Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Dug Out, Now On To Dangerous Cold

I finally got the whole family dug out, except my brother he is on his own. Believe it or not the Ford started up at 14 degrees. I had to let her run with the choke open for a minute or two but she did her job as you can see in the second pic below. Took me about 2 hours of pushing snow to get all the pathways and circle drive cleared. The top picture shows the drift up against the solar panel battery box attached to the shop. I thought the blue from the shed gave it a nice coloration and all.

Total I think we only got about 6 to 8 inches overall but the drifting was well over my knees in some places and I had to do the plowing in small bites at first.

Above is a picture of some of the piled snow in the middle of the circle drive and you can see the drive going down to the barn in the top left. Still has a really blue look to it but evening was coming on when I took these pics.

The major highways were clear when I was out this afternoon but the county and secondary roads outside the city limits and in the small towns barely looked like they had been touched and I saw no evidence of salt or cinder being applied to the roads whatsoever. In the two hours or so I was out plowing the drives and paths I did not see a county crew go by even once. In fact the only plowing I saw on the county road in front of the house was done by neighbors or me on the Ford.

This is how the slow decline continues friends. It falls apart on the edges, services no longer extend to where they once did. Five or six years ago the main roads would have been finished the first day with roads like the little county one and small towns cleared on the second day. My bet is we won't see the second day clearings done at all now.

On my trip to pay my yearly gun club dues Monday night the county road up that way had several areas still covered after days and even a good melt.

But ya know what? I love it. There are only two parts of Winter I dislike.

1. Running low on firewood because I can't get to what I have cut and waiting.

2. It being so cold I fear for the welfare of my bees.

Other than that I am a snow ape and damned proud of it. It is Winter that makes prepping and survival projects shine and prove worthwhile. Winter and dealing with it is what gives us snow apes the ability to plan and project into the future. Future-sense is a trait handed down to us through our very DNA and Winter is the time to celebrate it.

I was out wearing only my insulated overalls with the non-insulated bib and a fuzzy hat in 10 degrees and enjoyed the bite of the cold wind. This snow is going to give us the moisture needed for Spring and as much as it can cause problems and/or kill it also speaks to my very core. I am not all that fond of high winds but on a still cold night when the coyotes are out singing and the world is still and snow covered.... Well it's a peacefulness that cannot really be put into words.

Summer maybe the time of production and growth but it is Winter that defines us I think.

Your mileage may vary.

But I still worry about my bees.

I am going to take the fact that the tops are clear of snow as a good sign that the balls are still heating up the hive boxes. I should have put up a wind break for these hives out in the open but I cannot think of any more I could have done as far as insulating them. That pink foam was rated pretty damned high and wasn't cheap either it should offer more protection than the tar paper most bee keepers use. But we have not seen this many sub-zero temperatures since I have been keeping bees. I fed em all Summer and Fall. Put pounds of sugar in there for em during the cold and insulated them. I just hope they pull through because it doesn't look as if we are going to get a break from these cold temps anytime soon.

With all this snow I imagine I will be stretching my wood reserves to the limits as well. I have used more than twice the normal amount of firewood this year but so far I have met that challenge head on with success but now that the snow is flying it's gonna get a bit more dicey.

I have four different down piles and several cut and stacked piles but will I be able to get to them is the question.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!


  1. Our DNA made it through 10000 or more winters, the others didn't make it or lived in a hot jungle and never saw a snow flake.
    The wind has picked up here but it is partly cloudy and still warm.
    I am surprised that the Ford fired in the cold, you must have a good coil and plugs.

    1. Sf - Winter is the great civilization builder. It's very nature is prepping on a grand scale. Winter has shaped our culture and instilled a sense of future time orientation no others can match.

  2. wow...that is some serious snow. I worry about your bees too, I know what they mean to you, and I hope all is well with them. Keep us posted and stay warm...

    1. JuGM - I just don't know what else I could do. I only took honey off of three hives this year and have decided I will not take any honey from a hive less than a year old and fed constantly. If the hives die out it really can not be because of anything I did only them just not storing enough food. Then again maybe this Winter has been so bad there was no way they could store enough?

      Very maddening :(

  3. Ok, I know this sounds crazy.....but could you (next year) put some sort of solar panel array up on top of the bee boxes that would run, say, a small wattage light bulb for heat?

    1. Carolyn - If I lose more than a couple of hives this Winter after coddling them and feeding them so well this Summer and Fall I may begin construction of a bee house type affair that I can house them in. I have seen houses like that from Europe so maybe that's what it will take here. The hay bales worked well I thought bt the cost, especially in dry years was prohibitive.

  4. Glad the Ford started. When we get snow, I avoid the county roads for a couple of days. Could you build or find a trailer to haul wood using the Ford??

    1. Rob - I got a trailer and I do haul wood with the tractor but the problem is I don;t really have any trees on my own property. I got about 2 loads of wood off my own 25 acres this year, which is more than last year but most of the places I cut are not close enough to make driving the tractor there feasible.

      The real issue right now is going to be my wood buried under snow more than anything else if the snow sticks around too long.

    2. Maybe a longer rack for wood storage or another one a little closer.??

    3. Rob - At this point the only thing I could do really is just add in another run per week. I have averaged two truck loads a week this Winter and just barely kept up where as usually one load would last me almost two weeks before. The only option is to go to three cuttings a week, which I can do of course but only as long as fuel remains available.

      It isn't so much needing to have the stuff at hand as it is needing to find acceptable levels of time. The current rate of burn vs. work involved etc. is honestly unsustainable for me on my own is what I am finding out.

  5. Good report all 'round, including getting the Ford started.

    And forgive me, but you sound an awful lot like an Alaskan, brother. :)

    1. RP - Well I loved German Winters when I was there but can't say I have any real experience with Alaskan ones. Alaska maybe a bit too much Winter though but a few months of frigid cold is good for the soul I think.

  6. We got a bit of snow today and expecting 3-9 inches this after Thurday night. We need the moisture as Idaho is in drought conditions and those silly Californians are looking to take/steal water from anyone they can sucker into an agreement. I don't think many of the western states are going to play helpful neighbor to Cali after the crap they tried back in the late 70's. Gov. Moombeam belives in Karma. I demand he gets exactly what he deserves.

  7. PP,

    I'm happy to hear the Ford started up and you were able to do the work you needed with it. I'm hoping your bee's make it through the next couple of weeks. I think it's about 4 weeks before Spring??
    We don't get our roads plowed just the main arteries that surround the in town hospital, college, and police department. Everything else needs to melt on it's own or the neighbors plow.

  8. i like that you pointed out that our ancestors prepped for winter all year long - they were true snow apes - like you and jambaloney!!! i'm a snow ape-ess....i am good for figuring out how much food we need stocked and even better - i am good at taking really basic ingredients and turning them into delicious food - all from the pantry. i'm also good for other outdoor stuff in the winter that can help jam focus on outdoor stuff that he really needs to focus on. this winter seems like it has been a good learning winter for you, and for us. we've been getting buried in snow, our atv/plow broke down, and jam had to learn to rebuild it. we also learned that when we are snowed in - we are fine! our only worry this winter has been reliance on the grid for electricity as we just haven't been able to get our addition and wood stove yet. and we haven't lost power this winter so that is good. but we are prepped if we do. the addition/wood stove situation will be fixed this spring/summer/fall. we don't have any good hard wood here but we have tons of trees and tons of deadwood. our house is tiny and sort of well-insulated (after jam has spent 3yrs stuffing insulation everywhere!!!). anyway - this was a great post!

    your friend,
    (p.s. - i got my fingers crossed for your girls!)


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