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Farmette1769's Blog

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Tag Archives: snow

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Last weekend, instead of writing on my blog site, I was prepping for a big, icy extravaganza. Yes, we do live in the Southern most major city area (greater Charlotte region) smack in the Middle of North Carolina (Mount Holly). We’re a 4 hour drive from the beach. Yet, we have had not one, but two 2018 tropical storms that devastated areas on the NC coast as hurricanes. The second one blew our chicken coop roof off.

On Saturday, the 8th our first winter storm was starting up. We filled water buckets, since if we lose power, we lose the well pump. I pulled out the heat lamps, also for the well pump. Laundry was caught up and all the dishes washed. Before that, I had cleared out the garage for the van and also for the duck flock. We didn’t want ducksicles. The coop was shored up a bit for the chickens and guinea fowl. The preparations went on for hours.

So, the third major storm of the year was an early December rain, freezing rain, sleet, snow, sleet, black-iced roads from the run-off event. You can see the honey bee hive near the tree up on the right. I put a piece of spare roofing at the back for a wind chill break. It was nasty out.

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We didn’t lose power, so I then watched the weather channel.

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I had needed to clean and do other chores anyway, so I killed two birds with one stone(s) in tidying up on Saturday. It gave me the time to do some things that I enjoy on Sunday. I love bird-watching.

I filled up the bird feeders and made some home-made suet with duck fat leftover from Thanksgiving. This pic is in my old bird book. We got one of the male Towhees that day. He was spectacular!

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Three of the five photographs above are from my daily work week art project. As noted in a past blog, it was something that I started to make sure that I took in the day a bit, no matter what was going on. It’s actually a challenge to keep up with. But, it is a good reminder to attempt to seize the day.

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This last one was taken at night instead of in the morning. Now that I have been doing the daily pics for about two months, I think that I’ll let myself slide here and there with timing. And, since “Tis the Season to be Jolly” is now, ending with our front stoop lights seems appropriate.

PS – It rained all day today and yesterday. The ice and snow have melted all the way down finally. The ground has been over-saturated for a while now, and it’s a mud pit outside.

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We are in our 4th year here in NC and on this property. Every year, we get more snow. Being from the North East, I am happy about this, even though it presents some challenges for our slowly emerging Farmette.

"Rocky" the Grumpy Shetland Pony

Rocky loves his grain...

The Shetland pony is well adapted for snow. He gets a Winter coat like that of a woolly mammoth. But even though our little horse/large pony, Big Man, gets an adequate Winter coat, his personality becomes an issue when the weather gets really bad.

He is a blind yet claustrophobic guy. When we first brought him here, he nearly came out the escape door in the trailer, kicking and yelling most of the way here. It took over a year to get him used to being hooked up to that trailer and the fence posts.

Big Man likes to be out in the open. Maybe it is because he can see a little shadow of movement in the distance through his glazed eyes. He also seems to be able to feel your vibrations in the ground as you approach.

So, it will be nasty outside and instead of staying in the shelter of the run-in shed, he’ll stand out in the middle of the field. Convincing him that the run-in is dryer and warmer with grain bribes helps a bit, but I still worry about the wet in combination with cold weather considering his behavior.

"The Big Man Dakota" also loves grain.

Now, the Big Man Dakota sports a bright orange turn-out blanket. Being a bit concerned about keeping his Winter coat intact, I purchased a 420/70 denier breathable jacket.

In the slippery, cold eye of the storm, I slowly and carefully made my way out to the pasture to check on how it was working in the snow. It looked wet in some places, but when I ran my hand under it next to Big Man’s body, he was completely dry and warm. Water was trapped between the double layers, ready to evaporate – awesome!

Big Man wearing his new jacket

After the ice accumulation overnight, I checked again. The moisture between the layers was gone and our little horse was still cozy and content. He was even showing off a bit, dancing around in the snow. It is hard to tell, but I think that he knows that the jacket provides comfort and that he is making a jazzy, fashion statement.

It was a load of fun to get it on him for the first time – a bit like waving a red cape at a bull. He reacted to the sound of the nylon friction like that of impending doom and got quite spooked. All that I can say is – soft words, praise and treats. These work like miracles in the equine world. Even the grumpy pony that takes great pleasure in kicking and biting his blind buddy appreciates these.

Now that Big Man has developed some trust in us, I think that we may be able to close him in a stall barn/shed without panic setting in. I am working on a plan that could be built with doors or without. Hopefully, we will have the funds for the supplies in the Spring. A scaled down version of what we really want should help it materialize.

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In the Charlotte Region of North Carolina, we have had the first White Christmas in 63 years. The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow, did not give the luster of mid-day to the open country at that time. Even if the snow had stopped and the clouds cleared, at most, there was merely a sliver of the moon visible on December 25, 1947.

The snow started here in the evening on December 25, 2010. We were full from a lovely holiday meal, as we gazed out at the gently falling flakes. It was peaceful and beautiful. Since it started at the end of the day, we had little left to do but enjoy the calm that belongs to natural winter blankets. The livestock were nestled all snug in their straw, while visions of sweet feed danced in their heads – and their jaws.

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;*

Our pack of canines had not dared venture out the dog door into the cold, wet world of wintry splendor. They truly enjoy easy access to the warmth of the mud/laundry room. Luckily, the weather keeps any mischievous souls away from the country roads, and so, no need for the watch dogs outside.

When I had gone out to check on our flock for the night, our homing pigeon was out collecting snow on her wings. I had put up a shelter for her the day before, after the coops had been re-arranged. Apparently, she did not approve. I grabbed, luckily caught her and placed her in the main coop for the night. We’ll have to keep putting her food at the door of her new house to help entice her in.

Our small goat herd came out briefly to wolf down their grain. Then they scurried back into the well shed. They like to be out in the freezing weather, but do not normally stay out in precipitation.

We lost a nanny to the cold/wet about this time last year. She and her billy had access to two small shelters on pallets (the male goat had just broken the third; the one on stilts). The pen had gotten too muddy.  The day had started out wet and warm. It had ended icy and cold.

The high strung billy that had a knack for breaking everything, was replaced with a tiny, mild-mannered billy. Ever since then, our goats have stayed in the fenced area with the shed where we can keep a close eye on them, instead of in the small pen on the far side of the house.

I find it amazing how the equine will stand out in the cold and rain to munch on a round bale of hay or just stand in the field. “Rocky”, the Shetland pony, presently looks like a woolly mammoth, so I do not worry about him. The “Big Man” Dakota has a good winter coat for a small cob size horse, but not the stout body. He has a water-proof blanket on the way from ChickSaddlery.com.

In the dark, they were lured into the run-in using a grain incentive. Grain is like a drug to them. If you ever have trouble catching a horse, just shake a bucket full of pelleted feed and they will come.

View from the road*

We enjoy the changes of the seasons here on the Farmette and the snowy wonderland. The New Year is nearly here, but winter is just getting going. The temperature will remain low for the next few months.

The magic of the winter holiday season bestows upon us many gifts. It also a reminds us to contribute to peace on earth and goodwill to men (and beast). Our life here would not be whole without having both storms and clear skies. But, Spring will be very welcome when it arrives.

* Pics were taken the next evening, December 26, 2010.

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