I've always gotten a huge snicker when in the past folks who come here for the first time have looked about and said something along the lines of, "It' so beautiful here! But...how do you get out in the winter?" To which I've replied somewhat smugly, maybe even flippantly, "We don't." A winter like this one, though, gives cause for pause.
We've never seriously had to test whether "getting out" was important. We haven't known whether there was some compelling reason to BE out there, beyond the one-lane road ...something we would need, an emergency of some kind... With a healthy pile of library books and our freezers and basement full of food, who could want for more? Our thought was that we could get along thank-you-very-much, with our own resources here on the farm.
The verdict? On the whole, we've done pretty well. The unread library book pile is non-existent, now, and the Olympics helped a lot! I've run out of dishwasher detergent, but I can wash dishes by hand; I thought I was running out of sugar, but found a stash I'd overlooked. The baking powder ran out, but I can make my own and have the ingredients for that. So, aside from needing one delivery of animal feed, which taxed our muscles and in which we relied on the generosity of a couple of feed store employees-- and wishing we'd gotten a lot more firewood prior to winter, we've been OK. Of course, there were always friends, (thank you Debbi) checking in with us to make sure we were all right and/or needed something. And thank goodness our health is strong and we've been very careful going about the everyday tasks and making certain to do them safely and thoughtfully. I am adamant about sprinkling sawdust (from MM's table saw) on icy patches (not salt as that kills the plants next to the walkways so as to create an eco-friendly, non-skid surface).
Of course, we are always attentive to the fact that an ambulance ride out of here would not have been pretty if an emergency had occurred. In past years, we've parked the car at the bottom of our driveway, thus making it easier to get out. The snowplows from both counties turn around in our generous driveway, just off the one-lane road. Sometimes they leave behind a huge snowbank that for awhile cannot be surmounted. This time we didn't drive the car down. Consequently, it's been a point of some concern that we really could not move either vehicle, no matter what the need, in this much snow.
But, again, overall, we've been fortunate, and in most cases, well-planned. We have not been off the farm since January 15th.
I believe this harsh winter has taught me a few lessons, one of which is that improvisation and creative thinking are two of the most important components of one's mental tool kit. I've also kept an upbeat attitude knowing that any kind of negativity robs the spirit and depletes the postitive reserves quickly. There have been a couple of times when things were definitely tough. Outside, milking the cow I have personally tested the weather bureau's wind chill figure forecasts and have found them to be spot-on! And, primitive as it may appear, a piece of black plastic tied into a pouch shape, with a length of rope tied to it, for dragging heavy items like firewood and animal feed, works better than a sled. With a person on each side, the black plastic slides easily over the snow. Three things made the sled unusable: brittleness of the plastic in VERY cold temperatures; the depth of the snow, and the small size of the sled's carrying capacity. We had to devise something that would mold to the contours of the snow and still slide. It worked like a charm.
There were 19 other lives dependent upon us for food and water. That's something to think about. If this is indeed "the end" of the long winter, we'll wind up with a few--not many--leftover hay bales. That would be amazing!
Would we want a snowblower? It never occurred to me that we would ever need/want one. I've never even looked at snowblowers, thinking them to be a serious waste of fuel, noisy like snowmachines, expensive, and believing that it would be a once-in-a-hundred chances that we'd ever use it--not to mention I've always thought they were for lazy people who could use a little shoveling exercise. Our good friend in Idaho is always chiding MM about not looking at snowblowers. Anyone out there have one? What do you think?
Finally, I am a great one for making lists. So, I am starting work on one now for next winter. It's called "Additional Things To Do to be Well-Prepared for Winter!
Let's hope a gentle spring melt is on the way.
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone, and thank you so much for your comments and your wisdom. I am delighted to have you drop in now and again and share conversations!