15 February 2007

Awash in Snow!

It's been a dizzying week. The whole family went down hard with the flu last Wednesday (the 7th). For several days, we did little else but eat chicken soup, sleep, and feed the wood stove. Then, early Tuesday morning, that nasty blizzard came through. All day Tuesday, we had sheets of horizontal snow. Hard to tell if the sun came out at all that day; it was like one big gray blur. It was all I could do to pick my way through the waist-high snowdrifts to go back and forth from the house to my office.

The sheep needed special attention. Their pasture shelters are usually fine and comfortable for them, even in heavy snow --- but we now had so much snow, the drifts were cutting the sheep off from those shelters. When I brought them hay in the afternoon, they tried to bound through the drifts to meet me, and most of them sank to their waists (many of the drifts were taller than the sheep.)
With snow still coming down in horizontal sheets, my wife and I decided we had to do something if we didn't want to lose the flock. We don't have a lot of space in the barn for animals, so we had to get creative. Together, we moved the two dairy goats to a small stall in the far corner of the barn. With Queen Anne's Lace The Goat about to kid, we were going to need to move her to this area within the next week anyhow.

We spread fresh straw onto the goats' usual area, opened up the gates leading from the pasture to that area, and then set about trying to move the sheep into the barn.

Unfortunately, they saw us coming out to the pasture through the snowstorm and panicked. Some ran into snowdrifts. Others ran into another part of the pasture. After considerable effort, all with horizontal snow still swirling around us, my wife and I managed to get the sheep all moving in the right direction. Through the gates they went, and into the goat area of the barn. A few minutes later, they were feasting on hay and getting their fill of fresh water. My wife and I went inside to the wood stove to thaw ourselves out.

Wednesday morning, the sun finally came out. The pasture is still full of snowdrifts, so we've left the sheep in the barn for now. It's much easier to keep their water liquid in there, and they don't seem to mind being out of the snow.

Our neighbor came over Wednesday morning with his tractor, which has a snowplow attachment. He plowed all the way to the barn, opening up a path for me to get my 4x4 truck out. I love having neighbors like these. We didn't even have to ask him for help; he was just out plowing his own driveway, and realized we could use some help. Here's a picture of how much snow he moved to open up the barn:
This is a good shot of the snow drifts by an old garage building on our property. This is NOT a pile of plowed snow. It is a drift:
The ducks have a 3-foot high shelter in the vineyard. Over the course of Tuesday, it almost completely filled with snow; I fully expected to lose all of them. Remarkably, however, there was a pocket of open space at the back of the shelter. All of them rode the storm out back there, and are now happily waddling around on top of the snow in the vineyard. Look at the drifts, though:
We don't seem to have lost any animals...except Tabasco. Monday night, when I came in from work, she ran off to romp. That's not unusual, especially after having laid around on my office couch all day. But when she didn't return after dinner, we got worried. We knew the storm was coming in, and she'd be in big trouble if she pulled another of her mysterious disappearences. We whistled and called, and kept looking out the window for her until bedtime. But she never returned. The only way she could've possibly survived is if she'd taken shelter at another farm. But here it is Thursday, and we haven't seen or heard anything. Even Tuesday evening, we were talking about her in the past tense. Very sad, particularly thinking about the poor dog freezing to death alone in the blizzard.
But all the rest of us are okay. Just trying to finish digging out.

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