On Thursday afternoon, February 7, snow began to fall and continued for days until it piled up close to 3 feet with 4-foot drifts everywhere. Every door opening to the house and barn had 5-foot drifts which prevented opening any of the doors. This is the worst snowstorm since we acquired the PLAS property 20 years ago. We also had two power outages and a downed phone line.
Until one tries to walk a few feet in snow this deep, it is hard to imagine the difficulty and energy it takes and the hardship on all the animals as well as the two founders. We were fortunate to have one incredible volunteer who agreed to stay in our cabin and helped shovel snow day after day during the storms. Without his assistance, many of our beloved animals would have perished.
All we could do was to carve out narrow pathways with shovels from the house to the barn and a few nearby enclosures. This took incredible energy and time in the bitter cold. All our equipment including a 4-wheel drive truck, tractor and ATV were useless in the deep snow. It took hours of constant shoveling to even forge a path to the barn.
During off and on snowfall, we were slowly able to feed the cows and burros after they had gone without food for 2 days. Each day, the shoveling continued which was a very slow process. The turkeys had to wait for 5 days, the pigs 2 days, sheep 2 days and the rabbit enclosure was the farthest away and finally reached after 6 days. We were heartbroken and believed we would find many dead rabbits and roosters as they had no access to water or feed under 3 feet of snow. We were shocked to find, after this length of time shoveling and making paths, that they were all still alive as well as the two roosters that live in their enclosure.
As our supplies and feed dwindled, it became an emergency situation. We began calling heavy equipment operators to plow so we could get out. To our surprise, many turned us down stating the snow was too deep for their equipment. Others never called back. We managed to find one operator who said he would plow a portion of our road from our entry gate to the gate to the pasture for $500 although he doubled the bill after he saw the conditions. He was our only hope and on February 14 he plowed and we were able to get out after 8 days. While we were able to get down Eggloff Road, the conditions were still precarious and driving back up the hill to our property, the 4-wheel drive truck became stuck again by our barn and remained for another 2 days until we could once again use it.
We are hoping for no new snow and are assessing the damage. The weight of the snow has damaged our deck, the large overhead rabbit feeders, blew off the top cap of our chimney, tore down a gutter, removed our Dish access and, for the first time, we have roof leaks in our house. We won’t know of any other damages until the snow is completely gone. The increase in feed bills has been enormous due to the 15 degree weather at night and temperatures below freezing during the day.
We thank everyone who supports us and especially Peninsula Friends of Animals who called us numerous times and even sent a volunteer to pick up our 2 Pyrenees who had escaped by climbing over the gate which was buried in snow. Thankfully, the dogs were found at the local Humane Society and the PFOA volunteer brought them up to the beginning of Eggloff and Lost Mountain Highway where we met them with leashes and walked once again the long distance up the big hill onto our property.
What we sadly learned and experienced with this recent snowfall is that there is a lack of concern and willingness to help farm animals in an emergency situation compared to companion animals. It is difficult to tell if this is a fluke storm, but we will certainly do what we can to prepare for next year. Even if we had been able to get into town, there was no rock salt or other provisions that we will stockpile for next winter.
We woke up to a good 3-4 inches of new snow this morning! How this will affect our ability to get to town for supplies is unknown at this time as anyone who has visited the sanctuary is aware of the deep ravine on one side of the road once leaving the highway and entering Eggloff Road to the sanctuary.
On Friday, February 22, at 10 a.m., it became extremely windy and, within minutes, started to snow. I immediately left for town to stock up on feed as there was no way of telling how long or how much snow would fall. I returned quickly within one hour, and couldn’t make it all the way back to our property. I had to park the truck. All supplies had to be unloaded into the ATV and the snow fortunately stopped about 1:00 p.m. with accumulations of 4 inches.
On Saturday, February 23, it was sunny with no snow and it was possible to go to Safeway and Costco and load up as snowfall was predicted Sunday night and Monday morning. We hope these weather models are wrong.
All feed and groceries still have to be carried in small bags through narrow carved out paths in the snow to the house and other enclosures.