The first measurable snowfall came yesterday full of big, heavy flakes and wind. We knew it was coming since the two days prior were filled with cold, windy downpour conditions which made our basement pump go off every 5 minutes for two days straight.
All the rain flooded the back and side fields, some near the chicken pen.
I had been thinking about the netting on top of the outdoor chicken area this fall. I knew it worked great since predators could not get in and the ladies could not fly out. However, I knew it would not stand up to winter snow and I have been trying to find another way of protecting the flock. This snow was a lot heavier than we thought so we did not take the netting down as of yesterday. We were waiting until we had a viable replacement option.
Big mistake. If there is one thing that I should know by now it is that the weather is a fickle and scheming force that exists to test the patience of homesteaders. This is what awaited me when I went to gather the eggs and check on the ladies yesterday:
None of the ladies were hurt and they were all inside the coop keeping warm in the straw bedding. The weight of the snow resting on the mesh was enough to start pulling the anchor poles out of the ground and tilt them inside the pen. With all the rain we have had, the ground was like soup and there was nothing to brace the poles up against such a heavy snow.
I got some sheers and went to work cutting away the netting from the fencing and I eventually managed to get it all down and cleared out of the pen area. What a horrible job. Cold, wet and heavy snow, muck and mud and chicken poo all mixing together to create a kind of poultry perfect storm. I got some 2x4's out of the shed and tried to brace the corner posts as much as possible but it was a losing battle as the mud would not hold the bottom of the 2x4 brace and they slid around a lot. I eventually got them to stay in place but as soon as the ground hardens up we will have to go out and re-do the braces.
Snowy, the helper that she is, watched from the sidelines and supervised the effort.She loves this kind of weather and even in her old age, wants to stay out in the snow as much as possible. I would gladly oblige her is it were not for the fact that I am afraid she will get hurt and that she will blend in with a drift and I will never find her.
We lost quite a few branches from the heavy snow and the front evergreen bushes are weighted down to the ground. I have given up on getting the rest of the dead stuff out of the flower gardens and it will just have to wait until spring. Right now, everything is buried under 3 inches of thick, heavy, wet slushy snow and I am leaving it right where it is.