Major Snowstorm Barn Chores

Like most of the US East Coast we are in the midst of a major winter storm. This has been a very cold, snowy winter so far from the first arctic blast in early December through this current storm-in-progress. 16″ on the ground with more on the way.

Here is a 10-minute video of our barn chores this morning. Once they plow our road I can get the tractor out to plow the upper driveway followed by the lower driveway we are trudging on in this video.

Wood Supply

This winter, for the first time in years, we started the heating season with a completely full wood shed. This lets us definitively calculate how much wood we go through.

Today we used up the second of five bays, which is pretty good for this leaky old house. We made some changes this year to reduce our heating requirements, mainly putting in a door between the kitchen and the back hallway to close off an entire wing of the house — the “back forty” as we refer to it. Since the kids are now out of the house there is no need to heat it on a regular basis. Despite the cold weather, it has stayed above freezing back there (barely, at times) but as a precaution I shut off the water to that section of the house. (One thing the previous owner did right in his renovations was to have the plumbing zoned.)

We are also in the process (I always seem to “be in the process” of things rather than “done with” them!) of adding Foil / Double Bubble / Foil insulation in the cellars.

The changes have helped — despite a record-cold December, I have been hauling in 2 – 3 loads of wood a day as opposed to the 4 loads in years past. The long underwear has also stayed in the drawers so far this year.

View from the Veranda

This post will give you a flavor of what our farm looks like from our upper veranda. All of these pictures embiggen when you click ’em (be sure to click on the resultant picture to really embiggen it if your browser has resized it to fit the screen — you’ll need to scroll left and right to see it all.) All of these panoramas were created with drag-n-drop ease using the free Microsoft ICE photo-stitching software.

This picture is a 250-degree view taken today during the first snow of the season.

This is a similar view from back in October. This one goes a bit farther to the left — note the hammock. This blog’s masthead is a version of this image.

And, finally, here’s a slightly narrower vista from March after some fairly torrential Spring rain. The river is up in its banks to where it is clearly visible from the veranda. This is also the height where Cacapon River Road — a part of which you can see on the left — floods several miles downstream. Note, too, how wet several portions of our pasture are.

Goodbye Snow Hello Rain

Well, we’ve had a week of mild weather followed by a couple of days of rain, so the snow is just about all gone. But the river is high. That narrow island in the middle of the river is usually the opposite river bank. Real-time and historical Cacapon River data 30 miles downstream from us is available from the USGS National Water Information System.

Snowmageddon II

Yesterday, Eric slogged down to the billy pen, dragging a bale of hay using a small tarp as a sledge. Here are the anxious billies who were quite grateful for the feed. Amazingly and happily, their shipping-pallet hut with 2×4 rafters is withstanding the snowload.

Snowmageddon II [Continued]

Snow PathWell, true to our suspicions, a few minutes after the post below went up, our power went out, and stayed out for 3 days. As for snow totals, it is hard to get a precise measurement, but we have 26+” in the clear areas with drifting up to 3 feet or so against fences and rises. I amused myself by hand-shoveling 230 feet of trails to the woodshed, to the chickens, to the goats/dog/barn-cat, and to the driveway. Unfortunately, they are now partially re-filled with snow from the six additional inches we got since yesterday and the 30 mph winds we are now experiencing.


This time, the storm lived up to its hype. We have 26″ on the ground and it is still coming down at 11am. We like the “gnome hats” on the fence posts in this picture. Our power has blinked a few times, but looking at the snow on the power lines, we would not be surprised if it went out later today when the winds pick up. The firewood we brought in before the storm is still holding up. This, and the snow pictures that follow, were taken from various windows in our house.

Snowmageddon [Continued]

Somewhere under there are the stone steps leading up to the driveway. We are waiting until our neighbor comes with his plow-equipped tractor to clear the upper and lower driveways before we start shoveling.

Snowmageddon [Continued]

Glad we stocked up the chicken feeder in their shed — they are on their own for the next day or two! If you look closely you can see some chickens just inside the doorway eating snow for water — in weather like this, eating snow is the best they can hope for. It is forecast to get down near 10°F for the next couple of nights.

Snowmageddon [Continued]

We also filled up our bird feeder before the storm, making this a pretty popular stop for the avian wildlife in these parts.

Ready for the Snow

It just started snowing here at 9:20am, the start of what they say will be 36 hours and up to 2 feet of snow. The goats have hay, the chickens have feed, and we are ready to hunker down by the woodstoves. We hauled in three times our daily ration of wood; The upper picture is the larger kitchen stove, the lower one is the smaller living room stove.

Riversdell 2009 Christmas

Barn Life

I hae me hay, I hae me dog, life is good.

Ole Man Winter Still Spry

We had our first winter snow a few days ago, a wet, sticky 4 inches. Mostly melted by today, though. But the forecast for tonight is ominous: freezing rain with ice accumulating up to 1/4 inch, followed by wind gusts tomorrow of up to 45 mph. I. Hope. They. Are. Wrong. [Update: They *were* wrong — it stayed above freezing all night so we just got ½-inch of sleet.]

In the center of this picture you can see an open gate. The billy goats (bucks) live behind the gate while the nanny goats (does) live in front of the gate. We thought that we were done breeding for the season, but the bucks thought different. The day after Thanksgiving they head-butted the gate repeatedly until the rhythm popped the one-way gate latch open. In anticipation of the potential ice storm, yesterday we had two large rolls of hay delivered, one for the bucks and one for the does, got the bucks back into their pasture, and chains on all the gates. We will see what damage the bucks have wrought 150 days from now.

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

The view from the the upper veranda last week.