Snow Where It Doesn’t Usually Snow

 Bees snuggled safely inside their hive.

Living in southwest Washington we get hardly any snow. We had a snowstorm about 5-6 years ago and spent an afternoon sliding down our pasture hill on scraps of old cardboard, so when Joseph saw a toboggan for sale a few years ago, he snatched it right up in case we’d ever be visited again by snowflakes. 

We originally come from New England where snow falls from October to April and though we don’t miss blizzards one bit, when we had a few inches of a snowstorm all those years ago, we did wish we had a good sled on hand.

That toboggan sat unused for all those years until just before Christmas when an arctic wind visited and over a week’s time dumped about ten inches on us. As you can see the farm looked peaceful and beautiful. What you don’t see is how we ran around the day before the storm — when it was still a balmy 54 degrees — covering all our garden beds with row covers, tarps and cold frame boxes.

It got so cold last week that much of our winter garden gave up and decided to become mulching material for spring. Nonetheless some hardy plants survived:  brussel sprouts, kale, red cabbage and the parsley that lives in the coldframe. Also everything underground did just fine, all the potatoes, sunchokes and even a few onions. It amazes me how some plants, even in freezing cold temperatures just say, “Brrr…,” then shake the ice off their leaves in the next melt and continue growing. Isn’t nature wonderful?

Our hens completely refused to set one bony foot on snow. They stayed inside the coop or wandered out under the roofed area to eat from their feeders but nary a chicken track appeared in the snow.

  Joseph walking up to the chicken coop with Remy.

We’ve been keeping our cows in our neighbors’ pasture just up the hill. Normally we milk our cow in an outside stanchion all winter. Hardy souls that we are, if it’s raining we wear a rain hat. But our neighbor’s barn has inside stanchions and I have to tell you, in the freezing cold snap, I sure was happy to be inside and milking. Not that it was warm by any means, but we at least were out of the wind and snow flurries.

When I milk our cow, no matter how cold the air is, if my fingers are on her warm udder and my head is resting on her furry side as she eats hay, I feel warm. Soon as I stop, even with long underwear on, the air immediately feels bone chillingly cold again. 

Marcus and Shari had a grand time chasing each other all over creation in their first snow!

Normally we make the seven minute walk up to the barn with our hot water jugs twice each day to feed and milk. If it’s a dark and rainy night, however, we’re not above driving the car up to stay dry. But snow isn’t the same as rain and who wants to drive uphill in snow and risk getting stuck? 

Joseph finally had an opportunity to put that dusty toboggan to work. He suggested it would be a good way to carry our heavy hot water jugs up there so we bundled the bottles in a cloth bag and tied them on. Off we trundled with the toboggan dragging behind us. It was a lot easier to walk through the deep and icy snow with the toboggan carrying the heavy bottles.

But the best part was after we finished our cow care tasks and walked out of the barn into the fresh snow drifts. Joseph sat down in front so he could steer and with one milk jug under each arm I snuggled myself behind him. Speedily we sailed down the hill, coasted at a fair clip across the straightaway and then picked up speed as we yelled and hollered across our field, past the greenhouse and sledded down the path to home.

A few nights later the rain returned and overnight we went back to winter drizzle and green grass. Tomorrow’s supposed to be 50-something and sunny so I’m thinking it will be a good day to get started on pruning the fruit trees. Hope you’re staying warm this winter.

Jacqueilne & Joseph

Friendly Haven Rise Farm

Venersborg, WA