virginia that we could have only gotten a couple of inches, not the double digit snow that was predicted.

Around 2 pm yesterday, as I was kneading the bread and looking out the kitchen window that faces south, I watched as the snow came over the ridge behind us, moving toward us and it has been snowing ever since.  We had gone out about noon and parked the SUV part of the way up the driveway in a parking pad away from the house.  After I thought the mail had come, I drove my CRV up to the barn and parked it on a gravel pad in front of the barn and walked the rest of the way up to the mailbox.  The contractor mailman drives a 2 wheel drive sedan, so he either had not come or decided our steep snow covered gravel road was not happening yesterday afternoon.

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That was only an hour or so into the storm.

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By the time I went out to secure the chicken coop for the night, we had about 5 inches.  By bedtime after watching the Olympics it was up to 7 inches.

This morning before letting the pups out to romp, I went out with a 12 inch ruler that sank into the snow.

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Same shot as Tuesday with the addition of the car and the snow.

After the snow pups had their chance, with the snow up to Shadow’s chest

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they came in snow coated and worn out and I ventured over to deal with the chickens.  I knew they would not come out of their coop when I opened the pop door, so today until the snow stops, they have food and water in the coop.  As their keeper/feeder/protector/egg collector, they seem to think this is all my fault.   The snow is mid calf on me, over my boots and I returned to the house with a cuff of packed snow inside.

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We awoke to it 10ºf warmer than last night, but it is still snowing and we are expecting several more inches.

Today we will play.  Tomorrow our 36th Anniversary was to be celebrated in town at a nice restaurant, but we may have to cancel our reservation and postpone it unless the plows get up our mountain.  So far we still have power, so the conveniences of life are still in place.

We wanted a good snow this year and we have gotten it.  Once this is gone, I’m ready for spring.

The Calm Before . . .

Again we are being threatened with a winter storm.  How many times has that happened this winter and it fizzled?  But this time they seem to be serious and instead of adjusting the storm away from us at the last minute, they are giving us more and more intensity.  It is to be a snow event in this part of the state.  I love snow and snow sports, so I’m fine with it, however, it always requires more effort on our part as we do live rurally in the mountains and heavy snowfall often means loss of power.  Loss of power means loss of heat, water and all other conveniences of life, so today, the cold, calm day of azure skies will be filled with the preparations for such occurrence.

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The downstairs bathtub must be filled with water for necessary flushing and so the dogs will have water.  All of the emergency and camping jugs also filled as to get water when we have no power, we must trek downhill a few hundred yards to the gravity fed yard hydrant from our cistern that is there to water horses and cattle next year after our fencing is done.  Trekking down is not difficult, but toting one or more 5 gallon jugs of water back uphill is tough.  With enough snow, they can be loaded onto one of the toboggan sleds that we bought for our grands and us to play on in the snow, and dragged back uphill.

A supply of firewood will be brought over and stored in the garage to keep the woodstove and fireplace stoked for heat.  The wood is stacked against the end of the huge compost bins by the garden, but who wants to carry wood over in the wet snow when we can just grab it in the garage.

The hay used in the chicken pen and coop needs to be covered as they won’t come outside their coop if snow is on the ground and I don’t want to have to dig the large round bale out and deal with wet hay to get a layer down on the ground for them.

A pot of stew beef that can be finished on the wood stove or the propane camp stove will be started, or a pot of chili made that we can heat on the wood stove or camp stove will be prepped.

The freezer will be rearranged to make sure that there are few air spaces and jugs of ice that I keep in the basement refrigerator freezer when not needed, will be packed on top to keep the remainder of last summer’s bounty frozen.

Some day we might finally get a decent generator, maybe a whole house generator so these preparations will become unnecessary.  Until then, time is wasting, I’d better get to work.

Success

Yesterday it snowed off and on all day.  The forecast had been for light snow showers to begin in the late afternoon and end shortly after dark.  It started just as I was coming in from the chicken chores, having finally lured them out of their coop with warm mash and fresh straw over the snow.  This allowed for some much needed coop “cleaning.”  It snowed hard for a couple of hours, depositing a new inch or so on the snow remaining from a few days before and then we had snow showers through out the day.  Nothing was accumulating on the roads so we didn’t worry about leaving the mountain.  Just at sunset, the sun peeked out of the broken clouds while it was showering and I stood on the back deck in the 28°f temperature to see if we would have a snowbow.

As it appeared to be clearing, we decided to travel about 20 miles to the Mall to see American Hustle, feeling safe that the roads would be okay on the way home.  The movie was pretty good, hubby liked it a lot and when it was over we exited the multiplex theater to find a mini blizzard going on.  The roads were covered with about 2-3 inches of new snow and it was coming down so fast it was hard to see the road.  This is the mountains and most folks up here have either all wheel drive or 4 wheel drive if they are permanent residents, but it is also the area of the state’s largest university and it seems that most of the students have cars and many of them are not appropriate for snow driving in the mountains.  Even town is not level with rises and dips and as we drove through on our way back to the main highway out to our home, we watched as people, mostly college students slid around corners, fishtailed trying to climb the rises and slid as they foolishly applied brakes going down hill then applied them more firmly to thwart their slide, which caused more sliding.

Once on the main road for the last 12 miles, the road goes up two mountains and through two passes and this is where it got really dicey.  There were cars that couldn’t make it up and had slid into the guardrail, some sideways, some spun around in the wrong direction, some perpendicular to the road.  There were people with 4 wheel or all wheel drive that thought they were invulnerable and were passing each other and driving by the spinouts too quickly and following each other too closely.  It was a terrifying ride, even as the passenger in hubby’s Xterra with the 4 wheel drive on.  When we got to the last 2 miles, going up the mountain on which we live, there were only 2 sets of tracks.  We made it home safely, but very tense.

To unwind, I chose to work on the lace cowl that I posted about a few days ago.  I never thought that I would say that knitting lace would help me unwind, but I had added stitch markers after each lace repeat after “tinking” two half rows and it was going along smoothly.  I finished all but the last three rows, staying up way past my bedtime.

Today is supposed to be warmer, the sun is out and the wind is calming.  After chicken chores which involved more new straw to coax them out to the snow and preparing breakfast for me, feeding the dogs and starting some laundry, I have knit the last 3 rows and bound off.  I am stoked, this is the first time ever that I have successfully finished an entire lace project of any complexity and it is beautiful. It still needs to be blocked but I can’t wait to show it off.
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From this

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To this

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and finally to this. Now I feel confident and am thinking about trying to create a hat to go with it using the same lace pattern.

What Do You Do When It Is Subfreezing Temperatures?

We are warm and cozy indoors, the thermostat is set at 68f, but that is not what it is like outdoors.  This is what it is:

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It is still gusty wind, so the wind chill makes it too uncomfortable to go play in the snow.  Let me qualify that and state that I have played in the snow, on skis at that temperature, wearing lots of windproof and waterproof layers, but I don’t want to put on ski clothes to take a walk, so until the sun warms things up to the upper teens and the wind dies down, I’ll stay inside and …

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Start http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/zuzus-petals, a cowl out of Mountain Colors Bearfoot yarn in Lupine color for me.

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Make chili, enough for lunch and 2 quarts for the freezer.  Actually, I spent yesterday while it was snowing making this, starting with dry beans, my small crockpot, lots of onions, jalapenos, garlic, and tomatoes from last summer’s garden and a pound of grass finished ground beef from the farmer’s market.

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Collect and admire the hen gems, admiring the variation of color and size that the hens produce.  I need to enjoy this now, because come spring, I will be replacing many of the hens with more Buff Orpingtons and the variation will cease, but the flock will be self sustaining.  The collecting process involves layering scarf, hat, gloves, barn jacket and barn boots several times a day as eggs freeze and crack at these temperatures more quickly than you would believe.

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The pretty tan birds are the Buffs and again they are in their coop, refusing to step out into the snow and the cold.  The Oliver Egger, my Houdini finally peeked out and I learned how she has been escaping, chased her back in and sealed up her escape hole.  If she gets caught outside the fence with no way back in, she will likely end up with frostbite or dead.

The dogs and I enjoyed some of their gifts for breakfast.

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And read of course.  The current book is The Bloodletter’s Daughter (A Novel of Old Bohemia) by Linda Lafferty.  An interesting historical fiction, set toward the end of the Ottoman Empire, utilizing authentic locations and some characters but playing more on their insanity that history truly reveals.

So how do you spend shut in days?

 

 

 

Reward

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This is the scene this morning. The ridge a mile away is hidden by the snowfall. The snow is not heavy, just steady and expected until sundown, so we may see our first seasonal snowfall. It is later than usual, but we are approaching the 8 weeks when we are most likely to get snow cover.  We are in the Allegheny mountains in southwest Virginia at an elevation of only about 2300 ft (700+ m) on the south flank of the ridge. The ridge north of us rises to about 4400 ft (1341 m) so that it shelters us from most heavy storms. The snow is welcome for the garden moisture it provides, the seasonal beauty and to indulge my inner child who will bundle up and walk or play in it after morning chores are done.

The dogs hit the deck this morning and delightedly took off, leaping; well the German Shepherd leaps, the English Mastiff lopes, and chasing each other around and rooting around like hogs with their noses in the snow. Often when it snows, one of them will come up with a mole or vole with which they play, tossing it around until they tire of the game.

The chickens were less delighted. I filled their water pan with tepid water and hung their feeder beneath the coop to keep it dry and opened the pop door for morning greetings. The first one to poke her head out stopped short as soon as her foot hit the snowy ramp, gave me an accusatory glare and ducked back inside.  All of them were milling around in the coop making agitated sounds, but no one came out. It isn’t very cold yet, only 32°f (0°c), the cold is expected again tonight dropping to low single digits and remaining well below freezing for the next week or so. I may have to make a concession and at least put their food inside the coop. We have snow predicted again in a few days.

The woods are looking like a wonderland and with the snow cover, you can see well into the woods and see the foraging deer and turkeys. I love the mountains and the snow. Life is good on our mountain farm.

Anticipation

The day is mild, almost springlike. The thermometer has risen to 53f (11.66C) though we still have gusty wind.  The forecast is for our first real snow, not a huge one, but 3 to 6 inches, I’ll settle for that.  The transportation departments are out in force, spraying their salt mixture on all of the roadways in anticipation.  We live on a 2/10 mile gravel driveway, downhill from a 2/10 mile state maintained gravel road, downhill from a real paved road.  With only 6 inches, no drifting and the 4 wheel drive feature of the vehicle engaged, we can get out if necessary.  The only time we couldn’t get out, we had 20 inches two weeks after we had 22 inches that had not all melted and the second snow drifted.  We were stuck for 3 days until our contractor/farmer neighbor came down our driveway on his huge tractor with a blade and plowed us out, then waited to make sure that hubby’s vehicle could get to the top of the driveway.  For about 2 weeks, that is where the car stayed and all supplies that we had to bring in here hauled down to the house on plastic toboggans, sometimes with us racing each other down the driveway in two of the them.  That was 4 years ago, the year of the last Winter Olympics and we posted many photos of our Cave Hill Olympics, our antics in the snow.  We may both be senior citizens, but we still like to play in the snow.

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As the transportation folks are preparing, so are we.  Knowing that snow and wind often mean power outages, some for only a few hours, some for days on end and when we don’t have power, we also don’t have water, I have preemptively filled the downstairs tub, the water jugs and will shortly go bring in a couple days worth of wood into the garage for the wood stove and fireplace.  We went to town and resupplied some of the staples that were low from the natural food store.  I added another 8 or 9 inches of dry straw to the chicken coop and put a fresh layer under the coop and where I enter their pen.

With this potential snow, we are facing single digit temperatures at night for the second time this winter.  We will have to leave the hot and cold water faucet in the utility room dripping, pull out the space heater and hope the pipes don’t freeze in there again.  I also need to figure out how to keep the washing machine drain from freezing, though I can always drain it into the utility sink if the water is running.

With any luck, we will have a layer of white to enjoy for a day or two.  The dogs will love to romp in it, the chickens will be less thrilled, but I am still kid enough at heart to be anticipating some snow and a long walk in the cold white world.