Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Walkabout 2-22

first snowstorm of the week
Now that the groundhog saw his shadow and made his prediction, we’re finally on the countdown to warmer weather and brighter days…so you’d think we’d be making some real progress toward Spring.  But…no…now, we find that our lives are ruled by SNOW and cold weather. I know we shouldn’t complain. The city of Boston has measured over 100 inches for the season, and that total was prior to this weekend’s storm. I cannot imagine what that must be like. Honestly, I don’t even want to think about it!

However, snow and winter weather were at the heart of all activity here on the hill this week.
Monday we were watching a storm that was supposed to come in by the late afternoon.  Since we were getting seriously low on feed for the sheep and chickens, we made a town run despite the fact that the Presidents ’ Day holiday would keep us from accomplishing a number of our usual errands.  And, the lack of pet food meant that I had to brave Walmart just prior to a snowstorm. (that experience wasn’t quite as bad as I feared) The Boss was hoping that if we hurried we just might be able to get a load of hay before the snow.

look closely
you can just see a dim outline of the mountains
As we hurried home, we could watch the chances of that diminish before our eyes as the storm rolled over the mountains.  By the time we got the feed unloaded, the snowflakes were flying as the snow settled in for the duration.

That storm didn’t live up to all the hype and expectation and we ended up with a little over 5 inches. Yes, we are those perverse folks who rejoice in small snow totals.

But, behind it came the most frigid air of the season, some of the coldest air on record.  The snow wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon!

same general area after the snow
Once the lane was cleared, we headed out to the hay guy’s.  It was more than a little unnerving to realize that when we took the last bale off that trailer---we got the last bale.  The last square bale, that is.  There is definitely hay to be had, it will just be in a different form next time…and that’s going to take more than a little adjustment.  But, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.  For now, the sheep have hay and we’ll just hope the weather changes soon.

Because…this has been a tough winter.

4 BELOW zero
The extremely cold temperatures mean that the animals eat far more, the crops in the hoophouse don’t do much growing, and seeds don’t germinate well.  We won’t even talk about what all that does to the farmers’ psyche…

Some of the coldest air…ever…poured in from Siberia.  I am not exaggerating here.  Siberia.  We hit a low of -4* (the lowest we have personally ever seen here in VA). But, we really can’t complain. (or at least, we shouldn’t) 

On the heels of the Arctic blast, another snowstorm headed our direction.  The first report I saw of this one had us in the bulls-eye. And I mean, the BULLS-EYE. (okay, there was going to be more than one) Well over a foot of snow. Surely the map was over-blown…
there we are...under the little pointer

But, the threat was real and while the forecast lessened, the timing was quite concerning. Arrival was predicted to be sometime Friday night or into Saturday morning.  We began to give serious thought to our downtown delivery run.

We have to pay extra attention to the weather in the wintertime.  Our “winter sales” program works wonderfully well, but it demands that we always think in advance, too.  When we send out our email on Wednesday, we know we won’t make the delivery until Saturday, so careful consideration is given to the long-term forecast.  …and this time, we decided to err on the side of caution and take the week off.  This isn’t a decision we come to lightly.  Our Saturday delivery is the one chance we have for income during the week.  To give up the only opportunity to make several hundred dollars can seem foolhardy.  However, we are also concerned about our customer-friends’ safety and well-being!

Mars, Venus and the moon
pretty cool
So, while it was quite cool to see Mars and Venus in close configuration with the moon on Friday evening, I figured it was quite possible that we had made a very big mistake.  The crisp, clear night with its twinkling stars showed absolutely no signs of any type of impending wintry weather.  Not at all.

When I got up to feed the lambs on Saturday morning, there wasn’t a snowflake to be seen.  It was far too late to change any plans. And, there was no use “crying over spilled milk”…

it snowed like this ALL day long!
But, by the time we headed out for chores just before seven, the flakes were falling with gathering intensity.  In the relatively short period of time we were outside, it became obvious that we had been wise to skip our delivery run.

The flakes fell faster and faster.  The snow started to pile up.

By the time we would have been leaving for town, there were several inches on the ground.  We definitely made the right decision!

heading out to gather eggs
With the temperatures in the teens, egg gathering is an ongoing chore.  As in, someone goes out every hour to collect the eggs. (this has been going on all week at least--and it's getting really old) Every time we went out, the back porch was covered with fresh snow. The path to the barn disappeared…

The snow continued.

The wind picked up and the snow began to drift. On my trip to feed the “piranhas” at the barn, there was snow over my knees.  There were several inches INSIDE the back of the barn where the opened door allowed the sheep access to the stocktank. The chicken feeders disappeared under the snow.  I began to worry about the ram and took him fresh hay.  Despite the ongoing storm, the Boss assured me that he was fine at afternoon chores.

Waylon in the snow

henhouse in the snow

snow IN the barn

It was still snowing at nightfall, and despite the earlier prediction that everything would turn to rain during the day, we had fifteen inches of SNOW before we ever saw a raindrop! Yes, I did say FIFTEEN inches.  It would seem the original prediction was not overblown. Looking at the reported snowfall, we are indeed living in the “bulls-eye”. (oh joy)

Then came the predictions of change-over to ice…and then rain.  Dire warnings about snow on rooftops were somewhat un-nerving since it was dark and getting late. Any snow removal would have to wait until daylight. That concern, along with worry about the animals and the unspoken but very real possibility of a power failure made for a night of fitful sleep and little rest.

So, here we are…

Time for the Sunday walkabout…and I’m not real sure I can get out the backdoor.

It’s going to be a day of snow removal…and not rest, I’m sure. 

We did indeed get some further precipitation…a wintry mix, as best I can tell.  If there is an icy crust on top of the snow, the snow blower will not work properly and the Boss will have to use the tractor. Assuming we can break through the drifts in front of the barn and get to the tractor! (which obviously we did)  I'm going to have to write about a snow day on the hill.  Let me assure you, it's not all cookies and cocoa.

We must do some sort of clean-up today because the temperatures are supposed to plummet again and all this snow is going to turn into a gigantic iceberg that will become completely immovable. 
While I agree with all the snowlovers that wintry precipitation is beautiful…it is the aftermath that causes all sorts of difficulties for us here on the hill.  And, we are not alone.  Winter is incredibly difficult for all farmers!

So, I’m off to make bottles for the lambs in the shop.  Yes, they are still in the shop…they will be there until this latest cold snap breaks…and it looks like they will be joined by chicks this week. (assuming the chicks can even get here) Because…well, winter weather.  There are pullets in the brooder that need to move to the henhouse and the brooder needs to be cleaned before the broiler chicks can go in there, but first there are hens that need to go somewhere…
One of the bottle babies with milk bubbles all over him
looking for another bottle

But, none of that can happen because we have nearly 2 feet of snow on the ground. (the snow from early in the week hasn’t even begun to melt!)

Seriously, Spring cannot get here fast enough!

I do hope you’re warm and well and enjoying a Happy Sunday!

Thanks for stopping by!  Please come back again.  (and bring your snow shovel!)

Here’s hoping that next week I’m not still talking about the “s” word.  But, wait…what’s that in the forecast…..?

(yes, I am serious)

Sunday morning - after the snow

I wrote this post BEFORE we did chores (adding the pics after)
I am happy to report that all the animals AND the structures came through fine
now, to see if we can survive the big dig-out!

P.S.  This is odd and random, but the neighborhood suffered a loss this week.  And, while I didn’t know the gentleman personally, I will miss waving to him as I head out of Mbrk.  He came to personify one of the things I love about this place and here’s a piece I wrote  about that some time ago.  RIP, Mr. Switzer.


  1. I know you are over the snow and hopefully it will end soon. I can't imagine. At least everyone is ok and you are plugging through. :) As my mom always says "this too shall pass...". :)

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Bobbi!
      We did indeed survive "the big dig" (now, if I am able to move tomorrow might be another story)
      Your mom is right! "this too SHALL pass" The snow has melted a whole lot today. (YAY) and I'm sure we'll be on to something else tomorrow.
      But, I will be SO glad to see Spring!

  2. I was speaking to a friend in Boston so know how bad it is there - she sounded quite philosophical about it all though. We have a faint covering today here and it is bitterly cold. Who'd be a farmer in this weather eh?

    1. I'm pretty sure nobody would sign up to be a farmer if they realized what the weather could do! Your friend in Boston is right to be philosophical...just make the best of it...what else is there to do?

  3. HI barbara!
    I Must say, that last pic of yours IS beautiful, but I said to Ray as we were getting 12" last Saturday, that snow has lost its charm at this point in my life. Especially since Ray got into a fender bender because of it on Saayurdaay morning.
    So, I left that big typo in to show you my wonderful spelling skills post concussion three weeks ago after smashing my forehead onto the edge of a concrete step as I wasled my friend's' do.g I also stutter when I get tired or whenever the hell I feel like it. Have memory probe, but mixing up words is the real fun. I called Josephine a postage stamp the other day, (!) asked Ray id he wanted a cup of cheese and some computer on his sandwich, and told him I washed the grapes in green water. And, guess what!?! Thay want ME for jury duty NOW! OH wow! My neurologist nixed that one.
    I know you have experience with your daughter having a much more serious injury, and I, myself, worked as a nurse with people with TBI's, but, boy! It is a whole new world having one yourself. Of course, my brain is already full of crud from the MS, so I musta rattled some of it loose!
    Anyway, have missed you and our chats. Just starting to do some typing and reading in little snippets again.
    xo, m & jb (who says she doesn't even KNOw what a "pOSIGE SAMP" is so she cannot "possSBLEE" be one!!!!!!!)

    1. The snow has definitely lost its charm!
      I have missed your comments. I do hope you're feeling better! I sent you an email, maybe you can get "Josephine-the postage stamp" to read it to you.
      Thinking of you! ...and Ray. I hope he's okay after his accident.