There is a flaw in human nature that tends to assume that the familiarity of one's personal experience is the norm. We subconsciously apply this to all things in life: family, economics, climate, ecology, etc. If something changes, we become alarmed and want to "fix" it. I can't say I've been any different in the past, but living close to the land has taught me that change is the norm and what seems like extremes are part of it.
|Sammy was a trooper when it came to chore time.|
We were spoiled by two mild winters which made things easy. The garden produced all winter as did pasture and forage areas. This winter has been different. Not that we haven't experienced this kind of weather before, but I confess to having become a bit lazy and assumed this winter would be mild too.
Our three day snow started Tuesday, but the prior week's mild temperatures meant the ground was too warm for the snow to accumulate at first. I was glad because I had to take someone to the airport. It snowed all day long but I don't know how much. The next morning temps dropped and the snow began to stick. By mid-afternoon we'd had two inches but then it turned to freezing rain. That meant a layer of ice on top of the snow.
|Freezing rain left a sheet of ice on the kitchen window.|
It's the ice that's worrisome. Snow is a problem because folks here don't know how to drive in it, and the county is slow to deal with it. But ice is the real issue. It coats the trees and power lines and the weight of it causes power outages when limbs break and fall on power lines. We did in fact lose electricity for an hour or two, but for us, it was an inconvenience rather than an issue.
|This is as far as the chickens would venture, except for the |
Speckled Sussex hens, who are a brave, adventurous lot.
I do practice storm preparedness, but this winter's unusual cold has me evaluating things differently. For example, last summer's never-ending rains and sunless days meant a smaller harvest than usual. This winter's cold has made my fall garden go dormant. In the past I've relied on mulched root crops and my winter garden to help feed my goats. These are slimmer options this year.
|Lily. The Nubians refused to step foot in the snow.|
On top of that, the recent news of Standlee's switching to GMO alfalfa for it's pellets has left me feeling caught between a rock and a hard place. We've made progress in our goat feed self-sufficiency goal, but we haven't arrived yet. Alternatives for feed supplementation are shrinking. I'm now thinking I need to push through to achieve this goal. I've done my homework, now it's time to stop dilly-dallying and make it a reality.
Extreme weather reminds me how poorly we are set up for our goats. Our six does fit comfortably in our two stall shed, but it makes feeding in inclement weather difficult. In fact, I realize that we have too many goats. With kidding due to start next month, I must decide which goats to cull and which to keep. Self-sufficient goat keeping requires understanding how many goats our land and resources can support.
Still, these experiences have helped me to plan the goat barn we are preparing to build. In fact, all of our experiences help us plan for the future.
|The Nigerians and Kiko crosses were willing to venture out to be fed.|
One new experience was how the snow blew in and covered things even under cover: the hay mow, the wood pile, the kindling box and Dan's tools in the carport. It reminded me of the Ingalls family in The Long Winter, where Laura describes shaking snow off the covers when she made the bed. It is said that we learn best from experience. I know that is certainly the case for me. Another first was that the freezing rain froze all the gate latches shut.
Back to my opening paragraph. It probably sounded like a dig at politically correct trend thinking, but what I'm trying to get to, is the realization that my preparedness shouldn't simply follow the trends in thinking. I need to consider the extremes. Last summer our temperatures were ten degrees below average; the summer before we had sweltering streaks topping 100. This winter has rivaled the record low for our area. Plus the snow. These are the things I need to be prepared for.
Now we are in a cycle of daytime thaws and nighttime re-freezes. It all makes for difficult travel, so why not stay at home? I'm sure there's nothing out there to miss anyway.
|Riley, wondering where all the field mice are.|
Winter Weather Wonderings © February 2014