Friday, February 5, 2016

A Sight for Sore Eyes

It's been awhile since my last post.  I've been meaning to write for weeks, and have several draft posts in the making, but I was kind of on a brain overload through January.  When my brain is overloaded, I have trouble being creative and making decisions and basically doing anything that doesn't involve staring vacantly at the wall.  Luckily, my brain has now settled into a more normal mode which allows me to link several sentences that form a cohesive idea rather than just rattling off what sounds like the stream-of-consciousness ramblings of a drug addict.

What really helped was finally deciding on a barn design for our future horse farm (definitely more on that in an upcoming post).  While we are probably a year out from building the barn, it is the singular most important thing that needs to be done in my mind, and when I couldn't develop a cohesive vision for how the farm would come together, including how the barn would look and what its footprint would be, I started struggling with everything because my brain wouldn't leave it alone.  (Thank you to everyone who uses Pinterest and posts all things barn-related - you all helped solve my problem!)

So now I've got some catching up to do on the blog.  To start off, you get the story of Winter Storm Jonas, which is probably kind of old news at this point, but is significant enough to warrant its own post anyway.

Winter Storm Jonas was predicted by meteorologists well in advance, so there was plenty of time to prepare.  However, I admit to having been highly skeptical of the predicted impact (which at one point was listed as 30-40 inches of snow for where I live).  It wouldn't be the first time that a great and epic storm was predicted and reality fell so far short of the mark that one had to wonder if meteorology is a real science.  Nonetheless, as D-Day drew closer, the predictions became more confident and consistent across models, until things were mostly in alignment with many areas surrounding Washington, D.C. expected to get more than 2 feet of snow.

Seriously?  Two feet of snow in one snowstorm?  Come on.  That said, even two inches of snow in the metro area is enough to cause endless problems, as we were reminded a few days before Jonas' arrival when about an inch or so of snow fell on non-treated roads during rush hour and caused traffic delays of a level not seen since the last time it snowed.  (In the defense of all the poor souls out on the road that night, even where I live, which is well outside the Beltway, the roads were slippery and I spent over an hour driving in the worst traffic I've ever seen just to get to the barn by 8 pm.)  Ever mindful of the potential for chaos on the roads, most schools and even the Federal government decided to either close or cut things short on Friday, January 22.

I was teleworking that day, but my husband opted to take the day off solely so that he wouldn't be stuck in the hours worth of traffic that would likely be in existence at noon that day, when the Federal government closed and all employees made mad dashes to the store and then home.  Because God forbid you don't have enough milk, orange juice, bread, and, of course, marshmallows - there was only one bag of marshmallows in the grocery store the night before the storm, so I adopted it and made Rice Krispie treats - in the event of a snow storm.  It's like nobody has anything in their house unless it's going to snow, at which point it becomes essential to have 17 weeks worth of supplies.

The first snow flakes started falling at about noon for us, a little earlier than predicted.  At first, there wasn't much to get excited about.

My daughter "shoveling" snow into her wagon
But as the evening approached, we had several inches on the ground.  I took the opportunity to head out to the barn to check on Nimo at that point.  I knew traffic would be light but the snow still wouldn't be deep enough to cause any problems getting around in my truck.  And despite the 37,000 people that the news channels interviewed who swore on their mothers' graves that there were enough snow plows and salt trucks to handle the snow, I didn't move here yesterday, so I knew the likelihood of me being out on the road and impeding a snow plow was ZERO.  (VDOT, do you hear me?)

During my trip to and back from the barn, I saw about 2 dozen snow plows, and only 4 of them were plowing anything.  I think it should be a criminal offense to be driving a plow in the middle of a major snow storm and not be plowing anything.  It's asinine.  It's a dereliction of public duty.  It's a waste of tax dollars.  And it's a real waste of gas, which was in short supply, with many gas stations completely out due to the stupidity of people who think that they will need huge vats of gasoline so they can drive around in a snow storm.  Sigh...

Anyway, I made it to the barn safely and checked in on Nimo.  He was doing just fine.  He was, I kid you not, the only horse on the whole farm that was outside.  Many of the horses are on full stall board, so they come in at night and during bad weather, but there are still probably 10-12 field board horses.  Every single one of them was happily munching hay in the run-in sheds.  Except Nimo.  He was snarfing down the round bale like there was no tomorrow and seemed totally happy to be covered in snow.

Nimo coming in from the field to see me
Nimo is totally coated in heavy snow, which is starting to melt
I brought Nimo into the barn to try to decide if he would stay in his stall during the night or go back out.  I gave him some food in his stall, and once he was finished, he eagerly waited at the door to go back out.  So I put him out.  Without a blanket.  Because how could I put a blanket on over all that snow?  The temperature wasn't supposed to get below 20 degrees, but high winds were predicted over the next 24 hours, and I worried that Nimo would get wet and cold.  But I also trust him to take care of himself, and he has a really nice, big run-in, so I overcame my doubts and put Nimo back out.  He seemed content to munch on hay in the run-in shed at that point, and I crossed my fingers that he would stay safe.

Life is good when there is a whole bale of hay to eat!
I drove home as it was getting dark, and the roads were snow- and ice-covered and mostly unplowed (thanks, VDOT!), but there was probably only about 5 inches of snow on the ground, so things were manageable.  Also, I was reminded that there are 3 types of drivers:  the people who drive too slow, the people who drive too fast, and me:)  Luckily, there weren't too many of any kind of driver on the road (except for those damn plows not plowing anything!), and my trip home was uneventful.

The next morning, it appeared that it had snowed a lot overnight.  Predictions were around 12 inches, so in my head, that added up to 15 inches of snow.  Which is a perfectly respectable amount of snow to drive in with a 4-wheel drive truck.  So when there was a lull in the storm, I told my husband that I was going out to the barn to see Nimo.  He laughed, he mocked, and then he shook his head in resignation.  And he helped me shovel a path to my truck.  And he watched from the doorway while I drove approximately 12 feet before becoming hopelessly stuck.

There is kind of a lot of snow.
Then he came out, informed me that he told me so, took pictures to memorialize such a rare event as me being wrong, and then helped me shovel my truck back into its parking place.  That's when I found out that our official snow total was 24 inches at that point (although I am not convinced it was that much), which kind of explains why my truck got stuck.  Because the snow was higher than the bumper.  (I didn't feel too bad after I found out my neighbor down the street got his super fancy, tricked-out, jacked-up truck stuck too.)

So I texted the barn owner and told her that I wouldn't be able to come out and asked for reassurance that my horse was still alive and well.  She told me he was fine and I decided to let him stay out, even though some of the worst was still to come.

The winds got increasingly nasty throughout Saturday and more snow fell.  We shoveled some of it, but it was kind of disheartening that it kept blowing around and coming down, so eventually we gave up and I fantasized about Sunday, when the storm would be over and I could go out and see Nimo.

The snow finally ended at some point during the night, and Sunday dawned with lots of sun and warm temperatures.  But no snow all.  The barn owner told me the only way she could get to the barn was to take the giant farm tractor because the road had not been plowed.  Our neighborhood had not been plowed either, and the final snow fall total for us was a whopping 30 inches.

So, I would not be going out to the barn.  I decided to channel my frustration into shoveling snow.  My OCD and micro-managing tendencies took over and I wanted to show my husband the proper technique for clearing snow because if I couldn't see my horse, at least the driveway would be clear.

Me demonstrating proper snow removal

Everyone else having fun because proper snow removal instruction is boring
And my barn owner took pity on me, sending me this picture:

The snow wasn't as deep out at the barn and the horses were happy to be out
By the end of the day, the driveway was immaculate (you're welcome, DH!) and I was bitter about the lack of snow removal.  I started researching snow plow blades for my truck and vowed that we would have one by next year, so I would not be confined like a prisoner because of something so silly as a lot of snow.

Thankfully, the sound of a big snow plow awakened me at 6 am Monday morning and I looked out the window to see blessed pavement, along with a house-sized pile of snow that probably won't melt until July.

Ahhh, pavement, thou art my friend!
I unfortunately had to work, but as soon as I could, I headed out to the barn.  The barn owner told me the road to the barn had finally been plowed too, so I expected to be able to get out to the barn without a problem.

A sight for sore eyes!
I kind of wanted to ride too, but there was just so much snow everywhere.  I did do some hand walking with Nimo down the driveway a little.  I figured he might appreciate not having to trudge through snow for a bit and I had some energy to burn too, so we put in a couple of miles worth of walking.

Then I headed home and back to life, which involved lots of snow removal and cleaning up melted snow and supervising the climbing of the snow mountain.

If at first you don't succeed...
Get Daddy to push you up the mountain!


  1. Ooooo, snow!!! (Sez the desert rat.) Probably much more entertaining reading about it than dealing with it, since I've shoveled snow exactly once in my life.

    1. You're always welcome to come out to enjoy the snow...and help shovel!:)

  2. Loved the blog post! LMAO!

    First thing- good snag on the marshmallows. I wonder why that is always the first thing people stock up on? Same thing in northern Idaho. We’ve had a lot of storm-related power outtages lately that lasted for days and I have observed that marshmallows are the first thing to go. I think people are roasting marshmallows over fireplaces and the heat that is radiated by generators… By the way, I am still grinning over your comment: “It's like nobody has anything in their house unless it's going to snow, at which point it becomes essential to have 17 weeks worth of supplies.”

    Another thing about the whole horse barn phenomena. It has been my observation that the more $$$ is spent on horse shelters, the less likely horses are to use them! At my old house in Montana, for a while my horses had no shelter during the completely rowdy winters we have out here. So I scrimped together and built a basic but nice barn AND a run in shelter. I could hardly wait for the next storm so I could be happy looking out the window and watching them snug and safe and dry inside. What? They would not go into it! I finally got annoyed and forced them to go inside. And as soon as I left, they immediately fled to the outside again. Gerrrrkkkkk…

    I bet your daughter is having a fabulous time still with all the big berms and piles of snow left around. She will still be sliding off them and holding up her sparklers on the 4th of July!

    1. Agreed on the shelter use, Jo. Horses mostly seem to prefer to be outside in the worst weather. I think it's because their natural habitat is more open and they evolved to be on the lookout for predators, which is probably hard to do from inside a building. But still super frustrating that they don't recognize the value of an expensive run-in.