Down Came The Snow

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Sorry for the lack of posts recently, but we’ve been pretty busy the past few days dealing with winter weather. You may have heard about it. Actually, when all was done and dusted, we had about 32 inches of snow in a little over 24 hrs, which is quite a bit. Now the media were going beserk as usual and predicting the end of the world, but everyone has dug themselves out pretty well. I was off work Friday for another reason, but ended up using the time to prep the storm and work was closed on Monday and Tuesday to allow for clear up.

The storm began friday afternoon and by 4 pm, we were hunkered down. There was no where to be, but home and stay put. It snowed all night and all through Saturday

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Storm in progress on Saturday. Birds at feeders, which we had to replenish regularly, and my car on the right disappearing below a snow bank.

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View over the back garden Friday evening. Grover under cover and becoming a snow bank

Saturday continued in the same manner

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Ion watching the birds at the feeder

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Whilst Stewart gets pole position in front of the fire.

Fortunately we didn’t lose power this storm, so were able to get on with various things.  Diane decided to clean the house and proceeded to whirlwind through it, dispatching me upstairs to get out of her way (“No, I don’t want any help”!). So off I went and built a boiler for a locomotive commission I’m working on. Actually, I hadn’t planned to get to it until next week, so this was a bonus. Maintaining electrical supplies was also a bonus, as although we have a generator hookup, we don’t have a generator….yet! The biggest problem for us when we lose power (and it happens frequently at the best of times) is that the well stops working, which means we don’t have running water. This can be a bit awkward, particularly in summer….. At least with the fire, we have heat and can use it for cooking (we frequently do anyhow) and we also have oil lamps for illumination.

Anyhow, Sunday morning came and it was time to start digging.out. Fortunately the snow had been the light powdery stuff, not the wet slushy kind, but it had been blown in to drifts which meant that it was packed fairly solid. We have a long 50 foot drive and a large area at the back of the house to be cleared. I had prepositioned my car (the Scion) at the top of the hill, but Diane’s was entombed in the garage and the Land Rovers were gigantic snow drifts. In the past we had dug this all out by hand and let me tell you, that is a LOT of digging. I’d always resisted going out and buying a snow blower, as they are expensive and don’t get a great deal of use. However, two summers ago I found a second hand one that was about 25 years old for dirt cheap, so I bought it. What a godsend! Wish I’d done it earlier. My back thanks me. Diane thanks me! I must listen to my wife in the future. Anyhow, I call this thing “The Beast” as it is old school engineering with a Tecumseh engine and is a bit of a beast to control. I’m not sure if you drive it or it drives you. However, it really does the job and by noon on Sunday, we had cleared the drive out to the road. It was by no means easy, but by taking turns to drive and one person knocking down the snow to more manageable chunks, the thrower could clear a passage way.

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The beast after completion of operations on Monday

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Libby under cover and covered in snow

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Diane snow throwing – this is actually Monday morning

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Once we got out to the road, the world looked like this.

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The main road through the village. Road is open but not full width.

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One of our Neighbors houses

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Our house (the blue one), as well as our neighbors, showing the drive and the depth of snow)

Diane Snowshoe

We were taking care of our neighbors cat whilst she was away (sensible person) and for the first day, we had to snowshoe over to her house (even though it is just next door – the snow was just too deep). Here Diane returns from a feeding expedition.

Once we had gotten out to the road, we got a distress call from the barn. Beth had been going for nearly 2 days solid on her own taking care of the horses and was trying to keep things together. She was running on empty. So we threw The Beast into the scion and headed over there. The roads weren’t great, but I’m not bothered about driving on snow. It’s amazing how well my little Scion copes in bad weather.

We couldn’t get up the drive in the Scion as it hadn’t been plowed, but a friend with a humongous pickup truck met us and got us up there with the snow blower. Once there, it was a case of digging out paths from the barn to all the gates, so we could get the horses out of their stalls. They had been cooped up for 24 hours inside and normally they are outside 24/7, so they were eager to get out to the pastures. Plus a horse in a stall for 24hrs generates a LOT of poop! Using the snowblower, Diane and I dug out the gates so we could open them and carved paths from them to the main barn doors. Then the horses went out, which was the funniest thing I’d seen for ages and made it all worth while. They were kicking and jumping and rolling and galloping around in it. Great fun to watch.

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Isabel galloping around like a lunatic

A couple of other volunteers also managed to get in and help out with the horses, whilst Diane and I took hay bales out using snow shoes to the horses in the furthest fields whom no one had been able to reach. Under these conditions, snow shoes are not sporting equipment, they are an essential mode of travel. The horses didn’t seem very concerned about the conditions, but were happy to see fresh hay coming! Apparently, according to Beth, even at the height of the storm, they preferred to be at the hay bales rather than undercover in their run-in sheds. Daft creatures!

Afterwards we went home and straight to bed – we were knackered!

Monday was more of the same. We dug out the rest of our house and then went with the Beast to help a friend who was still stuck in. The only problem was that the temperature had warmed and the snow had compacted, making it heavier and more difficult to shift, even with the thrower. However, it allowed our house to sprout a great set of icicles.

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Icicles at the front door of our house

We saw a great sunset out at our friends as the sun went down and all the starlings were congregating in the trees. It was quite warm whilst the sun was up, but got damned cold once the sun had set.

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Tuesday – guess what? More of the same! First finish helping friend dig out and then over to Graham to help dig the barn out. By this time, someone had managed to clear the drive with the tractor, so I could get up there with the Scion. By now, several volunteers were in, so we were getting on top of things. The tractor was in full operation ploughing wider access paths so we could get the big round hay bales out. We were also able to get to the manure pile and get all the accumulated manure out of the barn, and I trekked out and opened up paths to replenish the water supplies for the horses in the furthest fields and to check on them.

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Canyon dozing in the sun with his purple sheet – doesn’t he look regal?

 

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The herd in Canyon’s paddock. Canyon on LHS with purple sheet. Shaggy (who belongs to / owns Pat) on the RHS without a sheet.

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Shaggy. He looks (and acts) like an aging hippy, but has a great personality and is incredibly friendly, especially if you have a carrot

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Bordick, Domino and Cheyenne in the far field – supremely unconcerned with matters!

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Yardly, with Dolly behind at the fresh hay bale

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A final picture of Canyon when we’d finished and went to give him a carrot – he was most happy with me!

So there we are, we made it through. I have to say that the state and county snow clearance was really top notch, as most roads were passable, if not fully open by mid day the day after the storm. Over the past few days they have been gradually expanding the open areas, but we were never marooned except during the actual storm itself. Of course there were some idiots as always who drove like complete morons oblivious of the conditions and managed to get themselves nose down in the ditch. Frankly I have little sympathy for them they are a danger to themselves and others.

Some sections of the media have been going crackers about how bad everything is and how we’ll be digging out for weeks. Well, today is Wednesday and I, along with almost everyone else is now back at work. The residual snow is now just a nuisance, but it will go away in it’s own time.

However, I do think that tonight, I will not do anything involving horses or shoveling. A hot meal, a bath, some iboprufen and some TV is in order I think!

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2 thoughts on “Down Came The Snow

  1. Wow, great post and lovely pictures. Your house looks fantastic, in fact your neighbourhood is like a postcard. Gorgeous. I’m very envious of that snow. We have had nothing decent so far.

  2. Thank You.

    This was one of our larger snow falls. Typically, each winter we will get several falls of between 6 and 10 inches, but every three to five years, we get a big one. At least in this area though, usually the snow has time to melt before the next snowfall, unlike in other parts of the country where it just sticks around for months, with each new successive fall piling up on the previous ones.

    Yes, we are very lucky to be living where we do. We are just north of Baltimore, yet in a very small village in the middle of nowhere. (Butler, MD, if you are interested – if you google earth, you can just about see Grover’s roof behind the house if you know where to look…..). Baltimore is unlike most North American cities in that it doesn’t sprawl out. There is a distinct demarcation between the city/suburbia and out the surrounding countryside. So we have the best of both worlds – Quiet rural life, yet access to things if we need them (there is a large supermarket and shopping center just 5 miles away and it takes about 1/2 hour get downtown, even in Libby! Washington DC is only about an hour away and it is only 2 hours to Philadelphia, 3.5 hours to New York). That said, it is not for everyone out here. Electricity is somewhat unreliable, though it has improved recently, and not everyone likes the isolation. In the nearly 10 years we’ve lived here, several families have moved in seeking the “rural life”, only to leave after a few years because they find it “boring”. You need to be able to adapt. That said, I think most people are more equipped to deal with bad weather and adversity, etc. than down in the city. With every past snowfall, we’ve always been able to move several hours after it finished, as they are very good at ploughing the roads. And all the farmers drive their tractors with the buckets down to help clear the snow. But down in the city, it is so crowded, there is no where to put the snow and so it takes days (if not weeks) to clear things out to get back to normal.

    The village is indeed like something out of a storybook. I didn’t think places like this still existed. You almost expect Miss Marple to totter by (and the body count to rise!). People keep an eye out on each other, especially on the elderly residents, but are not in each others pockets. The irony is that it was cheaper to buy a house here than down in the city, even though it is a much nicer place to live. Although Baltimore has improved in the past 10 years (despite recent events), I still did not want to live down there, as there are some very bad parts of town. Out here, you are not likely to be mugged or shot! You may however encounter deer or coyotes in your back yard, or an escaped horse running down the road!. We even have a family of black bears up in the woods, though they are rarely seen and don’t bother people. And of course, the Landies fit right in!

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