Sunday, January 31, 2010

Winter Storm Prep and Too Many Pictures

We found ourselves in a flurry of activity on Thursday and Friday preparing for the winter storm that was headed our way. We prepare for any winter storm (you will recall our half inch of snow sent this area into a panic a few weeks ago) as we don't really have the equipment to deal with winter precipitation on any level. Quite frankly we just don't get enough of the stuff to make it a worthwhile expense, so the roads aren't plowed/salted/sanded with the exception of a few main roads and your best decision is to just stay home.

The problem with this particular winter storm is that the forecasters were saying that it was going to be big. They also could not make up their minds as to exactly what form the precipitation was going to take. The temperatures were going to be hovering right around the freezing mark. which means you have all sorts of possibilities with winter precipitation: freezing rain, sleet, snow, take your pick.

The freezing rain part was what was making Jason and I pull out all of the stops in preparation. We needed to be fully prepared in the event our area lost power. Snow we can handle but ice is a whole 'nother ball game. I thought it would make for an interesting read to post the steps we took to prepare for the worst with this winter storm. Most of the things are pretty obvious steps you need to take but I thought I would write about them anyway.

1. We made sure we had plenty of easily prepared food like soup if we were in a no power scenario. We can't take good care of all the critters if we aren't taking care of ourselves!

2. All of the feed bins were full to the top.

3. We filled the hay feeders up Friday morning ahead of the storm.

4. Trough heaters were plugged in. For the heaters that are run on extension cords we put plastic bags over the junctions and then taped over the bags to make sure no moisture would get to the plugs.

5. I placed plastic baggies over the handles of all 10 water hydrants. Jason thought this was overkill on my part. However, I wasn't going to go to all of the trouble to keep the water from freezing just to be foiled by an iced shut handle on a hydrant.

One water hydrant tucked in with a plastic baggie

6. We made sure we had fuel for the generator (to run the well if we lost power). We have both well and county water on the farm, some of the hydrants are on well water and some on county water. Thus if we lose one water source completely we always have another, which is a good thing! If things ever got really ugly around here we also have the pond and a creek for water sources.

7. We made sure we had plenty of 2 cycle fuel for the chainsaws. If a large tree falls down in the wrong place you need to be able to get rid of it ASAP.

8. Jason switched out our propane tanks for new, full tanks. We have back-up propane heaters for our house and also one for the well house and barn in case the electricity goes out. Not an ideal way to heat, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

9. We weather proofed all of the horses by putting their water/windproof blankets on. I'm sure a lot of people would be locking their horses in the barn but I feel this is not necessary and often done out of anthropomorphism on our part. If they have weatherproof blankets and shelter (be it man made shelter or natural shelter) I think they can handle anything Mother Nature throws at them in this part of the world, even ice. I think you set yourself up for more trouble by locking them in and then putting them back out on marginal footing, especially when they have extra energy from missed turnout time. Really good turnout blankets serve as wonderful, portable shelters!

I took this picture on Friday afternoon when it was snowing pretty hard mixed in with a bit of sleet. Note the EMPTY shelter!

This picture was also taken Friday afternoon. I find it interesting that these horses bypassed their perfectly nice run-ins and chose natural shelter instead. I think the lesson to learn here is we spend too much time trying to make our horses act like people - even our fancy show horses (as all of these guys once were). Elfin, Baby, Levendi, Trigger, Tony and Dustin happily hanging out in the trees with their blankies on. I do wonder if the horses would use the run-ins more if they were not blanketed and wearing protection from the elements.

10. The tractors and the Kubota utility vehicle were topped off with diesel and the tank we fuel the equipment from was full as well.

11. One of the trailers was parked in a location closer to the road by the 2nd driveway in case of emergency (those who have seen this farm and are familiar with our main driveway will understand this).

12. Jason bought 15 bags of salt for the driveway. This, combined with some shoveling in some of the steep places, at least gets the driveway navigable if you have 4WD.

I have probably forgotten to list a few things but we were as prepared as we felt we could be in case we were without electricity. The horses probably would not have ever realized anything was different if we had lost power, but I can assure you that the people would have noticed!! When we read about the widespread power losses this system had caused in other states we were not taking this lightly.

In the end we got off pretty easy. Our precipitation came mostly in the form of snow. There were a couple of periods where the snow was mixed in with some sleet. I happened to be outside during one of those times and it was not too bad - there was not a single, solitary horse in any of their lovely shelters when I was out and about. I did see some of the horses in the woods, just standing their hanging out together. They were all doing their normal things: eating hay, grazing, rolling, napping, playing and just hanging out.

Our total accumulation was about four inches. I know some areas around us ended up with more like 7 or 8 inches on the ground. Still, this was a pretty big snowfall for us. The weather forecaster said this storm brought the biggest snowfall to middle Tennessee since 1996 (or was it 1994, should have listened more closely). The snow was absolutely perfect for sledding since it was "crunchy snow" with the sleet mixed in. We have the ideal driveway for sledding so Jason, Bear and myself all went sledding this weekend and had fun. I tried to build a snowman but the snow was not conducive to that, and I made a snow angel. I did my best to have the full winter snow experience! I am now ready for it to melt and go away, and it is obligingly doing so. It was fun for a day or so, but the allure has worn off now!

I posted way too many pictures again. I think it is because the farm looks so different when we have snow it causes me to go overboard with the pictures.

Our only victim from the storm was this dead tree that fell over

Jason and Bear getting ready for a run on the sled

And they're off!

Me trying not to crash into Bear who had planted himself in my path wanting to join me

I took one for the team and crashed to avoid Bear


Me with Bear and Bush

Me coming down the hill with Bush watching at the top

The goats watching Jason sled down the driveway

Mina, Bubba and Jo

Jo just before she fell over in a faint, her legs are stiff. I clicked to soon. Watching Jason fly by on the sled was a bit overwhelming for her.
Lightening, Lucky, Teddy and Snappy munching on hay while it snowed; there's another empty shelter in the background

O'Reilly with a snowy muzzle

Levendi shaking after a nice roll in the fresh snow

Tony standing by while Apollo rolls in the snow

B-Rad hanging out (Ogie is hiding under the tree)

Lexi, Cinnamon, Norman and Sky


Norman and Cinnamon

Homer and Trigger
Dustin, Thomas and Tony

Chance making a silly face at me

Ivan and Apollo looking around; Trigger and Tony touching noses



Elfin and Ivan playing


Chili, Lucky and O'Reilly just hanging out

Harmony, Cuff Links and Lily

Lexi, Norman and Cinnamon


Sparky and Bonnie

Lexi and Norman


Winston and Ogie



This isn't a good picture of B-Rad but I liked the background of the coated trees

Cinnamon and Sky


Buffy and Cuff Links napping in the hay
Lucky rolling in the snow

Chili thought it looked like fun so he rolled too

Lily after I pulled her blanket off this morning - look at the hair! I think she could winter in Antarctica.

Lily and Jason

Homer rolled as soon as I removed his blanket