I love that we get names for winter storms now. Instead of having to talk about the “Big Snow of 96” we can say “Yeah, in 2016 Snowstorm Jonas hit Shepherdstown and we got the biggest snowfall on the East Coast! 40.5 inches of snow in one storm! We rock!” Actually we rock around on the floor after shoveling all that snow, in an attempt to ease our aching backs. And then we hang upside down on an inversion table trying to get straightened back up.
The snow is beautiful, but worrisome too. My barn has an awful lot of weight sitting on it and since I built it myself I know I did not plan on dealing with 40 inches of snow back then. I should have used bigger supports, more bracing, etc. I had to lock Mara, my horse, up in the barn for two days during the storm because she was going to let herself get all snowy and cold outside. Then I didn’t sleep very well because I was afraid of the roof collapsing on her. So far it hasn’t but now the weather folks say it might rain tomorrow and that would make the snow REALLY heavy. Considering that it was 8 degrees F this morning it is hard to imagine rain happening, but I think I will still have to see if I can knock some of that snow off, just in case. I put a nice slippery metal roof on 3/4 of the barn roof last year so it should slide. Maybe if I started a fire underneath? Just kidding, not going there.
OK, just got back inside from shoveling off the part of the barn roof over the horse stalls. It did not slip off at all. I had to push and pull it with a rake and only removed about half but I feel better now.
My little mini greenhouse has not collapsed, which I am happy about, even though there is nothing in there right now. There have been reports of some big hoop houses nearby not making it.
I splurged and bought electric water buckets this year and I am really appreciating them and so are the horse, the chickens and the wild birds. I had to pull the pump from the water garden right before the storm because it got jammed with frogs (it was terrible, their legs were stuck in it) and I did not get it back in before it froze, so there is no open water for the deer and birds and other wild critters. I will put a pump sock around it before I re install it when the pond thaws. I thought that the skimmer box I installed last year was going to keep the frogs out but they found a way around the strainer basket.
I have been using my snowshoes (after adding some additional leather laces to them), that Jeff bought me a couple years ago from REI, to tramp down pathways, one to the road, one to the neighbors barn with the two donkeys , Emma and Elmo. My neighbor is not well enough to make it out there herself and nobody can drive to her house yet. The “Long Ears” were pretty sure I was a monster when I came clomping up to them yesterday and they wern’t much better today. They were snorting and carrying on. They now have a path to their heated water trough, and I gave them hay, so they are good. The guy with the plow is supposed to make it out maybe today or tomorrow and do our shared 600 foot driveway.
The paved road out front has one lane opened up by some very nice neighbors with tractors and plows. No highway department yet. They are working on the main roads first. I walked up the road, which is a tunnel of pristine white snow, to help dig out my husbands parents and on the way back some people in a 2 wheel drive car were out there and got stuck, of course. A helpful guy in a pickup , who could have been plowing instead, had to help them get out and I heard him say, “Now please go back where you started and park it. It is only one lane and we need the road clear for emergencies.” Update: the roads department got to it Monday afternoon and now it is almost two lanes wide. I am going to have to dig the mailbox out soon.
I have tons of good food put away in the freezer and we have not lost power at all, which is amazing. We rarely do lose it here, although the next house down the road is on a different substation and they lose it all the time. Their lines go through some large trees. We have been eating venison stew, pumpkin pie and our fresh eggs. The chickens have slowed down during this storm but there are plenty for us. I have ordered 50 new chicks to arrive in the spring to replace our old laying hens, and another 25 chicks for eating.
I hear people complaining about being cooped up in the winter, but I love it. I love the excuse to stay inside and do all the things I won’t do when it is too nice outside. When I feel antsy, I go do something energetic outside, and then appreciate coming back in when I get cold. There is time to sit by the fire now and I can read, sew, cook, write. The animals give me a reason to get up and be outside a couple times a day and I am not working at the moment, so I don’t have to go anywhere. It is all good.
-Wendy lee, writing at edgewisewoods and gardens