24 March 2021 – sunny and mid 40s

The weather people got it right and about ten days ago we got completely pummeled with a spring blizzard. Actually, it was more like a hurricane with 30-40 knot winds gusting over 50, except our hurricane included continuous snowfall, so there’s that!

Snow drifting into the wood shed

We moved all the cows into the maternity ward and they huddled in the cowshed for the entire two days.  It was absolutely miserable going out to feed and check on anything as freezing snow would pelt you in the face and the wind made it very hard to walk around.  Fortunately it blew so much that the snow did not accumulate too badly on the roofs of any structures, and even the solar panels remained clear most of the first day.

That night the wind continued to roar, the snow continued to fall.  By morning nothing had really changed, it was windy, snowy, and miserable but around noon the wind died off and the snow ramped up.  We ended up with almost two feet of snow but thanks to the wind we had drifts that were well over four feet high.

Lots of snow to deal with

The weather matters not when you have pregnant cows to feed and water, and while we were completely unable to get the Mule out into the giant drifts, we had our handy cowsled that we threw square bales in and got everybody dinner.  Fortunately we have learned our lessons about water and had hung water hoses in the trees so we didn’t have to dig them out from the snow and we were able to run water to the tanks in the maternity ward.  It would have been nearly impossible for the girls to get up to the water tank in the main field as snow in some places was higher than their briskets.  

Cows headed up for water

The cows actually are a lot tougher than we think and they can plow through some of those drifts like a bulldozer.  We try to make it easy on them, though, since they are all super pregnant and miserable anyway.  I’m so glad we built that shed.

Cow shed in the snow bowl

After the storm finally subsided, the clean up began.  Dave spent about 10 hours over two days in the tractor clearing the barnyard, the driveway, the neighbors’ driveways, and our main road.  Our road is private so the county does not plow it. 

Rancher Dave spent a lot of time in the tractor moving snow

If you’ve never operated a snow plow in a tractor, you should know it is not as easy as just getting in the tractor and pushing snow off the road.  The plow is articulated and angles in multiple directions.  With two feet of snow it becomes quite difficult to tell where the road actually is.  When pushing that much snow, it builds up so much in front of the plow that you sometimes need to back up and push the snow into the ditch before you can continue forward.   If you get the plow too low you can gouge and remove the gravel from the road, leaving a disgusting muddy mess when the snow finally melts. Dave says plowing is more of an art than a skill, and it takes practice. I think he got his practice in for this season!

You can barely see the Holler and the Barn on the right

While Dave was in the tractor, I went to work on the disgusting shed which was full of two days worth of cow crap.  I also used the snow rake to get the accumulated snow off the roof, off the garage, off the solar panels. After feeding in the afternoon, we came inside and collapsed in front of the TV.  While beautiful, snow creates a lot of work on the ranch but we are grateful we can do it, and nothing feels better than sitting in front of the woodstove after being outside working all day!

We survived the blizzard which the weather people named Xylia. Hopefully since X is close to the end of the alphabet there won’t be many more like her this season!  The snow has been melting and the weather has been exceptionally warm since the storm. Everyone is breathing sighs of relaxation and soaking up the sunshine.  We even saw a robin so that means spring is coming soon, doesn’t it?

Y’all keep it free out there in the real world and thanks to all who checked on us.  We’re doing great and hope everyone out there is doing great too. 

The Sheriff keeping an eye on things from behind the snow drifts