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January 2011

Not much has been happening on the farm, except for snow, snow and more snow. By late January, we had about 3 feet of it. The whole place looks like a World War I trench system, as there are literally trenches dug all over the place that allow us to get to the chickens, goats, sheds, and wood piles. I also got quite a bit of practice snow plowing our street.
My plow set-up is a John Deere 2320 equipped with a Frontier RB2072 rear grading blade and iMatch quick connect system. I have gotten quite good at plowing since I live on a "class 6" road, which means the town considers it abandoned and won't plow it, although I do still pay the taxes for it. Anyway, I found it difficult to plow with the bucket, so I needed a blade. The front plow with hydraulics cost about $1,800. Since I am cheap, I bought the rear grader blade for $650. It does a pretty good job as you can see in the video. The drawbacks are with a rear blade, you need to drive through the snow first, so this limits the depth of snow you can tackle, (although you can push some of it away with the FEL bucket). Also, it doesn't raise very high, so sometimes if you go in a ditch the blade digs in and prevents you from backing up.. so you need to drop the blade, move it then back out (the iMatch quick connect is a huge plus here). The rear blade however, can do double duty in the summer pushing soil around the garden and will help spread gravel also. All in all, I am happy with this set-up for snow removal, but the rear blade does have limitations as compared to a front plow.
I also underestimated how much water 8 goats will drink. I had a 300 gallon Rubbermaid stock tank, these guys would empty (some evaporates?) in a month. Since my hoses are all frozen solid, this is a big pain. So I bought another 150 gallon stock tank to increase capacity. So, I bring the hoses in (200 feet), melt them next to the wood stove and then fill up with 450 gallons of water. I use a 1250 watt floating heater to keep them (one at a time) ice free.
Now, this is why I built the chicken coop like a battleship. I estimate it has close to 2,000 pounds of ice and snow on the roof. Maybe in Arkansas you can get away with a couple two by fours, and a sheet of plywood, but in New Hampshire you need to build to carry a heavy snow load. This won't melt until late March.
My "Shelter Logic" brand "Garage in Box," is not so lucky. Despite the fact, I am constantly knocking the snow off of it, it has developed a noticeable lean...... I just hope I can get a couple winters out of this before it collapses.
Other than that everybody is just waiting for Spring!