Notes From a First Time Front Yard Farmer: Winter Showed Up, and Brought the Wind

I know I shouldn’t complain.  For Alaska, this winter has been very mild.  Temperatures above freezing, not a lot of snow, and hardly any windstorms.  I was starting to think we were going to get off easy, and then January and February rolled around.  There’s a reason people go outside to Hawaii, California, or any else warm, at this time of year.  The sun’s not back yet, and this is when Mother Nature is going to throw the book at us.  She’s making up for going easy on us at the beginning of winter, we’ve got some snow now, temperatures have been in the single digits or below, and today the wind showed up.

When I say the wind, I’m not talking about a light breeze.  I live in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, and the wind blows a lot of the time.  What I am talking about is WIND.  Today it is blowing with gusts of up to 25 mph, by no means the windiest it has ever been here.  It’s just that we haven’t really had too many windstorms this year, so I wasn’t mentally prepared for it.  This wind blows hard, and makes 7 above Fahrenheit feel like -10 or colder.  Small rocks and ice crystals fly up to whack you in the face, making me feel like I should wear safety glasses.  You feel like you are getting sandblasted with little bits of frozen debris.  Anything that can blow away, has.  When I took my kids to school today, a big gust almost blew my youngest son off the sidewalk.  Luckily, I was standing next to him to reach out and grab his arm and hustle him into the building.

The chickens and ducks aren’t too fond of the wind either.  When it’s like this the chickens poke their heads out of the coop, and look like they are considering staying in.  Their food and water is outside, though, so they don’t hang out inside for too long.  They eat, peck around for some corn, and then look for the least windy spot in the chicken yard, where they all huddle together.  The ducks will come out for water, and then they usually head back into their duck house.

I really wanted to stay inside this morning, instead of going out and taking care of the flock.  But, I noticed out the back window that the blowing wind had unplugged the heat for the chickens water, and it was a giant block of ice, everyone wanted out, and the ducks wanted their outside water for a drink and morning bath.  Time to fill up the 5 gallon bucket, put on some layers, and head out.  On days like today, it is best to have a sense of humor.  I couldn’t help but sing the Led Zeppelin tune, “Immigrant Song” to myself as I headed out.

“We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.
The hammer of the gods
Will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying:
Valhalla, I am coming!
On we sweep with threshing oar,
Our only goal will be the western shore.”

I thought it was funny when I let the ducks out, they were quacking joyously, and stretching their wings, when a wind gust picked up one of the little ducks, giving it some serious lift.  It looked the duck was going to go sailing over the fence, but, luckily, she touched down before that happened.

Extra greens, and worms, and a bit of butter for everyone, and time for me to head back in to warm up.

Fleur and the Ladies Huddled Together

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