We are in the midst of a blizzard. Wind is blowing at 35 mph with gusts of 50 mph and overnight we got about a foot of snow (hard to tell exactly because it is drifted in mounds, not evenly distributed.) Snow is still falling (blasting, really) in a sideways manner--we are forecast to get 16 or more inches by this afternoon. I have always loved storms like this -especially when I can be inside, drinking tea, watching the weather, but now I have more to worry about --the animals being cold...or the power going out...their water freezing...and what about the poor bees?
We had a couple days' notice that this storm was coming, so plenty of time to prepare. We fired up the snowblower and got the wovel out of the garage rafters. I stocked up on groceries, holiday baking ingredients, and big bags of seed and lots of suet for the wild birds braving the cold. As the storm was picking up yesterday I discovered my camera was not working--so had to make an icy trip back to town. It turned out that the memory card was messed up -an easy replacement, allowing me to document our first big winter storm of the year.
On Monday I got a load of hay, straw and corn. Cadence and I constructed a better strawbale shelter within the barn for the geese and ducks. Ordinarily they seem to enjoy being out in the snow, but we decided to close them inside today. I doubt they could navigate the deep drifts very well (but it might be entertaining to watch them try).
The chickens are closed inside the coop today. I debated about whether to turn on an infrared heat lamp last night or not (there seem to be contradictory theories about whether it is necessary or not), but ultimately I decided to do it. It's still on this morning and the chickens seem to be basking under its warmth, so I am glad I turned it on. I hope they don't become too wimpy!
The coop is fairly tight, especially since we replaced the broken window sashes last fall, but it isn't insulated. On some nicer day I should install the leftover scraps of insulation from the granary between the studs of the coop, at least on the windiest west side.
The cows and two chickens who refused to go in the coop are hanging out in the loafing shed today. The south side is open to the weather, but I closed the double door on the north side to shut out the arctic wind. There is a deep layer of straw on the floor. Inside, out of the wind, with the bodyheat of the three cows it is considerably warmer than outside. I did have to break a crust of ice on their water this morning, despite having a stock tank heater, though.
As you can see in the photo, the wind has kindly blown snow clear of the door of the loafing shed. The chicken coop and norht side barn doors were also blown clear, so even though I had to traipse through thigh-deep drifts, I didn't have to shovel to open them when I fed the critters this morning. Sweet.
However, we will have to shovel out the door on the front of the barn. Our ill-conceived placement of the rabbit hutch must have caused that drift.
The trusty wovel is waiting and Rog is already firing up the snowblower, so I guess I have to go remove snow now. Seems to me like a losing battle to clear snow when it's still falling and blowing like crazy, but Rog's theory is that if you don't clear away 3-foot snowdrifts now, they will be 6-foot drifts later. Plus, he probably just wants to play in the snow.