Today, a few days after the huge snowstorm, our plan was cross-country skiing. After making an omelet for breakfast, D. said, “I was thinking it would be good to get out to the farm and get some snowshoeing in.” I’d kind of thought that today, we’d go to Indian Lake County Park to ski and that tomorrow we’d go to Blue Mound State Park to ski, but given the option of snowshoeing at the farm and having not been out there since early January, I was immediately ready to change plans, even if it meant significant shoveling to get the car off the road. We packed a couple of choices of gloves, dry socks, jerky, granola, tamari almonds, dried fruit, some water and a blanket to make sure we wouldn’t snag our pants going over the rusty gate. We also packed a selection of snow shovels. Then we started the hour drive, alternately looking at hawks sitting in trees, various snow drift formations and working on the newspaper crossword puzzle. The roads were good, but when we were ready to turn onto our road from the state highway, the snow drifts were high and the road was only cleared one car-width through the drift. That caused us some concern about what we’d find at the foot of our driveway, but we found encouragement as we drove down the road to see that in some places, the shoulder had been plowed fairly wide. As we approached the farm driveway, we found that the snow had been pushed into a big pile far enough off the road to give us a good-sized parking space. The road was also plowed clear up to the mail box. That doesn’t matter, because since July, we’ve only received one unimportant piece of mail there, but it was still good to see. I grabbed the backpack, D. took the blanket to drape over the gate and we put on our snowshoes and hopped over the gate. While snow shoes were nice to have when I was there in mid-December, there was so much snow and it was so deeply drifted that I don’t think we could have made it without them today. We walked in and checked on the barn and the spring house. Then we figured we’d make it up to the shack. Snow was deeply drifted around the front door of the shack, so after D. checked around the back for animal foot prints on the ground and the roof he used a snow shoe to dig out enough snow that we could open the door. We walked in to find that there had been no large rodent (raccoon) activity and only minor small rodent (mouse) activity. I ditched my fleece vest and hung up the backpack on one of the hooks and then we set out for the back of the property. We heard strange noises indicating that the snow is settling. They really echo through the valley. On a mountain, those noises would be cause for concern. In our valley, not so much.
We walked all the way to the back, looking at weeds and other plants protruding through the snow, speculating about where the badger was and noting downed trees that we could cut up and haul out as firewood as well as talking about plans for eradicating multiflora rose, first along the driveway and trails and then isolated patches in a couple of the pastures. On the return trip, I went around the south side of the barn so that I could have a look inside. The west door had either blown open or it had been pushed open by a raccoon. There were certainly some tracks leading in and out. My eyes quickly adjusted to the lower light in the barn and I saw a raccoon in the corner in a pile of hay. I would have liked to believe it was sleeping, but it didn’t stir. I caught up with D. up at the shack and we ate a little of our food and drank some water before locking up and heading out. Since November, we’ve had a fire built in the wood stove, ready to light. We also have a quarter cord of wood stacked inside. I don’t imagine we’ll stay overnight until some time in March. We certainly can’t get any work done out there while the snow is so deep.
It was a beautiful day to get out. Walking around was challenging. The days are noticeably longer now and today really wasn’t cold. We’re so full of plans that we can’t act on right now. I really want to enjoy the wonderful snow that we have while I can, but I also want it to go away as I dream of blooming apple trees, tilling the new garden plot, the swallows returning to nest in the barn, of sleeping in a tent on Wisconsin River sandbars and hiking in the hot sun in the Sonoran Desert at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. The thing that seems the furthest off is really the closest. Once March comes, winter’s days will be numbered and we can really move on with the plans.