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A Tale Of Two Storms

There were actually three storms. Storm #1 was maybe 5 inches...it's faded from my memory already. Storm #2 was 30.5 inches. Storm #3 was 8 inches, but you would never know it because we had blizzard conditions with winds 35mph and gusting to 50mph. Storm #1 was a bit south and west of us, storm #2 was due east of us, and storm #3, thankfully, was centered northeast of us. Weatherdude had me prepared for all three (and that clipper system coming on Monday next) a good 5 days in advance with storm snow totals I could work with. Heck, when it's over a foot, I'm not too fussy about whether it's 2 feet or 2.5 feet. It's not very relevant. And when it came to storm #3, it was nice to have confidence that it would *not* be another 30 inches or even 20, but 10 inches or less. He is Mighty, is Weatherdude. Years of experience with east coast storms and there's that PhD thing, too.

My hands are pretty sore from shoveling. But the story goes like this...Storm #1 was cleared out handily by the snow blower and The Dude shoveled out both cars before he left for work. Storm #2 was much more of a challenge, being 30.5 inches of new snow. We waded to the internet dish and waded to the heat pump. (We? The Dude did that.) I helped dig out the cars and around the house. The snow started on Friday afternoon. By Sunday afternoon (Super Bowl Day), we were out on the roads in both our cars, but hadn't dug out my sister yet. To do this, Weatherdude had blown the entire length of the driveway and in the main car area around the house. We had carefully removed the 30 inches from the two cars and carried each shovelful to a pile. Putting it on the driveway would have meant even more work with the snow blower. So the sensible thing was to lift each shovel bit and carry it ten or twenty feet. Because it's a wee bit tight with 2 cars and there's nowhere to flip the snow. You'll see.

We were out and running around from Sunday through Tuesday. We'd lost power on Friday night into Saturday, but basically our spirits were pretty good and the neighbors had power and fed us hot food. Then late on Tuesday, storm #3 hit. And hit. And hit. The snow finally stopped late afternoon Wed, but the winds didn't. The Dude had blown 2/3 of the driveway clear on Wed afternoon. On Thursday morning, it was completely filled in again. What you will see in the Storm #3 set is ONLY 8 inches of snow. Really. Weatherdude is 5'7" for comparison. Where we were sheltered around the house, we did fine and kept the car area and the path to the barn fairly clear. But what's called our driveway will fill your soul with dread. Weatherdude began looking for front-end loaders or bobcats. I shoveled. He shoveled. Maralton shoveled and also kept us fed. We used the snow blower to widen what we'd shoveled to car width. Based on Thursday's progress, it would take us 3 days of work to get out. G-Dude arrived this morning and he shoveled too. From the outside in. At about 3pm, Weatherdude took a call from a guy with a bobcat, just as he met up with G-Dude. And the rest is being done by bobcat. With a slight delay for ditching the bobcat off the driveway at the very start, that is.

And I just typed way more than I thought I would, but I'm a really wordy writer. For the interested, the chickens all have cabin fever, but they simply don't do the white stuff. By now they could walk on it just fine. It's even with the level of their hatch. But I'm kind and I've put food and water in the coop for them every day. Most days I have to empty and refill their bucket due to icing overnight.

The Teaser...we got us some mean icicles here on Walkabout Farm.

Storm #2
This used to be Miss E's sled run, but right now it's the path to get to the chickens, kept open by snow blower. It's also how the snow blower gets out of the barn.

Our two volvos which had been roadtested the day before on Sunday.

Maralton's little red VW on Monday morning before we dug it out (this is equivalent to what was cleared off our Volvos on Sunday)

This is our beautifully hand-crafted driveway all blown out and travel-worthy for just about any vehicle on Monday.

An obligatory house shot from after Storm #2

Kitten (Ferb), provided for scale

Miss E's trampoline after Storm #2, provided for scale (them thar's 30+ inches)

Storm #3...These photos were taken on Friday.
The nice thing about snow here is the warmth of the February sun. which leads to these outside the kitchen window:

And then out the dining room patio door

But beneath all this prettiness following Storm #3, some ugly truths. Here are our cars, ready to go again. All I did was dump the 8 inches mostly off and the sun did the rest. (Remember, it was ONLY 8 inches.) Note that excavation piles have grown a bit.

Kitten (Ferb, who likes to be out) provided for scale, looking back toward the cars, see the pretty circle all done with blower and shovels and ready for us to rock and roll outta here.

But wait. What's this? The driveway narrows from post storm #2 car width to...how narrow? What you're seeing (the pine branch on the edge of the driveway, right side) is where we stopped on Thursday. Stopped excavating storm #3. Weatherdude used the snow blower to clear 2/3 of the driveway on Wed night and by Thursday morning, you couldn't see where he had done.

And here's how we start the process. Dig a path wide enough for the snow blower. Actually, today, Friday, it was just 'dig a path.' And dig. And dig. Note how deep 8 inches really is, given a chance to drift.

Interlude for obligatory cat footprints in snow, showing it can support at least 8 pounds of cat (Ferb).

Here is PD for scale. He's not a micro-cat, like the kittenz. He's 15 pounds of attitude and Maine Coon.

Here is our neighbor's place at the end of our field

See? It's not that much further to the corner.

Let's take another look at that distance, this time WITHOUT the zoom. That's more like it.

And...looking back?

About now, you're supposed to be bowing down three times in our vague direction and worshiping Teh Weatherdude for getting us out of 30.5 inches on Sunday previous. He is Mighty, as I said. But Storm #3 nearly broke his spirit. Remember, on Wed late afternoon, in a whiteout, he used the snow blower all the way to that electric pole. You can tell where he was, right? Or where we were getting out on Tuesday, right? Sure you can. All three adults were out there with shovels digging out from the winds of Storm #3. Slow, slogging work. As you can see (or maybe you can't) this snow would be over the top of a snow blower. This was 8 inches of snow, not 38. East and North, they got twice what we did and the drifting. Philly got even more, over 2 feet, I believe. And when I said the neighbor's snow ended up on my driveway, I meant it.

G-Dude arrived to help by digging in from outside. I had tried wading through the stuff to have the wind at my back when I was shoveling on Thursday. It was waist high and soft footing. Unless you were headed for a place the wind had carved out, there was nowhere to stand and work your way back. Just around the corner, the cow breeders had plowed the access road for us all. It's over a ridge, so it was 8 inches deep.

It was a race to the electric pole. Weatherdude was cutting and heaving huge blocks. He noted we could have made an igloo. (Had we had any energy left.) I was his squire by this time, handing him another shovel when needed. And when he took a break, I shoveled ten little scoops for every one of his.

The race was watched by one of our tinier woodpeckers. (I've been hearing the pileateds, too.) I kept listening to the tiny sound until I spotted where he/she was.

Again, the zoom is misleading. The distance was still pretty great.

The Dude and G-Dude jogged across the last bit as my Dude was following the right edge and G-Dude followed his right. G-Dude, as you can see, made it first to the pole. But his path was ultra-narrow and not to the dirt, so quality control disqualified him. But, we were out. We were connected to the world. And, as it turned out, we didn't blow the rest out.

And then, the Golden Spike...

Tomorrow I shall post photos of the canyon that is being created by the bobcat that is finishing up the task of digging us out.

One final note. A lot of people have had snow this year. In fact, every state but Hawaii has had measurable snow. I know there are places that get a lot. But I do hope these photos indicate that we're not whining over one or two inches here. Living in the country on ten acres is a personal choice. We're not unprepared after eight winters. We know what we're doing and Weatherdude knew exactly what was coming. Storms this bad and this close together are rare. It was a lot to get in a short amount of time. And yes, we don't happen to own a pickup with a plow on the front. But guess what? It wouldn't have been much use after Storm #3. There's nowhere to 'push' the snow. That's been happening all over the area the past few days, even with the mammoth plows. Now a tractor with a some sort of front end loader attachment...hmmm, wonder if we can justify that for use once every seven years?

Frog Out, sore and exhausted



( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 13th, 2010 02:56 am (UTC)
When I read about your driveway a couple of days ago, I figured you'd need a front end loader. With that much snow, it's hard to do anything else.
Feb. 13th, 2010 03:23 am (UTC)
We were fine through storm #2. Weatherdude could do almost all of it himself. Based on our progress, it would have taken three days of solid labor to get out from storm #3 instead of one day from storm #2 and no days from storm #1. The last time we had to shovel, we shoveled every inch ourselves and were six years younger. Actually, The Dude shoveled it with some neighborly help because Miss E was only 4 and wouldn't let me out of her sight and wouldn't go outside. That time it was 8 man-hours of shoveling. This was looking to be three times that amount and will still end up at close to 16 even with the bobcat's help.
Feb. 13th, 2010 03:03 am (UTC)
Hey lady, you write good. It's just like being there.

We used to get storms like that when I was a kid in Maine. The one I remember best was 36 inches in 6 hours, experienced in our house on the lake, half a mile off the paved road. We cross-country skied a lot. And got to know the plow guys really well.

In Connecticut in the Eighties and early Nineties, we got some good storms. 18, 20 inches at a time; a few of those and the plow piles would be higher than my head. One big reason why I left? Shoveling snow.

So, I know what you're living with, and you are mighty. Be careful and don't overdo. Shoveling very hard work.
Feb. 13th, 2010 03:19 am (UTC)
I think that's some of what's frustrating when it happens here. We don't own snowshoes and cross-country skis, which we would if we lived in a winter climate. So we can't walk out without digging out. And yes, one needs that local connection. When we got 30 inches 7 years ago, our neighbor who had been here 30 years knew who to call. The scraper on his tractor was only good for 8 inches. And dang if I didn't remember who we should have called late this afternoon! The guy who repaired my septic system. He would either have a front end loader or he would know who did. Local boy, went to the local high school. Building connections like those is important.

We're still not out tonight. The bobcat guy is coming back in the morning. It was deeper than he thought it would be.
Feb. 13th, 2010 03:24 am (UTC)
Wow, that's a lot of snow! Funny, it looks so much prettier when it's someone else's snow, and someone else's driveway. And those are some killer icicles.

Stay warm!
Feb. 13th, 2010 03:28 am (UTC)
It's BEAUTIFUL. It really is. I can appreciate how deadly it is and how beautiful it is, at one and the same time. That said, I can really do without the blizzard part. At least not for another 7-10 years.
Feb. 13th, 2010 04:23 am (UTC)
Been there, done that with the four-year blizzards in Denver, except without the living in the boonies part. Yeah. All I could see of my car the one year I left was 6" of antenna. Had icecicles like that when I lived in SLC. One fell down and dented the AC, he he he.

But, boy. That's a heck of a lot of snow. Kudos to the Dudes for their hard work, and you too.
Feb. 13th, 2010 11:47 am (UTC)
Hey, come visit and we'll hand you a shovel. Kind of puts your mud in perspective, doesn't it? I think we're going to knock the icicles off. It's a lot of weight on the gutters. The bobcat got stuck, btw. He has to finish the job this morning. I think it took over an hour to get the bobcat unstuck where the curve in our road is.
Feb. 13th, 2010 04:27 am (UTC)
Great pictures. Your place looks gorgeous covered in snow.

Glad the cats are enjoying it, at least. How are the chickens managing?
Feb. 13th, 2010 11:50 am (UTC)
The cats are doing pretty well with it. This is good because 8 house-bound cats is no fun. We didn't let any of them out during the storms and they were all fussing at each other.

The chickens don't do white stuff. They're very cranky, but are still laying eggs. We usually collect the eggs once a day. Lately this has been a problem. They're tending to freeze and crack in the unusual cold.

And it's gorgeous, if unusual, and back-breaking. Hope you're managing in your area. I hear you got a few really good storms, too.

Feb. 13th, 2010 11:29 am (UTC)
Cool icicles - very sci-fi :)
Feb. 13th, 2010 12:13 pm (UTC)
Killer icicles. I think the cats are starting to be concerned about them. The front of the house is all snowed in, but one icicle is almost to the ground out there. Kid wants me to try and get a photo of it.
Feb. 13th, 2010 11:35 am (UTC)
You win
There isn't even a competition here. Our shoveling was exhausting but nothing like your carving out the Northwest Passage.

Feb. 13th, 2010 12:15 pm (UTC)
Re: You win
Ah for a short walk to the door from the (plowed) street. But if I had that, I wouldn't have what I have, including 8 cats and 11 chickens. Have you dug out the cars yet?
Feb. 13th, 2010 04:35 pm (UTC)
Re: You win
My car's dug out. Figured one was enough at the moment...the main concern here is an ice dam between duplexes that's looking a lot like Niagra Falls.
Feb. 13th, 2010 12:48 pm (UTC)
Re: You win
PS: What's my prize? I hope it's publication, cause I'm getting tired of the kid being the one with all the stories in print.
Feb. 13th, 2010 11:58 am (UTC)
That photo looks like the completion of the transcontinental railway! You definitely beat our snow.
Feb. 13th, 2010 12:19 pm (UTC)
It was just like that. Gary was clearly on a different gauge than we were, though. He went much faster. We had a lot of fun with various snowprints, too. The ones you see inbetween Gary and Jason were curious. We finally decided maybe raccoon. A real triangular shape with claws. Closer to the access road we saw what was more dog-like and figured those were fox prints. The deer have been sheltering under pines outside our bedroom window.

What? Didn't you get at least 8 inches in this last one? That's all that we're excavating in the storm #3 photos. A measly 8-inch snowstorm. That drifted a lot. The original 30-35 inches was packed down so hard I doubt the wind could move it.
Feb. 13th, 2010 02:09 pm (UTC)
I'm surprised you got as little as you did in that final storm, considering how close we are. I figure we got between 13"-15".

Still digging out, and our street has yet to be plowed.
Feb. 13th, 2010 02:42 pm (UTC)
Just north of us got a lot more than we did, so Weatherdude says he's not surprised if you got that much. Leesburg to our east got a lot more. This snow was really difficult to measure with the drifting, as you can see. It looks like we got 40 inches. None of what we're digging out is from the prior 2 storms. It's all new snowfall.

I'm sure you're right and tight and don't need to go anywhere as long as the power and internet hold out. We're getting a bit low on supplies, but we should be getting out today.
Feb. 13th, 2010 02:48 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, our street has yet to be plowed, so whether we clean our driveway all the way or not, we're not getting anyway. We still have a few more roasts in the basement freezer, so we won't be starving. Running low on fresh fruits and vegetables, though.
Feb. 13th, 2010 03:22 pm (UTC)
Holy cow!!

I can't believe your kitty goes out in the snow. Heh.
Feb. 13th, 2010 03:49 pm (UTC)
Pretty much all the cats go out in the snow, all eight. But Ferb and his two sisters, Ozzie and Doodledorf REALLY enjoy it. But they all have routes outside they like to walk, mice to look for, birds to watch.
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 13th, 2010 05:40 pm (UTC)
At the moment, 3 inches, not enough moisture. But if it intensifies off the coast, well, that's another story. Hopefully it won't intensify somewhere that dumps snow in my neck of the woods. Shoo. Shoo, snow.
Feb. 13th, 2010 05:43 pm (UTC)
It's funny. We pushed Miss E outside yesterday so she could experience what may not happen again before she's an adult. Her comment was how 'blue' it was (as well as too bright). I thought it was an odd comment until I looked at the photos. It really was blue out there. She has an interesting way of seeing light.
Feb. 15th, 2010 01:14 am (UTC)
My cat loves snow,too. Marvelous pictures, and glad you're reconnected to the world. With the right light source, I'll bet you could make those icicles into lightsabers.

I just escaped from the snowy north this year and my lack of enthusiasm for our recent snow in Columbia SC was puzzling to my new family down here. But I associate snow with long, dangerous commutes, working outside while trying not to freeze to death, and shoveling, shoveling, shoveling.

Feb. 15th, 2010 01:20 am (UTC)
I'll bet you were hoping to avoid snow this year! But see? By comparison, it's just a teensy bit and you're in zone 8 and your spring will come pretty soon, now. In NY, you would still be in the grip of winter when you'll be sniffing the flowers and working in a garden. Hope you're enjoying that new woodstove! You were once envious of mine, now no longer.
Feb. 15th, 2010 02:08 am (UTC)
Oh, we get a 10% discount to have it installed in the off season so the stove does not go in until April. But we had a power outage and used the fireplace and such. So cozy.
Feb. 28th, 2010 04:57 pm (UTC)
the snow photos
I didn't realize the enormity of your snow accumulation until I viewed your photos. No wonder you were all exhausted. But as they say, seeing is believing. The lethal weapons (icicles) made a pretty picture - especially over the kitchen sink. You all deserve a snow removal medal!!
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )


Oz Whiston writing as Oz Drummond

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