Thursday, November 3, 2011

When Nature Calls

No, this isn't about bathrooms, this really is about when nature happens. Something that one often hears about farming is that you are at the mercy of the weather. The same is true of homesteading, and it really is true. It's not just that you're at the mercy of the weather in terms of if it rains you can't work. It means that when the time comes in the season that you need to do something, you have to do it Now. I've been told this a number of times, but it really hit home with the snow. Read about the progression below the cut.

Warning, this post is quite picture heavy.

The Day Before
The weather is pleasant, in the 60s during the day and the 40s at night. Weather predictions from and other agencies are saying 4-5 inches at the high end for our area. Given that the driveway has a fair amount of tree cover over it, despite the plow truck we ordered not arriving yet, we're not too terribly concerned. That said, the day before we did go and make sure we had rock salt, and a snow shovel. By the end of the day the firewood we were waiting on still hasn't been delivered much to our frustration.

The Morning Of
Having had a long week, and having gotten to bed quite late we decided to not set an alarm. Unusually for us we woke up at 11:00, having missed our chance to get our trash to the transfer station. The sky was rather cloudy and sleet gray. We felt entirely prepared for four inches of snow.

The snow began coming down. It was coming down at a relatively sedate pace. The lady of the house and our boarder decide to go out and get some things. I stick around at home attempting to learn how to knit with great frustration.

I went out to shovel the porch and steps given that things have come down fairly quickly and I figure they'll want an easy way back up to the house. Also the more often you shovel the easier it is. They manage barely to get back up the driveway, and I learn roads are already closing.

The Back Yard
The Front Yard

By this point I'm shoveling once an hour to deal with huge amounts of snow coming down. There's enough coming down it takes about 15 minutes to shovel the deck and the stairs, and I can't even get to working on the driveway.
The Back Yard
 The Front Yard
As a note, the picture above was taken 15 minutes after shoveling clear the front walk that you can see at the bottom of the image.

At this point, having shoveled 7 times, we were ready to go to bed. The wood stove is burning merrily, and I was fairly certain I was not going to make it in to work tomorrow. It was still snowing quite hard, and holding up a 2 foot measuring stick, we realized just how much more than 4" of snow we'd gotten.

The Next Two Days
For most of the next day we let the dogs run around, and got started on the shoveling. That was when I learned just how long 200 yards really can be. With the help of our housemate for a bit of the way, and the enthusiastic "snow breaking" of a pair of energetic dogs over the course of 8 hours of actual work, I got my way to the bottom of the driveway. I really didn't want to do all of it in that short of a time, and if I'd had a choice I'd have spread it over a third day because with as much snow as we got on the ground totaling around 30 inches it was very hard work.

This shot is down the driveway from just about where the shed is, just to the right beyond the edge of the picture with the car in it, and just to the left of the edge of the picture with the tree limb.

This is me shoveling away on the mid driveway flat segment which was much easier than the downhill. I hadn't known before just how much harder shoveling down hill would be.

This is looking up the flat middle third of our driveway. About a third is left behind the camera, at that point still not shoveled.

The Lesson

Overall, what I took from this is, when something comes up that has to do with the weather, don't delay, don't say "man, but I'm tired." Just get it done. In the end I had the driveway shoveled in time for us to get to work on Tuesday morning, having spent the afternoon Sunday, and most of the day Monday shoveling. Knowing then what I know now, I would have spent a lot more of my Sunday shoveling. It wouldn't have made the job any shorter or easier, but it certainly would have been done sooner on Monday giving me more of a chance to recover before Tuesday. To be fair, in the future I hope to have a plow truck and do a plow run every couple of hours down the driveway so it never gets bad, however learning experiences are everywhere, and many of them aren't terribly pleasant.

Photos Copyright Michelle Vigeant and Coureton Dalton 20011


  1. I do hope you get your plow truck soon but an investment in a good snow blower can't hurt either. Yes, it is another gas powered thing but if either of you get injured shoveling, the remaining person may not be able to keep up with the snow and take care of the injured one without over taxing him or herself. Good snow thowers can run anywhere from $600 to $1,500, depoending on how wide you want and any extra bells and whistles they come with. There are also good used ones available at many local power shops, check them out and make sure you have a list of what was fixed on it before you buy!

  2. Sadly a snow thrower just isn't an option for us given that we have rock stairs down to gravel. The only thing it could be used on is the porch which is relatively small. Gravel would destroy it rapidly, and it would wreck the driveway. We initially wanted to get one, but when speaking to the salesman realized we couldn't.