White Christmas

We got our first blizzard Christmas eve (we=me & Ron, but also all of the animals). Christmas morning, we got about an hour of sunshine and blue skies before the snow clouds brought in a new round of the white stuff, but I had time to go out and survey the results of the squall.

Our little barn was built for our original four sheep (not the extra 3 stowaways), and while it’s got plenty of space for seven with the wide door open (leaving ample room for a hasty retreat), it’s a little too cramped for me to feel comfortable shutting them in, which means that during the blizzard, there was snow blowing in pretty much continually. They’re well shielded from the north and west, so they’re safely out of the really punishing winds, but that couldn’t save them from being pretty well frosted the next morning. By the time I started snapping, they’d shaken off most of the snow (they shake like dogs), but there was still a little icing on all of them.

I knew it was cold when Jayne crowded me. He’s normally a bit ninny  who wants nothing to do with the people.

Fudgy was the last one out. The barn’s pretty snowy inside, but there’s still plenty of dry straw (probably where they were laying). I shoveled out the big drifts and then just put a bunch of fresh straw over the lighter snow.

The heated water tub performed well, much to my delight. Normally on a morning like this, I’d have 3-4 trips with 40-pound buckets of water. With the heated tub, all I had to do was shovel out a path.

The Merinos were the first to head for the hay bunk, which was all but snowed under. I threw a couple of flakes on top so they could munch while I shoveled away the snow drifts.

Pretty soon, everyone joined in. The storm started fairly early Christmas eve. I grained them early because I was afraid it would get too bitter if I waited. I’m sure they hunkered down inside soon after, and they didn’t come out of the barn until I checked on them that morning around 9.30–I could tell because the snow was unmolested. Normally they’re up and eating at first light, so the were all pretty ravenous. All in all, I think they did just fine.

The chickens weren’t quite so lucky. The covering blew off their little window (on the west side–with a northwest wind) sometime in the night, and the coop was full of snow. When I opened the door, they made a huge fuss, apparently scolding me for my neglect.

The were mostly jammed in the one semi-snowless corner, with the luckiest ones right under the heatlamp. The feed bags along the north wall kept out the worst of the wind.

Kaylee and Cathy investigated a little, but all the other girls just squatted in the corner.

Cathy seemed flummoxed by the snow-filled nest box. Happily, the new heated water fountain was working well. Of course, with all that snow, they were hardly wanting for a drink. I shoveled them out, dumped out the nest box (a box-shaped frozen hunk of straw), dusted the snow out of their feeder, and put down a thick layer of fresh straw, then fixed their window and locked them back in. Once they had fresh straw, a usable nest box, and some nice throw scratch, they forgave me and set right to work cranking out the eggs. After the long hiatus, we’re back up to 5+ eggs/day, with everyone accounted for. Even Zoe and Faith are really churning them out!

Some more snow:

View from the back door. About waist high at the deepest drifts.

Back of the high school building.

Behind the grade school. Door and dumpster are at ground level for reference. The drifts are so crazy. We had 4-5′ drifts, and other places with maybe half an inch.

Approaching the barn. The green square at center right is the top of a small picnic table.

Breezeway, mid-thigh at the deepest.

The courtyard, ranging from bare ground to chest-high. We had just enough time to shovel out and square away the animals before heading off to the Wichita airport in some fresh blowing snow. I really wish I’d had my camera. The snow blowing all over the road looks like dry ice swirling in whirling everywhere. On the turnpike, it looked like jets of water spraying over the divider.

(Found a youtube video of snow swirling on the road. This is nothing new to people in snowy places, but it’s weirdly and dangerously hypnotic when you’re driving:)

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