Sunday, January 15, 2012

Snow day

This winter is so weird! It's been very mild, almost too mild, with below-average snowfall in the mountains and warmer than normal temperatures with below-average rainfall in the lowlands. The weather folks had been warning about a snowstorm brewing all last week, but reports conflicted about how much, where, and for how long. I took it all to mean that we'd see little to any white stuff falling in our area.

Wrong! We drove to Portland yesterday for a little shopping and dinner, and stopped just south of Chehalis on our way down to meet my uncle so that Paul could borrow some sausage-making equipment (they're cutting up another elk today). During the five minutes we were stopped, it snowed at least 1/4 inch, blowing big fluffy flakes sideways. I looked out my windshield and thought, "Whiteout." Paul swept snow off the headlights with his hands. Once underway again, we emerged under cloudy skies with a tiny bit of drizzle just a couple of miles south! Portland itself was snow-free.

On our way home, we hit snow again around Woodland, just north of Vancouver, and Castle Rock. We stopped in Centralia and they had even more...not a lot, but definitely enough that the drive home from there was a slow, careful one. And this morning? We awoke to about 2 inches total, with additional flakes falling periodically in the last couple of hours. Paul drove to Centralia this morning to process that elk and called to report the roads are as slick as a skating rink.

My daily Accuweather e-mail forecast today gave me pause. This isn't quite what they'd been
predicting in last few e-mails!

Looks to me like we might get even more snow, followed by a healthy dose of that rain we've been missing. Yikes.

The cattle do just fine in these conditions, unless it's below freezing and the winds are blowing. They have good feed and plenty of water. (They actually eat more when it's really cold out to help their rumens produce enough energy to keep them warm...and more feed means more water consumed, too.) The snow does make caring for our two jailed bovines - Eiger the bull and his girlfriend for the weekend, our young Xoe - since we have to bundle up to feed them their hay, but this is nothing like the winter conditions of January 2009, when my outdoor chore-wear included insulated Carhart bibs over long underwear, leaving me so bundled up I couldn't freely bend my arms, and I also had chickens to care for then, too, and their frequently frozen eggs to deal with.

I will be curious to see whether the rest of the Acuweather forecast comes true. I hope not. I start a new job on Tuesday and will have to drive the back roads - two lane, curvy with deep ditches on both sides - from Tenino to Lacey. My vehicle has all-wheel drive with some fancy computerized mechanism that changes which tires spin how fast if one hits a slick spot, something that really freaks Paul out (he has almost too much experience driving - and correcting for - hazardous winter road conditions...and misses the ability to have full control!). I'll be taking it easy and giving myself more time for the commute for sure.

If you're curious about our strange Western Washington weather, check out the link to Cliff Mass's weather blog in my sidebar. Sometimes he's a little too techy for me, but he really knows his stuff.

I know I have readers from all over the world now, and some of you probably don't often - or ever - encounter snow. But for those of you who do, especially folks in the Midwestern U.S., I hope you're staying warm and safe where ever you are!

Clyde, 22-month old steer.

Eiger the bull, locked in the paddock with Xoe (who's sleeping in the barn, out of the snow!), and staring down Clyde, who's NOT locked in the paddock!


  1. It amazes me that something can grow that big in 22 months. :)

    Stay warm. It is cold here in CT, but we are still waiting on that snow and ice.

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