Thursday, January 3, 2013

Building Unity Farm - Managing Snow

We had a foot of snow last week and got our first experience with managing significant snow and ice on the farm.

Our previous home had a 30 foot driveway, which I shoveled by hand during and after each snow fall.

The farm has a quarter mile entry and 15 acres that need paths to support feeding/watering/animal management.

We maintain 4 cords of oak/maple/cedar stacked neatly in wood racks we designed (next week's Thursday post will be about managing wood) and we need paths between our wood processing area and the forest.

Finally there are about a mile of walking paths that we use for exercising the Great Pyrenees and for managing the property.

What did we do during our first major snowfall?

We hired a farm hand with a plow from the farm next door to clear our lane and driveway.  We mapped out the best location for snow piles so that predators would not use them to jump our fences into the llama/alpaca paddocks.

We hand shoveled paths through/around all the paddocks, wood processing area, chicken coop, forest border, and trailheads.

We cleared the areas around the hay feeders and created a broad area for the chickens/guinea fowl to gather.   We placed several logs upright in the snow for the birds to perch on during the day, keeping their feet out of the snow and ice.

We found that the alpaca/llama created their own paths from the barn to the feeders and their favorite places to congregate.

The dogs loved the snow - they rolled in it, jumped in it, ate it, and had no problem navigating even the deepest snow drifts.

It's clear that the guinea fowl do not like snow.   Last night, they veered off the paths we cut for them and decided it was too uncomfortable to come back, so they roosted overnight in a nearby tree on the coldest night of the season thus far (0 degrees F).  Luckily they are cold hardy and this morning we convinced them that the warmth and food of their coop was more appealing than an ice covered tree.

Finally, I built two sand stations on each end of the driveway, so we can easily spread sand on the entire approach from the highway to the barn.

So, we successfully completed the cleanup of our first major snowstorm.   We learned about each animal's reaction to snow and the steps to take after each storm to keep everything running smoothly.   We're ready for whatever nature brings us over the next few months.

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