5:30am woke up to a wind gust that shook the house, so got out of bed. Cold air is pushing through the door jams, so I built a fire, waiting for light so that I could check on the animals.
7:00am went out – looks like 2’ snow outside the door. Waded out and fed Snoop, who seems not to be bothered by snowy weather. Looked across the field to see that the chicken coop collapsed – the weight of wet snow weighed down the netting to the point that it snapped the support beams and came down. Shed intact. Waded through 2-3’ drifts out to the stable to feed and water horses. Horses are calm and safe. I cleaned up their stalls best I could, and fed and watered them. Could get a better look at the chicken coop from the stable – is in very bad shape – netting torn, boards broken, etc. will wait a few hours until Kath gets up to wade out there to check and feed the chickens – worried that it could collapse even more and I don’t want that to happen without help if I need it. Wade back to the house and make a second check on Snoop – my foot prints from the walk out, almost 2’ deep, are filled back up with the blowing snow in less than the half hour it took to return from the stable. Tried to shake the snow off the netting that covers the duck pen, but so wet and thick it won’t fall through. I expect the net to rip, or cause the pen to collapse before all is over. A quick glance at the bee hives shows that they are snow covered, but no apparent damage.
8:00am snow and wind continues. The wind is getting steadier and stronger from the north east, stressing the trees even more. The snow does not shake off the branches, but sticks to them and accumulates, bending them down in contorted, white skeletal shapes. Somehow, small songbirds overcome the wind and perch at the feeder on the back deck.
8:30am there is calm so I take advantage to venture back out to check on the animals. I take a knife with me and use it to cut holes in the netting over the duck cage so that I can reach up through it to push off the snow, hoping to prevent more damage to the frame supports. I figure that it will be easier to re-sew the netting than rebuild the cage. While there, I open up Dukes box and feed him and give him water. Turning to go back out to the stables, I look in at Snoops, who seems content to be curled up in her “dog house”, sheltered from it all. It is an effort, but not overwhelming, to wade out to the stable, but I get there and the horses are all calm and happy as they can be closed in. I can tell they are a bit bored, but I am trading their boredom for their safety. I look out the stable window to the mess that was a chicken coop. Zip nudges me to the side to take a look too. That’s my next job to see if I can squeeze in through the broken boards and ripped netting to the shed. To get there, I find the snow even deeper in the paddock – up to and above my knees. I get there though, and squeeze through and get to the shed door. The girls are safe, have food and water, and a nest for egg laying. But they are clucking and nervous – instinct tells them things are not right. The coop is destroyed – the netting is ripped down, 4x4 supports leaned over , support spans snapped…I will have to begin from scratch and rebuild it. But that will be sometime in the future, after the snow melts. Meanwhile, I will either have to rig up some kind of pen to protect them from the hawks, or move them in with Duke. I will decide that tomorrow when I can really assess the damage and what I can salvage. On the way back, I make a new trail, as once again, my trail coming out has been refilled by the new snow.
11:30am Looking outside and checking the radar we are in a sliver of relief from the snow, but not the winds, which are growing stronger and steadier each hour. It looks as though there will be a heavy band of snow upon us in the next hour. Looking out the house windows, the east yard is littered with tree branches and the coop has caved in even more as the snow adds weight to what was standing. From the front window facing north, branches of the fir tree that begin over ten feet up are bent to the point that there tips are touching the ground. The wind continues to push the snow across the open areas, creating white swirling clouds that twist and turn before smashing into the tree line out back.
1:00pm went back out to check on the horses and Snoopie. I will check the duck and chickens later this afternoon on my next trip out. The storm is beginning to ramp back up – a cold steady wind slinging a fusillade of pelleted snow sideways from the north. Snoops is ok, but I need to clear away a drift at her cage door to get inside where she stays curled up and warm in her house. I gave her a few peanuts as a treat and headed back out to the stable. The snow is deeper, and a huge drift guards the back doors of the stable. I push through and check on the horses. Louie was napping and I woke him with my voice, while Zip and Patrick gave me a chorus of deep throaty whinnies as a hello. They were fine. Its warm in the stable – its amazing how much heat these guys can give off – its at least 35 degrees in the stable compared to the low 20’s outside. I give them each another flake of hay and retrace my steps back to the house…
4:00pm still snowing, but flakes this time, rather than the pellets. Snow just keeps getting deeper and each trip takes more effort to wade through it than before! Made what I hope to be the last time out to check on the animals. All are ok – even got four eggs from the chickens. When we were checking on the horses Patrick pushed his way out of the stall and through the stable door to what he at first thought was great freedom… until he stepped into the three foot drift outside. He just stopped, up to his fat belly in snow, and began pawing the snow to find the ground, looking back at me as if I had played some prank with his green grass. In seconds he turned back, having decided that the stable was not such a bad place to be after all. The song birds are crowded on the feeder getting what they can before dark. The storm is expected to last a few more hours and then taper off. I will deal with shoveling out tomorrow, but for now, I’m calling it a day.