After experiencing the Polar Vortex in January and setting new records for low temperatures, Iowans couldn’t wait to turn the calendar to February. That’s before we knew February would result in record-breaking snow!
North Iowans are digging out this week from our worst snowfall and blizzard of the season. The combination of 50-mile-per-hour winds with seven to 16 inches of fresh snow was disastrous. The Franklin County Sheriff declared all roads closed as they were impassable. Even Interstate 35 from Ames, Iowa, was closed to Owatonna, Minnesota.
Although the sun was shining this past weekend, road conditions didn’t improve due to blowing snow. Snow removal was halted as gale-force winds made it futile; only emergency crews were on the roads.
This week I read where people driving snowmobiles were guiding utility trucks down roads to restore electricity. Blowing and drifting snow had made it difficult to tell where the ditches end and the roadways begin. The drift in our driveway was only 12 inches from touching the net on our basketball hoop! Drifts were five-feet high down the lane at Enchanted Acres. The snow was so crusted that you could literally walk on top of the drifts.
It took us hours to dig out from this weekend’s snow storm, but I’m happy to report that our animals are safe and well. Our goats were pretty much on an island inside their shelter as snow drifted all around the barnyard, but they had everything they needed on their island. The day before the storm was forecast, we put extra straw bedding, flakes of hay for the equivalent of a salad bar plus heated pails of water inside the goat barns just in case we wouldn’t be able to get out to do chores for one day. We left extra feed for chickens inside their coop. We also left extra food for our farm cats that either nestle beside the goats or bed down inside the chicken coop.
The key to winter survival for livestock is like the “survival pack” that Midwesterners should have in our vehicles: extra blankets, fresh water and high protein snacks.
Now that the calendar will soon turn to March, many people are counting down to the official start of spring on March 20. Just don’t be too quick to remove those blankets, extra water and snacks from your vehicle!