It made international news, I think, our gargantuan snowstorm. For us it wasn’t too big of a deal. Inconvenient, yes. Life-threatening, no. I stopped measuring snow at 11 inches in our pasture; and the cumulative snowfall was a lot more than that, because it was melting some each day. That’s the funny thing about around here: most of the time when it snows, it’s not even freezing, at least during the day. Over a foot of snow is a lot for this area; I think we set a record for something like on-the-day-of-January-18th.

But it’s not very impressive to people who live with snow all winter. A week of difficult roads, limited travel, some power outages, and harder work on the farm, and then it’s over, probably for the season. Here are some images from our big week of snow.

Snow-laden ex-Christmas tree.

The drainage ditches, topped off in slush.

Good news for collies, a new element to their pasture runs.

Catching snowballs.

The guardian dogs seem perfectly at home in the snow. I bolstered their dog houses with mounds of fresh straw, but they spent little time in them. They spent a lot of time wrestling, however. Moses looks a little victimized here, but he’ll get revenge on Bronte a minute later. They always remind me of bears when they play, it’s so rough. 

You can see why she has earned the nickname Big Bird- always smiling her big, dumb, cheerful smile, breathing hot breath in my face (she’s not that much shorter than I am).

Moses, maintaining vigilance at the boundaries of his pasture.

The ruminants are hardy in cold. We may cringe to see them standing out in snow, but the truth is, they are so insulated by their wool, that little heat escapes to even melt the snow on their backs. You would think Llama would find the weight of this snow blanket irritating enough to shake it off, but I guess not.

Ruminants have a huge bacterial fermentation vat inside their guts. Their digestive action produces a lot of heat. When it’s cold outside, they merely need to eat more, and they stay plenty warm. All of the animals look wet on the surface, but if you stick your fingers down into their coats, they are dry at the skin.

The sheep don’t prefer to walk in deep snow; prey animals know they are vulnerable when they don’t have good footing. They tend to make a single-file trail and they all follow it. Here they are making a stop at the mineral feeder, and then the water troughs after eating their morning hay.

The water troughs weren’t frozen most mornings when I kicked my boot in them to clear them, but they accumulated a frosting layer of snow within hours. This does not fool the sheep though, one of their rare areas of intelligence is finding food and water beneath snow. Here you can see the nose holes they’ve made for drinking. They also know how to eat snow, and often opt for that rather than making the trek to the water tanks.

If you aren’t tall enough to reach the common nose hole, then stepping a foot into the water tank can help…

Or, if you are a petite Jacob cross ewelamb, you can get your whole self into the water tank and paw at the snow with your hooves….

We don’t have new-fangled frost-free faucets in the pasture yet, that’s a project for another summer. So, when the garden hoses freeze, I have to haul water in buckets. In past years, I filled them at the house’s hose bib. Or, if that was frozen, I’d have to fill the muddy buckets in the bathtub in the house.

So this year felt like a luxury to fill them with scalding water in the new barn sink.

Three buckets fit in the ATV rack, so it takes several trips to the pasture to fill the stock tanks to last for several days.

In the evenings, there was a most beautiful blue cast to the landscape. I managed to capture it fairly well with my camera, though the sheep’s movements are blurry due to the low light.

Single file line back to the hay row where they will bed down for the night on the remnants of their dinner.

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