The snow started around 8 Wednesday night. We had prepped by doing some of those last-minute pre-winter chores that we meant to get to weeks or months ago, like moving most of the garden tools into the barn for winter storage so that the year-round tools are more accessible in the tool shed. The snow shovels — which count as year-round tools since we use them to scrape out the goat shed — were placed at the ready, two at the front door and one at the shed door.
Earlier in the day a friend had come over for a walk, and afterwards I enlisted her help to move the kayak under cover, something else we meant to do weeks ago.
After she left, I pulled some heavy-duty plastic fencing out of the garden — a task I planned to at first frost — rolled it up and put it in another shed. I want it handy in case we need it in January or February to raise the height of the goat fence if, as happened two years ago, the snowpack raises the level of their yard to the point that the rascals can jump out. Once one clever goat figures out she can escape the confines of the yard, the whole herd follows.
That winter, when the great goat escape began, all the handy fencing was buried in snow and or cemented in ice, and my husband was down South visiting family. I ended up constructing a makeshift goat baffle out of branches, old skis and baling twine, and muttering at the goats the whole time. “I am building this wall, but you are going to pay for it,” I told them, although I don’t think they got the joke.
The fence extension looked like a bizarre tangle of varicolored baling twine, with skis as spires and sticks as cross beams. It kept most of the goats in, most of the time. But I have not yet lived down that project.
Farmer friends and animal-keeping neighbors swap similar “Whoops, it’s winter!” tales, of starting nice and early to prep the yard, the garden, the animal enclosures and the equipment for winter, only to have something get missed when the snow really starts piling up. A tool that gets buried, or some lawn furniture that gets frozen in place until spring.
As long as we’ve set things up so the animals can stay dry and warm, and have ready access to food and water, nothing else matters that much. If we’re expecting a storm, everyone gets extra bedding. We fill buckets inside and make sure there’s plenty of stove wood in the firebox in case we lose power.
But the prep I was most proud of for this, our first winter storm, was planning a snowshoe adventure with my neighbors. Snowshoes by the door, two willing accomplices.
I woke up to 19 inches of snow, with it still coming down at about half an inch an hour. Snowshoeing would clearly have to wait until afternoon, after paths to the animals, sheds and the roads were cleared.
But this snow should last a while, so our forest adventures are just beginning.
Greenpoint appears every other Sunday. Look for it next on Jan. 3. Reach Margaret Hartley at [email protected] or @Hartley_Maggie on Twitter. Opinions expressed in Greenpoint are hers and not necessarily the newspaper’s.