Yesterday the snow and the wind fought it out all day and into the night. The umpire fled, the cheerleaders bolted. The game deteriorated into a brawl. It was all about hard faced driving snow. Snow piling up just where you want to walk, then blowing itself up into, around and ahead of the next place you want to walk. A team of winds howled and chased the snow down as it tried to fall. Stretched out and biting at it like dogs chasing rabbits. This was not the soft gentle snow of Christmas cards, this was a world of cold icy vicious unforgiving snow. Quarreling with a vengeful wind. Biting back. Snapping. In fact it was just as bad as forecast.
But once I had my clown suit on and my hoodie pulled right down over my face like the shy monk that I really wish I was sometimes, I found it more bearable than it looked.
So the morning puttered along in a chilly snowy kind of way. Though we were slowly being snowed in. And the wind would take you of your feet if you were not careful. Yes that is me, off out to see to my animals. See how the wind was digging the snow out of some pathways and hurling it into others.
The snow finds any crack and slowly feeds tiny dust mites of snow into the barn. Much as I would love new barn doors! There are so many cracks in this old barn that the snow drifts in from all directions. But it is quiet in there. Churchlike.
By afternoon it began to get very cold with the wind increasing. So I put a pot of stock on the stove, a roast of pork in the oven to heat both the kitchen and the dinner. Set the dehydrator to make some sweet potato dog treats (thank you Post Mistress). More warmth in the kitchen.
Sliced up some of the bacon for pancetta.
Experimented with making risotto rissoles.
Very easy. Just take the cold risotto, (which was made the night before with kale, parmesan and lemon) – pat firmy into a patty with floured hands, then pan-fry in a little butter until hot and crunchy on the outside. We ate them for lunch with a hot thai sauce. Very good. I will make these often now.
I chatted online to Bob, whose sow Belle is pregnant with our KuneKune, (we hope). Here is Belle as a piglet and then all grown up. If you want to see more kunekune’s pop over to Bobs site. Sherry (one of the fellowship) is buying one too. We are both excited.
These images are taken from Bobs site. (Belle as a piglet and Belle as a grown sow almost ready to farrow.) This time she is due to farrow Feb 1st.
As the day progressed the wind increased and the snow never stopped. Soon each time I went out to visit the barn I would return with eyes stinging from the flying snow and as the drifts got deeper, Boo and I found ourselves up to our knees in snow as we struggled across. Well my knees, Boos face.
TonTon elected to stay in the barn most of the day. In the end I made him go inside and he took himself to the bedroom and sulked. The wind was making him very anxious about his animals. He was leaping gate after gate, checking each one as I scooped manure sodden straw up against all the big doors letting the icy blast seal the cracks shut for me.
Then it got even colder and the wind was blowing so hard I could not open and shut my little doors anymore. They were being frozen open or shut by the wind, and the snow was freezing in front of them. It was even getting hard to get in and out of the house. Inside the barn was fine still. No wind in there. Just munching and shuffling and watching. Everyone was fed extra.
Getting to and from the barn was getting pretty wild. Thank God my crampons came in time. The cats would not come in, the weather terrified them, I left them full and curled up in warm hay corners. Visiting the chickens at the end of the day, meant walking through snow drifts as high as my waist, the air whited out with blowing snow that stung my face. Then trying to open the door into the wind. I finally fell into the chook house with the wind slamming the door at my back and all the chooks, sitting comfortably on their roosts turned around and said “What the Hell are you Doing out in this weather!” They all mumbled and shuffled closer together and told me not to let the door smack me on the bottom on my way out! Humans! Letting in the draft. I heard someone say as I left..
By dark I had to concede that I could not go out anymore. I had done the best I could. Already John had come out looking for me twice. The cows and the sheep are all bred for cold temperatures and have not led spoiled lives.
And the deepest cold with its skin stripping wind does not come in until this morning. Somehow it being light makes that feel easier to manage. But with a high of -13F (-25C) under clear skies with a howling gale (25-35mph- 56k) that takes us this down to -45F (-42) wind chill. I am filled with dread. There was a door last night that I could not close fully, the ice got to it first but it was in the lee of the wind, with plenty of room inside for the sheep to get out of the wind and not too much of a problem. Today the wind will swing around and this door will have to be dislodged from the icy ground and shut. Somehow.
I think the animals are better set up for this cold than I am. I am going to have to find a wooly hat. I know that many people routinely farm in climates like this. But here we are just not set up for it. I have no heated barn. I am used to letting the doors stand open almost all winter. At least it is only for a few days.
This morning I was ready to go out again at 5am. The wind was in a lull, and had dropped to a brisk breeze. It was -13F. On entering the barn, after crawling up out of a drift up to my waist, I broke the seal of ice on the barn door and entered a quiet deeply cold atmosphere. Three warm cats leapt out of the shadows and onto their dinner table.Sheila grunted to me from under her mound of straw, The Plonkers opened one eye each and said let us know when breakfast is ready. Daisy and Queenie rose up out of their beds, ice and fine snow covering their bodies, stalactites of frozen breath hanging from their noses. The sheep milled about comfortable in their thick woolen coats.
Everyone was fed and frozen buckets of water carried back inside and swapped for clean buckets of fresh water, then the pigs tucked themselves back into bed, under their warm lights, Daisy looked for ways to steal the sheep’s hay, the cats disappeared back into the hay bales and I turned off the light, called the dogs and pushed the door shut again. I will feed the chickens when it is light.
It is still dark as I write. So I have not seen what is out there. Though the sky is clear. I will take Camera House out into the dawn soon. We have two days of this deep cold now.
Still we are all very well fed. And the fire is warm, and worse things happen at sea!
Your friend on the farm