Up on the roof

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Had to do a minor repair on the siding today before the next wind storm, so we had the ladder up and I FINALLY got to see the view from the peak of our roof!  Raising our point of view above the treeline makes all the difference!  I might be coming up here (at least to the lower part of the roof) to snap some summer sunsets later this year!  A whole new perspective on our little piece of paradise here…

 

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The amazing Icelandic sheep

Well, we thought we were hit with a blizzard here – but it doesn’t begin to compare with the type of weather these amazing animals can withstand!  This story is truly amazing – and although I firmly believe our animals are also capable of this degree of resiliency, I’ll still feel better bring them in the barn or providing some sort of shelter during our storms here in CT, and I’m thankful that we have the resources to be able to do this!

 

You really have to read the article and see the photos of these Icelandic sheep trapped 82 days under snow after a storm in Iceland!

Storms-R-Us

Seems like we’ve had our fair share of storms these past few months, with hurricanes and blizzards interspersed between our regular “just plain nasty” run of the mill storms!

 

At our elevation and with the amount of exposure we have here with very little wind break, storms take on a whole new meaning for us.  I used to enjoy listening to the power of the wind and viewing good lightning show.  Maybe it’s just because I’m older and more anxious about things in general, but I now really dislike these boasts of nature.

 

Wind damage has been always been an issue for us simply because of the outbuildings and the garden.  Corn stalks can get knocked down in an instant, and hay feeders and shelters can be literally picked up and moved several feet by a strong gust, potentially injuring animals or ruining a fence.  

 

Lightning has taken out our 3 phase converter for our pump and irrigation system more than once, and we’ve now had to invest big bucks in lightning protection.  

 

All of this so that we can have the most gorgeous, wide open skies, lots of light for the pastures and gardens, no leaves to rake on our lawn.  The pros and cons of wide open spaces!

 

So when Nemo came to bombard us the past few days, we pretty much new what to expect.  It was going to be a combination of the hurricane last fall combined with a stupendous snowfall we had 2 winters ago.  We had to prepare for wind, power loss, drifting snow and frigid temperatures — pretty much everything weather can throw at you except floods, which, thankfully at our elevation, is one thing we don’t have to worry too much about except if we have a newly planted garden and all of the seeds wash away!

 

As the storm barreled down on us on Friday afternoon, we watched the snow fall harder and harder and the winds intensify.  Finally, after the sun set came the power outage that we expected.  The winds were so strong that the sound drowned out the thunder from the storm’s impressive lightning.  

 

I managed to take some videos before sundown, but these were not during the most intense period of the storm which, fortunately or unfortunately, we could not view because it was after nightfall.

 

 

 

The kids had mostly gone to bed when the power went out, so instead of waking them all to bring them down to sleep near the woodstove, Roy and I camped out downstairs to keep feeding it logs all night so that the upstairs rooms would be kept warm enough.  It was hard to sleep hearing the wind beat against the house, trying to imagine what havoc it might be wreaking, under cover of darkness, elsewhere on our property.

 

We knew that the ewes were safely in the basement of the barn, but what about the rams?  They were in a three sided enclosure that could have been blown away or drifted over.  At one point I couldn’t stand it any more and had to have a look.  It must have been the single point in the storm that it cleared enough for my flashlight to penetrate down to see the shelter upright and two green eyes reflecting back at me.  Phew – they seemed to be safe.

 

The snow kept piling up on the deck and then being rearranged by a sudden gust of wind.  Finally, morning came and we were relieved to look out and see the rams’ shelter still in the right place.  Other shelters were drifted shut and hay feeders half covered, but the rams seemed to be ok.  

 

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I could see Boomer, covered with icy snow, standing there but couldn’t see Drover.  My mind kept thinking the worst possible scenario – wasy he buried in that snow mound just in front of their shelter?

 

It was still snowing hard and extremely windy, but we grabbed shovels and suited up and headed out to check the livestock as soon as we could.  We slowly dug our way through the drifting snow to make a path that we hoped to use to get back and forth to the rams and hens that day.  I say “hoped” to use because the snow was falling and drifting so quickly, that this path carved at least 2 to 3 feet deep at points, was totally filled with snow a few hours later!  

 

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Apart from their water trough being drifted over, the rams were fine.  

 

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The hens were oblivious.  The snow stuck to their coop and gave a whole new look to the board and batten siding!

 

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The ewes in the barn were comfy cozy and were easily distracted from anything unusual in their day by the addition of more hay to their feeder.  

 

We dug out the rams’ water from under a huge drift and refilled it.  They had eaten snow through the night and were happy for a long drink.  With the power outage, the hens’ water was frozen over, and they, too, were in need of water.

 

We had to dig out that path again today, as well as a path to the barn.  Finally the high winds had ceased today and it felt good to make a path that would last for more than a day – however heavy rains tomorrow will do some rearranging of our handiwork, I fear!

 

Today the ewes were turned out for the first time since Friday morning.  The oldest three were cautious of the snow drifts, but the younger yearlings and last year’s lambs were more adventurous, sometimes jumping from the safety of a rock into deep drifts up to their shoulders!  We actually sent someone down from time to time to be sure no one was stuck in a drift!  

 

The drifting is so high in their normal pastures that it might be some time before they can return to them.  You can see how drifted the ewe lambs’ shelter is in the foreground, and how high the snow is against their gates and fences.

 

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The rams also started to push through the drifts and wander a bit farther from their shelter today.

 

Tomorrow we will give the hens the opportunity to come outside, though there’s not too many places for them to wander through this deep snow, but they can probably do a good job of hopping around on top of the drifts if they need to stretch their legs!  

 

It was good to see the blue sky today and feel the warmth of the sun.  People were getting out today to view the snow for the first time and to stop by and help each other dig out.  We even had someone pass by on a tractor today and selflessly offer his assistance with the last of our plowing – expecting nothing in return and not even identifying himself.  He just helped and then waved and continued down the road to help the next person in need.

 

Another storm passes our little farm, and we are blessed.

 

We, too, took a little drive today to help dig out an elderly friend of ours from church and snapped some pictures along the way.  What a difference in the places that weren’t as windswept as we were!

 

A Hereford cow stops to check us out as we stop to check her out.

 

 

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Along a picture perfect local road…

 

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The trees were bowing to us, they were so we
ighted down by the heavy snow!

 

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A very happy escapee!  His owner assured us that she would catch him when we stopped to offer our help…

 

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Yesterday’s cornfield.  Not a bit of stubble visible.  Smooth as a snow covered lake.

 

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And back at our place…the beauty of the snow – like sand dunes…

 

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I think these were created by boot prints from yesterday…

 

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And Blue can walk on top of drifts and feel like king of the hill!

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As much as I don’t like storms, there was a little light at the end of this tunnel today and we began to see the good that comes from these times of trial.  Lessons learned all around.  

 

We are sorry for those who suffered losses during this storm, and continue to count our blessings.

Snow Day

Homeschooling provides wonderful flexibility for all of the unexpected things that happen on a farm.  

 

It seems as though storm preparation is becoming our specialty these days!  It wasn’t that long ago that we were preparing for a hurricane!

 

And now a blizzard is on its way and so we took our “snow day” today and used the time off from school to make preparations for what is likely to amount to upwards of 2 feet of snow!  Once we’re snowed in we have lots of time for school, unlike the more conventionally educated folks who have to depend on the schools being open.  Our school is always open!  Even our preparations today were educational!

 

Firstly, yes – we have Icelandic sheep.  They are made for snow, right?  Well, yes, they can definitely handle it, but it does get a bit tough walking around in snow deeper than the tops of your legs!  

 

We’ve merged our ewe flocks and will be putting them in the barn.  The boys will have their 3 sided shed in which to hunker down.

 

The animals are of course oblivious to what’s going on.  

 

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The sky is blue – the temperatures are above freezing – their tummies are full.

 

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We brought the rams’ supply of hay for the next few days over to the storage shed near their pasture.  MUCH easier hauing it over today than it will be with snow drifts all around!

 

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A plentiful stock of wood was brought into the garage for the woodstove.  If we lose power, we will defintely be depending on that stove!

 

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The hens’ house is all clean and deeply bedded, food hopper is full as is their water.  They won’t be going outside for the next few days!

 

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The barn is all ready for the ewes.

 

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You can even see that blue sky reflected in their fresh water!

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We tossed down a few bales from the loft, ready for the ewes’ breakfast.

 

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“What’s all the kaffuffle?” Bruna asks.

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“It’s a gorgeous day – you aren’t really going to make us go in the barn, are you?”

 

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Hard to imagine what this place will look like in 24-36 hours!  But I guess the word “white” comes to mind!

 

Be safe!

 

 

 

 

 

So, God made a farmer

We didn’t watch the Super Bowl last night.  

 

Yeah – our team didn’t make it, so we had a nice quiet evening reading by the fire.  But this morning the big talk is not only about the final score — at least amongst the farmers on Facebook, the big talk is this wonderful ad by Dodge. 

 

 

 

I thought I’d post the text of this ode to farmers on the blog – Paul Harvey does a wonderful job of reading it, but it’s nice to read the complete text for yourself…

 

And on the 8th day God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker!”. So, God made a farmer!  

 God said I need somebody to get up before dawn and milk cows and work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board. So, God made a farmer!  

 I need somebody with strong arms. Strong enough to rustle a calf, yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry and have to wait for lunch until his wife is done feeding and visiting with the ladies and telling them to be sure to come back real soon…and mean it. So, God made a farmer!  

 God said “I need somebody that can shape an ax handle, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire make a harness out of hay wire, feed sacks and shoe scraps.  And…who, at planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty hour week by Tuesday noon. Then, pain’n from “tractor back”, put in another seventy two hours.  So, God made a farmer!  

 God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop on mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor’s place. So, God made a farmer!  

 God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees, heave bails and yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink combed pullets…and who will stop his mower for an hour to mend the broken leg of a meadow lark. So, God made a farmer!  

 It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight…and not cut corners. Somebody to seed and weed, feed and breed…and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk. Somebody to replenish the self feeder and then finish a hard days work with a five mile drive to church. Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who’d laugh and then sigh…and then respond with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life “doing what dad does”.  So, God made a farmer!

 (Author Unknown. Article reproduced from Paul Harvey radio show, but unable to trace the source.)

 

 

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Now if you’ll pardon me, I have to go out and buy a Dodge truck.

 

Fresh from the garden

Winter chores are in full swing here – mostly collecting firewood.  But today as we were walking past the garden, imagine my surprise when I glanced over and saw carrots popping out of the ground!  

 

I guess that between the frost heaving them up and the erosion from drenching rains the other day, a lot of carrot tops were exposed so it was either bury them again or pick them!

 

How often do you get to eat freshly picked carrots (and a random parsnip) at the beginning of February?!

 

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They were served with stuffed peppers made from our own green peppers which I halved and froze last summer, topped with cherry tomato marinara sauce that I also made and froze last summer with a side of our own mashed potatoes, which we’re still eating through from last year!

 

Eating from our garden in the midst of winter…it’s a good thing!