Farm Life Goes On Even When It’s Snowing

By Posted in - Homesteading on January 29th, 2016 0 Comments

When the snow started falling last Friday we felt, for the first time since we moved to the farm, that we were ready for a blizzard.

We were caught flatfooted in the blizzard of 2009. That was our first winter on the farm, I don’t think we even had a name for the place yet, and we had just bought our first flock of laying hens the day before the storm. The power went out and we were in the dark for days and days. There was no woodstove in the house, no means of keeping warm, and the only way to water our new chickens was by hauling buckets of water from the bathtub (which we filled up before the lights went off). After that experience we vowed to never be in that position again.

Our barn, which was only a dream back in 2009, was an enormous asset during Snowzilla. We divided the center aisle in half and put our dairy cows on on side and left the other side open for milking. This kept Coco and Cinnamon warm and dry on a nice bed of straw when the snow started falling. We put their calves, Zeke and Nutmeg, in our barn stall where they could stare at their mothers while they were being milked. We put up a lot of hay this summer as well as a fair amount of straw in our barn loft, all in anticipation of an event like this. We moved a nice stack of hay into the barn and, thanks to trough heaters, our large animals had food and water while the world froze outside.

We used calf hutches, moveable plastic structures, to give the sheep some shelter from the storm. Sheep don’t even feel the cold thanks to their wool, but it’s always nice to have a dry place to sleep. Our hens, who normally range all over the property, stayed safe and dry in their 288 sq. ft. hen house as the snow piled up, and I had to dig a path to their house in order to give them food and water. Honestly, wading through knee-deep snow was the hardest part of this storm. The power stayed on this time, thankfully, and we had a cord of firewood on the front porch to keep things nice and toasty in the house with the wood stove we installed two years ago.

Plowing the driveway presented another problem. I hand shoveled the drive back in 2009, and it took days and days. We don’t own a tractor, but our neighbor, Bob, came over and plowed us out on Sunday after the storm had passed. It was grueling work, and even a week later our back road still hasn’t been cleared, but we can drive in and out and I call that a win.

Things were miserable during the blizzard of 2009, but some preparedness really made this storm bearable. We hope you survived Snowzilla and are staying warm and dry wherever you live.

-Kevin