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why so serious

December 25, 2008

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 Things have been a little glum around here since Monday a.m.   We were feeling pretty smug, even with the deep snow and intermittent power supply.  Mostly just getting annoyed with the ATV’s and snowmobiles keeping us up all night.   

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Ominous but beautiful. 


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The snow just kept piling up, and we just kept our paths open and the greenhouses cleaned off.

Sunday night more snow was predicted, but not that much…  Monday morning we were going to move the cows in, so we had a full day ahead moving the cows and getting them situated. 

We decided to walk up the road instead of breaking more trail, because it looked like we had received at least 14″ of snow overnight.  We weren’t prepared for what we saw as we glanced towards the garden and the greenhouse that is visible from the county road. 

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Multiply this times 3.  Do not try this at home!  This is not the way to store your winter greens and cabbage.  Another reason I do not put all my food preservation efforts in one basket.  I can, freeze and try to grow and harvest greens which gives me more options.  I would hate to eat all canned food over winter, but I’m mighty glad I canned what I did this year.  Joel Salatin says, “Nature always bats last.”  So true.


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Somewhere in here is our two greenhouse style brooders.  As of today when I write this we have received 52″ of snow in a short time.  It melts a little and then snows some more, so we are dealing with 3′ of snow most of the time.  The weather prediction is for rain for the next week, with a much higher freezing level.  I would have liked a wet Christmas!


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Two brooders.  Our laying hens are in the one on the left and the one on the right shows our “foolproof” plan for heavy snow this winter… .

The “plan” was to slit the plastic and ruin the covers, instead of collapsing the whole structure.  Because the plastic is the most inexpensive part of the whole works.  Of course the plan didn’t include 14″ snow with freezing rain all in one night.  A snow archaeological examination showed a couple of inches of snow, 1/4″ of ice, more snow and more ice all the way through the 14″ overnight accumulation.  It seemed it must have warmed enough to rain and then cooled enough to snow, multiple times overnight.  It didn’t really occur to us to second guess the weather report.  Staying up all night didn’t seem necessary.  If we had just received snow, we would have been OK.
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These guys feel all safe and secure now.  They are fine, but we have heard of a stable of 20 horses that collapsed, with no word on the condition of the horses.  We are relieved we no longer have our commercial laying hen flock.  We could have lost them too!  No one, human or animal was hurt.  For that we are thankful.


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HD shoveling off the shed roof on the shop.  Two rafters, a full 2″ x 12″ cracked under the strain.  This was the other day, he shoveled another 1′ off this evening. 


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The dogs understood Christmas might be a little bleak, so they kept themselves busy by playing with their favorite Redneck Dog toy, baling twine.  Hours and hours of fun for farm dogs and cheap too!


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Poor Hank had to eat Country Cat ice cream, no Haagen Daz for him.  I feed the bucket calf here, and her milk drool on the snow makes great cat ice cream.

How do we feel?  Sad, dejected, stupid and mad, and many other things I wouldn’t care to type out right now.  Under the stupid heading is that this happened once before, so we went with competitors hoophouse design because “it is so much stronger in snow and freezing rain.”  Well you know what?  They all look the same to me now.  Live and learn, we did have insurance on two, whether they will cover it or not, remains to be seen, and they may cover it and cancel us.   We won’t know for awhile.  Ptown is pretty much shut down.  So it will be a while before any insurance adjuster can get here. 

What this has showed us was, that this was too excessive.  Each greenhouse we added, gave us more room to expand our poultry operation, but that began to feel excessive too.  And we stopped the poultry business because of that, and our feelings about raising livestock we had to ship food in for.   So I guess the greenhouses were great while they lasted, but we will definitely be scaling back on that too.  No hue and cry of  “we must rebuild!”  Research, research, research.  A design that can withstand the freak snowstorm, without us staying up at night to save it, or spending a week clearing off snow.  Our neighbors heated greenhouse is OK, but we don’t want their fuel bill.  We want to be more sustainable.  If you can call growing food in a greenhouse sustainable.

So it will be interesting to see what the coles looks like underneath all that mess…   Something to look forward to I guess.

31 Comments leave one →
  1. December 25, 2008 10:27 pm

    Oh, Nita. Thank goodness none of you were inside at the time. I hope the meltdown that is forecasted over the next few days doesn’t leave you flooded out. Sending good thoughts your way.

  2. December 25, 2008 11:05 pm

    So sorry to hear about your greenhouses and brooder tunnels. A nearby farm had the roof collapse on their silage shed (big huge mess) and we’re contemplating trying to clear snow on our house, shed and barn roofs tomorrow as the alternating rain and snow has started creating ice dams on the roofs. What a mess.

    Glad to hear that everyone is okay though. Let us know if there’s anything we can do to help. (and Merry Christmas despite it all)

  3. srhunnie permalink
    December 25, 2008 11:51 pm

    Nita, I am so thankful that the people and animals are ok. I am keping my fingers crossed on the insurance. Please let me know if I can do anything to help, since I am so close. I realize now this may be an after thought and may not be valuable, but here in Ptown the snow load is 25psf for roofs. I am sure that there is some rating for greenhouse structures as well. I know you get a lot more snow up there than down in the city but perhaps this can give you some idea for replacing the roof if you so choose. But hopefully this freak 40 year incident is over. Hope you have a good holiday.

  4. December 26, 2008 5:31 am

    I’m so sorry Nita – and thankful no one was hurt, man nor animal. I can only imagine your sadness and frustration. The weather can be the worst force we deal with – sometimes there is just no winning the battle.

    Wishing their was a way I could help – and praying better weather heads your way!

    Keep your chin up ~

  5. December 26, 2008 6:11 am

    Aw, nuts! (insert stronger sentiment there)

    We’re all so sorry to learn about this. It’s just sad.

  6. December 26, 2008 6:18 am

    So very sorry about all this damage. Not much of a holiday. We lost a window and an unused silo filling pipe to the wind but nothing like this…..take care, we will be thinking of you all.
    (And spectacular photos, as always)

  7. December 26, 2008 6:37 am

    Oh, I am so sorry! What a mess!
    Glad to hear everyone is okay. Sending warm thoughts your way. I hope you had a Merry Christmas anyway.

  8. December 26, 2008 6:59 am

    Ohhhh….man. I’m so sorry, Nita. So very glad your family and animals are safe. I appreciate everything you’ve shared here since starting your blog, even the hard stuff. We’re sending our thoughts and prayers to you across the miles, my friend.

  9. December 26, 2008 7:23 am

    Hello – I am so sorry to hear of the damage. Thankful tho that no one was hurt. I cannot imagine that much snow. Your photos are amazing – hang in there.

  10. Judi in Pa permalink
    December 26, 2008 8:45 am

    My heart goes out to you. Gee, I was just thinking of you all morning when I was out doing morning chores (and had no idea that this was on your blog.) My stomach wrenched when I saw the photos. It puts perspective in my own life right now…the tree that my dad felled on our power lines trying to cut just a little more fire wood is nothing compared to your mess. I have to go help put a new pole in the frozen ground but I do not have to fight the snow and ice. My thoughts and prayers are with you. The only offering I can lend your way across the miles.

  11. December 26, 2008 9:06 am

    What a mess! Sorry to hear about all the damage. I was wondering how things were going for you down there. Just slogging through all that wet stuff would be horrendous.

  12. December 26, 2008 9:17 am

    That must be heart wrenching to see so much damage. I have never seen so much snow. I give thanks too that no person or animal was hurt.

    Well, I keep trying to say something, but honestly, I just don’t know what to say. It is an overwhelming site. Stay safe, dig out and keep warm. Farmers are a rare breed of folks. Very tough. Keep us posted. Blessings.

  13. December 26, 2008 9:51 am

    Oh how awful for you…I am so sorry. It has been such a terrible winter for so many. We lost one canopy because of snow and ice….


  14. December 26, 2008 9:51 am

    Wow. I knew your side was getting hit, but I hadn’t realized it was that bad. We’re at a paltry 9″ although way east has about 20″.

    I hope things work out OK. We’re sending prayers from over here.

  15. December 26, 2008 10:47 am

    Yikes. I’m sorry to hear that darlin. I hope that whatever you jig up next, is a much smaller pain in the butt!

  16. December 26, 2008 12:41 pm

    Oh No!! What a mess!! So sorry to hear about the greenhouses and brooder and rafters. That just bites! If we lived down the road, we would be over to help.

    Sending warm thoughts your way… Hope 2009 will bring much better times for everyone! xo

  17. December 26, 2008 12:41 pm

    Geesh! I’m nearly speechless, which is a rarity indeed.

    I’m so glad no one was hurt. I’ve been thinking of you guys as the news was coming in. *sigh* Difficult, no doubt, but stupid, no way.

    Mother Nature is stronger than us all. Periodically we get these reminders, and they suck every time. I don’t think that makes your approach unsustainable or excessive necessarily. You’ll find the balance in the rebuilding.

    Thinking of you and wishing I were closer to lend a hand.

  18. December 26, 2008 2:03 pm

    Uggg, that really s@#!*
    John has never complained much about winter until this year. He already threatened to move south.
    Sorry this happened to you guys. Life on a farm, never a dull moment. I beginning to realize this myself.

  19. December 26, 2008 2:11 pm

    Sending lots of love your way…

  20. December 26, 2008 4:21 pm

    Oh, Nita. I’m so very sorry. How frustrating.

    I do like your approach to it. (the ‘this didn’t work, let’s rethink it’ instead of ‘rebuild, rebuild, rebuild’)

    Freaky weather.

  21. December 26, 2008 7:31 pm

    Sorry to hear about your greenhouses. Our cattle panel greenhouse got flattened earlier this month too. I wasn’t shoring it up like I should have because rodents had eaten all our winter green starts, putting my efforts elsewhere. I understand the feeling of not only how do I fix this, but flans for over winter and and spring starts got flattened with it. I was also feeling strained with the extra cattle panel structures we add for rotating our goats. We went from one to four so we could give a decent rotation. That sounded good in the spring, but now that I had to build four new shelters and have to keep four paths clear, maintain more fence and clear four times as much roof, it feels different. Can’t go back, so must go on.

    Good luck, Endeavor to Persevere,

  22. December 27, 2008 12:23 am

    Nita: I have no words but lots of hugs.

  23. December 29, 2008 8:49 am

    O! I am SO Sorry! This is terrible, just terrible! I feel so sad for you and wish there was something I could do!


  24. December 30, 2008 6:17 am

    Oh my god, what a tragedy, ii looked like such a beautifully utilized greehouse. We had a huge barn come down in BC after a freak snowstorm that dumped 30 inches, then rained, adding to the weight. Insurance paid and in the long run, it enabled us to pay off debts that would have forced us to sell the farm. Wish too I was a neighbour and could be of help.
    warm regards,

  25. December 30, 2008 8:01 pm

    Wow. In Desember 2000 we had our barn roof colapse and luckly only a couple of cows where inside at the moment.
    They had just eaten in the barn and they had walked outside when the roof went down.
    That month we had record snow fall.

  26. January 1, 2009 6:44 pm

    Yikes! We’ve had a couple of snow storms blow through, but nothing the likes of what got dumped on your neck of the woods. So glad to hear all animals and humans are safe and sound! That’s a lot to be thankful for. Bummer about the greenhouses. So true — nature does bat last…

  27. January 2, 2009 7:22 am

    oh Nita – I’m SO sorry! What a mess. Very sobering…

  28. January 2, 2009 9:42 pm

    I am happy to see things are thawing out again for you. I don’t know if this would work in your climate, but we use old cotton trailers that are on wheels and can be moved around the pasture. We build angled roofs so the rain can shed, but that might work for snow too. You can find these trailers in California’s Central Valley. Up until a few months ago, you could get one for $200 and they are 8 by 30 feet and can hold up to 500 roosting chickens. Anyways, just an idea that could work for you in the future…

  29. January 6, 2009 8:55 am

    Wow, I heard about the mess on another blog and came by to see what had happened. I’m so sorry. You seem to have a healthy atttude is all I can think of.


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