As you can see from the photos, we are socked in up here in the State of Jefferson. I’m behind in getting this posted, but that’s because I was too doggone busy doing the actual preparation for the storm that hit us last night. We got four inches of rain in about 12 hours and the winds were predicted at 70 MPH. The barometer was down almost to 29 this morning, the lowest I’ve ever seen it here. Most people think of the basics when getting ready for a big winter storm: flashlight batteries, extra food and drinking water, etc. When you live out in the boonies and have animals, you have a few other considerations.
One of the most important considerations is food for your animals. If well-fed, big animals such as cows and horses can withstand considerable cold, wind and wet. Although some will shelter under trees or in draws to get away from the wind, many just turn tail and stay out in the open. Older animals (our old stallion qualifies) and very young animals may need a little extra pampering. We fed twice the usual amount yesterday, partly to give them the extra calories and partly so we wouldn’t need to go feed until later in the day when the weather was supposed to abate a bit. Sox the stallion has a new, waterproof, winter blanket to help protect him from the elements. My young chickens have extra bedding and coverings over their pens.
Wind speed in the mountains is often considerably higher than down in the valleys, as is rainfall. A 70 MPH wind is strong enough to send my big stainless steel milker sailing off the table, blow the tarp off the hay and pick up any sort of small debris. Smallish flower pots, for example, can be knocked over, broken, and their contents scattered from hell to breakfast. Ladders and pieces of plywood can quickly sail into the wild blue yonder. So we made the rounds yesterday morning. The hay is not only tarped, but has ropes weighted with old tires across it to keep it from billowing. We also keep a rope tightly tied around the perimeter of the stacks. I brought the milker inside and spent a couple of hours yesterday morning picking up any smaller stuff that might take flight. We are also the work crew who must clean out leaves and pine needles from the roadside ditches, and make sure puddles drain from low spots.
If our power goes out, we lose not only lights, but the ability to pump water. We also have several freezers; if the food thaws, that’s our year’s supply of meat down the drain. So we took the little generator down to the milking shed and brought the big one up to the house, just in case. Hubby also made a new cord to plug the genny into the power system, since the old one got fried in a mishap last time the power went out. If we have to use it, we’ll shut down parts of the electrical system, as the generator can’t run all the big equipment at once. My daughter and I got all caught up on the laundry before the storm hit, as the electric dryer is one of those things we can’t run with the generator. Cooking is not a major issue, since have both gas and wood stoves. Hubby and I prefer to drink water from our big spring, so we made it a point to fill up the jars during our preparations.
The generator also allows us to stay up on weather predictions, storm and flood warnings (not that floods are likely to be a major issue for us up here on the hill). Although battery-operated weather stations can provide the basics, I find online resources tend to be updated more quickly.
So far, we’re weathering the storm. Once things clear up a bit, we’ll be out checking for downed trees and other problems. Hope your winter preparations are also going well.