Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Arctic chill after wintery mix

 We're back in the new year, and we got a reminder that the bad part of winter comes after the solstice from nature. This was in the form of probably the worst form of winter precipitation for our location other than simple sheets of ice falling from the sky. It's something that is very familiar to locals, and I've heard is unusual outside of this area. Wintery Mix, aka snow/slush/rain/sleet all in one. So, in short, all of that white in the photo isn't just snow, it's basically solid(ish) ice.

 We have a few different major concerns with this, and the oncoming arctic chill that is going to be coming through. I'm going to start with the most urgent first, the survival of our livestock. I am most concerned about the chickens. This is in part because we have yet to get chickens through a winter so I don't know their tolerances. I know that in theory they're going to be ok even in the viciously cold weather that is on coming, with expected wind chills of down to -30 or slightly below. Obviously given my response to this kind of weather and knowing just how brutal it really is I'm worried about their survival. We've been doing deep litter method for the winter so it's a bit warmer in the coop than it might be otherwise due to the decomposing litter. For the most part the chickens aren't coming out much, and starting today I've been feeding them in the coop and only having the water outside of the coop. We really want to avoid getting the litter in the coop wet for obvious reasons. I think that for the worst of the weather tomorrow we're going to stick with that, and rotate out water as many times during the day as the Lady of the House can handle doing while also caring for the critter. If she can get water out an extra time during the day while I'm at work that should make a big difference for them.
Similarly the rabbits are going to have a bit of a rough time, but that's something we have experience with. We know actually that the rabbits will do just fine as long as they have cover, and we can reduce the amount of wind coming up under them. We built the hutches with the intention of them having solid walls to shelter in for this kind of weather, and while I haven't built shelves for all of the rabbits, I do have hay for all of them.  As a note, Right is the place we've started storing hay so it isn't clogging and messing up our mud room. It was a great inspiration by my step father on where to store the hay. So far no creatures have gotten in to it, and it's much easier to get and move hay around this way. But, the important thing is that all of the rabbits now have at least a flake of hay to eat and sit on to keep their feet and undersides from being in the wind for at least as much of the time as they want. Similar to the chickens, their bottles are going to have to be brought in and put out as many times per day as we can manage to keep them hydrated. The Lady of the House noticed that the rabbits weren't eating as much yesterday which is an indication that they aren't getting enough water.

Finally the other side of the problem is our problem. It's that everything is sheathed in ice, and the way it came down we couldn't properly clear the driveway. The slush that was on the ground couldn't be cleared with the snow blower, and acted like 3d moldable sand in terms of texture while basically being ice water. Each shovel load was a significant weight as well. The really unfortunate part is that I really blew out my back fairly badly a couple days before the storm which meant that I could only do minimal shoveling. The up shot of this is the Lady of the House and I both pushed to the limits of our physical capacity at the time cleared the drive paths in the worst parts of the driveway. The result of this is that the car can get up and down ok with sand on the driveway, but it has definitely increased our feeling of isolation because we wouldn't ask anyone to come up the driveway because it is a fairly nasty piece of work. With the negative temperatures on the way it's going to be some time before we can do any real clearing so that's going to be fun.

That said, we're doing very well in a lot of ways, including being consistent with the wood heat which is helping a lot with feeling comfortable in the house, and a really fortunate windfall I'm going to be talking about on Thursday. Happy New Year!

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