Ice, Ice Baby

I have a bit more respect for Phil Vassar (see previous post Lots of Learning )  than I do for Vanilla Ice, but the hit song “Ice, ice baby” is certainly what came to my mind with the storms we have had.  Millions of dollars of damage to our area and the clean-up is just beginning.

It all started on Tuesday morning.  When the girls and I were leaving our Early Childhood class at 10:30, it was raining ice with a sizable coat on our vehicle.  The word at dance class was that area school north of us were closing.  At about 4:00, Joe let me know that a nearby power pole was leaning and to be ready for power outages.  Supper was eaten by candlelight while the pole was being fixed, but electricity came on soon after.  Then, at 9:00, power went out and, 1.5 days later, still is.  With lines out for miles around us, it could easily be another 5 days without power.  Eight-tenths of an inch of freezing rain followed by 8 inches of snow will do that!


To the left of me, power lines fell into Smith lake. On my right, out grove stands at about half of normal height.


In town, power went out overnight on Tuesday. They rolled blackouts all day Wednesday, and now some have constant power and some don’t.


Major damage to our grove. We have always left it grow ‘wild’, thinking it was nice for the wildlife. I think there is now enough firewood in there to heat a few homes for a few winters.


At our place, we have 200 pregnant heifers. A bovine that isn’t lactating (that is, producing milk) drinks 7-10% of her body weight in water a day. Anybody want to carry 20,000 pounds of water to my heifers today? I wouldn’t even make my son do that! So, we have the shop truck parked down by our well-house, generating electricity that way.

Our main dairy has a snazzy generator that automatically kicks in when power goes out.  We milk cows 3 times a day, and each shift takes 7 hours.  Clean-up takes nearly an hour following each milking, so if you are a mathematician, that figures to 24 hours a day.  It is just a plain necessity to have power.  It is hard to imagine a hot summer day right now, but the power company kicks us off the grid when it gets super-steamy and we make our own electricity so there is enough for others.


This is what we are using for our house. My father-in-law bought it from some traveling salesman, and it is a blessing to us now. We have lights, heat, and my fridge and freezer are working! My computer crashes fairly often, though, and I can’t use my clothes dryer. Right now, clothes are air-drying EVERYWHERE in my house. With the downed power lines, I am assuming that nobody will just drop by and see the socks and dishtowels hanging from our fireplace hooks.


School was cancelled yesterday and today. My son’s alarm clock wasn’t working (generator can’t last all night without being refueled), so 4:00 seemed like a great time for him to wake his sister up to check out the snow. At 7:00, some of the neat factor had worn off and they took a nap, albeit brief.


Our generator doesn’t support our stove either.  We brushed the snow (9 inches?) off, and had hot dogs and asparagus for lunch.  Gourmet.  Slow cooker chicken tonight.


So what is my husband doing?  Well, his morning was spent refueling our generators and then moving snow with the skidloader and the telehandler.  My 7-year-old son might have enthusiastically helped him.  Joe then did a bit of research to figure out how to get feed from the dairy to our place.  Looks like the normal 4 mile trip will be closer to 8 miles today.  This afternoon, he is doing his normal Thursday work, which involves sorting cows to the proper pens at the dairy.  No trip to Sheldon and the sales barn for my girls today (see photo on this post)!  When he finishes, we are hopeful that it is no longer misting and snowing, and he will use this tractor and hay-buster to make our heifers as comfortable as possible with clean and dry bedding.


I am so thankful for linemen.  For those who work at nursing homes and hospitals and brave the elements to show up on time for their jobs.  Snow plow crews.  The NAPA employee willing to get up at 5:00 so my father-in-law could get a new fuel filter for the dairy’s generator.  Radio station employees providing updates on cancellations and closures.  Countless others.  IMG_4347

I hope you are all hanging in okay and would love to hear from you.


9 thoughts on “Ice, Ice Baby

  1. Rita, Sure sounds like you have a mess. It seems to always be a possibility in the winter, but we sure don’t think of having ice storms in April!! After reading your post, the light dusting of snow we had yesterday seems not so bad. Good luck to you and your family while waiting for full power!


  2. We don’t milk anymore but the generator came in handy with the houses. We are back on normal power. Good luck to you guys.


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