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Winter advice for people new to winter

 
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This is the time of year, white flakes fall to the ground where I live on the West Coast of Canada.  By white flakes, I mean...



We call it "Victoria Snow" after the capital city which is famous for avoiding the meteorological condition known as winter.

This year we have a totally different kind of snow.



I'm having a little bit of trouble dealing with some of the realities of snow once it gets over 2 feet of accumulation.  Maybe some of you can advise me what to do?


  • There is snow coming in the top of my boots when I walk, what do I do to stop this?
  • I've been shovelling the driveway with each snow, but now the snow piles are getting uncomfortably tall.  Where do I put the snow?
  • at what point is it pointless to clear the driveway?  When it's coming down faster than I can shovel?


  • What else do I need to know about snow?  

     
    steward
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    Snow over the boots have at least three fixes.  First, you could get taller winter boots.  Secondly, you could get gaiters and put them on (bonus use for hiking in the mountains).  Lastly, if your boots are somewhat tall, you could pull your pants (and/or rain pants) down over your boots and maybe rubber band them in place.

    Tall snow piles are a bit hard to deal with once they're there.  Best plan is to fling the snow farther from the driveway than needed early in the winter so you have room later on.  My approach is to pile it wide (some flinging) early in the winter and when the pile closest to the driveway is almost annoyingly high, start being more diligent to fling the snow past it onto the yard.

    I rarely clear snow while it's coming down.  Unless we're getting more than a foot and it's heavy.  Even then I'd probably wait until its done.

    Other things to know about snow:
  • You can always just drive on it and let it pack down.  That only bites you if it keeps snowing a lot more before it melts.
  • The heaviest snow is the stuff the plow leaves at the end of the driveway
  • Drive on snow/ice as if your grandma is in the passenger seat with a pot of chili on her lap that's full to the brim
  • If it's a "30+ year snowfall" consider raking it off of your roof
  • Make sure your furnace intake and outlet pipes aren't blocked by the snow
  • Shovel out the mailbox for the postal worker to access
  • If you have a storm drain at the street, keep it clear for the spring thaw


  • Good luck!
     
    gardener
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    I put my pant legs over/around my snow boots rather than tuck them in. Yes, the cuffs will get snowy and maybe wet, but it's better than snow down your boots.

    Once you have tall snowbanks near your driveway, there's not much to do about them unless you can chop and shovel some farther away. If there is any reasonable likelihood of snow accumulation, it is wise to start by throwing the snow as far as you can early; then it is easier to clear later snowfalls.

    Depending on your driveway slope and the likely weather coming up, it may be safe to just drive on the snow and pack it down. If you have to drive uphill to get out, that may not be a wise option. Likewise, if you expect thaws and cold snaps, ridges of mush that freeze can be dangerous. Packed snow that starts melting can suddenly put your wheels off the packed tracks and into slush while your car bottoms on the packed ridge, so you have to weigh the possibilities when considering leaving some snow.There are times when the better part of valor is to just shovel a spot off the road for your car, and let the rest of the driveway drift in with just a footpath cleared. Welcome to (real) winter!
     
    pollinator
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    Old sweater sleeves make great gaiters.  Cuff gets pulled up the leg, arm goes down over the boot.
     
    garden master
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    Mike Jay wrote:

  • Drive on snow/ice as if your grandma is in the passenger seat with a pot of chili on her lap that's full to the brim



  • Noted!
     
    pollinator
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    r ranson, what do you feel will be the duration of the snow piles this year?  Shouldn't that part of Vancouver Island be back to melting/raining temperature pretty soon?  If it's not likely to last for more than a week or two, I would just do the minimum to get around to your animals and make sure that you have road access and wait for it to melt.  Outside of Fargo, we don't have that luxury.....but the luxury we do have are snowblowers and HIGH WINDS!  So it's rather easy to make the snow airborne with a walk-behind or tractor-mount snow blower and get it away from the driveway in order to minimize future drifting.

    Gaiters.....back in the ski-bum days in Utah, and challenging each other to come up with the cheapest set of gear, a friend showed that you can take a standard plastic grocery store bag [we debated whether or not Smith's Food King were better than Albertson's..... ;-)  ] and cut the bottom out of it.  Now turn the bag upside down (not inside out), place your foot/boot through the cut hole and loop the two 'handle straps' under your boot.  Then collect and wrap the bag up around past your ankle and calf, much like wrapping decorative paper around a flower arrangement.  Finally, with one hand holding the top of the bag around your upper calf area, circle it with duct tape!   I'm not kidding.....instant gaiters!  They won't endure like the real deal, but if you are in a pinch it works to keep your socks and feet dry.

    As for "What else do I need to know about snow?"....

    .....some chickens actually like it!  :-)    (courtesy of the St. Paul Winter Carnival)
    SnowChuk.JPG
    [Thumbnail for SnowChuk.JPG]
     
    pollinator
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    Some of this is summer work which helps winter living.

    When possible, I shovel early and often as the easier option.

    Get multiple shovels/brooms and leave them where they will be needed.

    When there are gates which need to be used after a snow, it helps a LOT if you built the gate light and use pintle/gudgeon hinges which allow you to simply lift the gate off the hinges to pass through. And presumably then shovel out the gate area and reinstall the gate on the hinges. When installing pintle/gudgeon hinges, cut one of the pintles shorter than the other (apparently this no-brainer hasn't entered the commercial market yet). You will send me money for this little note the first time you try to place the gate on its gudgeons!!!

    Smooth hard paths shovel a LOT easier than the other kind. I find push shovels easier to use than the lift-throw kind, but that may be because most paths I shovel are flat and hard.

    Although you will drive slowly, try not to stop, ever. Use careful judgment, but consider Stop signs as Yield signs; keep your momentum going because getting started (after a full stop) often spins the wheels and spinning wheels can get you  into trouble. In winter, do not ever accelerate - instead you just "get up to speed". When driving on especially slippery stuff with an automatic transmission, put it into a gear where it will NOT shift. This used to be 2nd, but now with 5 and 6 gears, maybe it's something else. You want to avoid the transmission shifting itself as you gain speed because it will "kick" the drive wheels a little and that's often enough to break their adhesion and put you into a skid; same thing happens when slowing down, if it downshifts. Expect to get used to skids; learn how to steer in a skid. You will skid often on snow and you don't want to freeze or panic or slam on the breaks - bad juju.  If the vehicle is rear wheel drive, put 200+# over or behind the rear axle and leave it there all winter- especially if it's a pick-up. Lots of weight on the drive axle is your friend. There may be times when it's snowing  that driving without the heat and with the windows open helps. When it's very cold the defroster can't heat the windshield sufficiently to actually melt the snow so wipers can clear it (just enough to make an opaque mess). Keeping the windshield cold can allow snow to blow off and ventilating the cab can keep your breath from fogging the windows. Brrr!! Tough call; better to keep the heater/defroster in good repair.

    A buddy just sent me a potion to use to clear ice from windows in the morning. Haven't tried it yet; maybe it would work. But you need a good squeegie and/or some dry rags to go along with it.    2::1    achohol::water    in a spray bottle. Rubbing alcohol should work but some brands contain oils which may streak the window. Credit cards work in a pinch to get ice off windows; but it trashes the card. Don't run LED headlights in winter - not enough heat to keep the lights clear of heavy wet snow when driving. I can testify that LED headlights can get totally covered - zero light. Some people leave their wipers lifted off the window when they expect snow; saves a little trouble in the morning. Leave a kitchen broom in the car all winter (long reach, big brush makes clearing a lot easier); also a snow shovel if you have the space and can spare the shovel (you don't only get stuck at home...).

    Enjoy. It's beautiful out there!!!


    Rufus

     
    pollinator
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    The plowed snow at the end by the street doesn't tend to get any easier to shovel with time, especially if it is very cold weather.
    Don't wait for it to set up like concrete...but...
    Don't rush out there to shovel it either (*except of course if you need to to go out/come home...), the plow might will bring you more.

    Ditto on shoveling it as far away as you are able.

    If you have the choice, keep the piles to the south short to get full sunlight for melting. (especially for narrow paths)
     
    steward
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    I really like a standard square-nosed shovel for dealing with lots of snow or with heavy snow. They are only about  8" wide, which makes them easy to handle. I can use one of them all day long, rather than getting tired out in a few minutes using an 18" to 20" wide show shovel. Sure, it takes longer, but the work is lighter.

     
    r ranson
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    what are car chains and would they be a better option than winter tires?

    Seems a shame to buy special tires if we only get winter one or two weeks every other year....
     
    Mike Jay Haasl
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    Car chains are things you wrap around your tires (drive wheels for sure) to drive on really bad roads.  They aren't intended for a bit of ice and snow, they're for driving through bad stuff at moderate to slow speeds.  They are probably the way to go for people in your area.  As a bonus, keep them in the trunk for winter trips over mountain passes.  But be sure to know how to put them on before you need them!  I haven't used them myself so someone with more experience can certainly add to my musings.

    Winter tires can be studded (awesome) or just snow tires (MUCH better than all season tires).  My state doesn't allow for studded tires due to road damage.  Good snow tires are well worth the money if you have winter for 2+ months a year.  They can handle full highway speed and grip much better on snow and ice.  They wear down fast when it gets above 40 degrees so people switch them out to summer tires in spring.  When I get a new set of summer tires I always think "Hmm, I bet with new tread, these will be good enough for one winter.  Then I skid through my first stop sign and put on the winter tires."
     
    Joseph Lofthouse
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    Chains are really annoying. They vibrate like crazy. You can only go about 25 mph. Whenever I put them on, it's blowing, frigid, and snowing. I basically have to lay in the snow to put them on, and take them off. I love them!

    There are two types. Traditional "chains" which are made of chain links. They take a bit more skill to put on, and I like to adjust them after driving a short distance. The sound of them must bring fond memories to me, cause I find them soothing. Sometimes the links can freeze while driving, so can be a pain to take off. As if laying on a snowy wet road isn't pain enough.

    The newer type is made from coiled wire. They are held on with plastic clips and rubber bands. They are easier to install and self-adjusting. I think of them as the planned obsolescence option.

    The best time to put chains on, is before you need them! Really sucks to put them on after I'm already stuck.

     
    Joseph Lofthouse
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    My third post to this thread, and I'm finally getting around to the thing I think is most important about dealing with winter. Just stay home!
     
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    Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
    Chains are really annoying. They vibrate like crazy. You can only go about 25 mph. Whenever I put them on, it's blowing, frigid, and snowing. I basically have to lay in the snow to put them on, and take them off. I love them!



    Indeed, some 4x4 car with good winter tires is much better then chains. Though if the snow gets deeper then the cars ground clearance, snow gets stuck below and you are finished.
     
    pollinator
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    My family has only ever had all-season tires, and we lived in Winnipeg for 25+ years, and winter driving included making long winter trips through the Dakotas around Christmas time.

    Only once could we have really used chains, while trying to get up a snowy hill in Northern Ontario. (We ended up having to create ourselves a long detour, just couldn't get the grip to get up the incline.) In general, if conditions were bad enough to require serious grip, it was also blizzarding and visibility was a bigger problem.

    Now that I live in the Okanagan, I still only have all-season tires, I just don't drive over mountain passes when there is a lot of recent snow.

    I would say that unless you have to regularly drive up a fairly steep incline in the winter, you shouldn't need chains. I believe the law in B.C. says that as long as your tires say "M + S" for snow and mud on them, then you're good to go on most roads all year.

     
    Joseph Lofthouse
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    Mike Homest wrote:Indeed, some 4x4 car with good winter tires is much better then chains. Though if the snow gets deeper then the cars ground clearance, snow gets stuck below and you are finished.



    In my world, chains are only installed on a 4X4 truck, with good studded winter tires, and high clearance....
     
    John Weiland
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    r ranson wrote:what are car chains and would they be a better option than winter tires?

    Seems a shame to buy special tires if we only get winter one or two weeks every other year....



    What kind of vehicle(s) do you have?
     
    r ranson
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    John Weiland wrote:

    r ranson wrote:what are car chains and would they be a better option than winter tires?

    Seems a shame to buy special tires if we only get winter one or two weeks every other year....



    What kind of vehicle(s) do you have?



    Front-wheel drive van.  
     
    John Weiland
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    r ranson wrote:

    John Weiland wrote:

    r ranson wrote:what are car chains and would they be a better option than winter tires?

    Seems a shame to buy special tires if we only get winter one or two weeks every other year....



    What kind of vehicle(s) do you have?



    Front-wheel drive van.  



    That would be a tough rig for driving in deep snow and may be problematic on some icy inclines.  Overall, front-wheel drive is more useful than rear-wheel drive on snow-covered roads.  Between my wife and I, only I have an all-wheel drive car for everyday use and it's pretty good.  Wife drives selectable 4X4 Xterra (Nissan) and the pick-up truck is selectable 4X4 as well (rear-wheel drive only when not using 4 wheel drive).  The 4 wheel drive option really can get you out of situations in deep snow and mud that all-wheel drive can't, but none of them will be of much good when your axles are embedded in mud or snow.  In all cases, and only deployed judiciously, axle-burying hard snow drifts that are not too long can be battered through if you are able to get a run at the drift.  A large majority of local drivers need to do this when they arrive home to find the driveway blocked by either a drift that formed during the work-day or a passing snowplow whose road-clearing efforts have filled in the top of the driveway.

    I've put tire chains on car and tractor tires but don't relish doing it much....

    **If** you are in the market down the road for a new rig and wish to have some security in this department for future winters, you may wish to look into one of the SUV (more common) or van (less common) options that have selectable 4X4.  Hope this may help in some regard.

    Also see the following for a discussion on the all-wheel drive versus 4 wheel drive comparison: https://www.edmunds.com/car-buying/awd-vs-4wd-whats-the-difference-and-which-to-choose.html
     
    Mike Jay Haasl
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    If a front wheel drive van or car was a barrier to driving in the winter, about 1/3rd of the population of WI would never be able to leave their house.  Many of those people get by without chains or dedicated winter tires.  So you can certainly manage if you're careful.  If you absolutely need to drive your van through 6" of snow (on the road) the chains would be worth putting on.  If the snow/shush is near the ground clearance of your vehicle, you're risking it.  If there's some ice or packed snow, just drive carefully (grandma holding soup).
     
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    We’ve had pairs of these Neos waterproof overshoes for years and have found them very useful. Easy to take on and off, adjustable straps to get a tight fit that won’t slip or let snow in. I like to wear double soled leather mocs with thick socks, extremely comfortable.

    When shoveling wet, heavy snow make sure to not overload your shovel and take plenty of breaks.
     
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    How about a shout out for Yaktrax? When walking on ice, bites to keep you from slipping. Easily slipped on over any shoe or boot, held in pace by Velcro. (I do not own stock, just grateful to discover them).

    A strong folding shovel and a bag of sand in the trunk to shovel out.

    A space blanket. Food and water.  First aid supplies.

    An ergonomically correct shovel. A snow blower or Bobcat for bigger jobs.

    Before a snow, cover your vehicle with a tarp for easy clean off.

    Hypodermic needle and a high proof alcohol in case of frozen locks.

    May all be safe as they travel.                                                                                                                                                                                              


     
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    Mike Jay wrote:If a front wheel drive van or car was a barrier to driving in the winter, about 1/3rd of the population of WI would never be able to leave their house.  Many of those people get by without chains or dedicated winter tires.  So you can certainly manage if you're careful.  If you absolutely need to drive your van through 6" of snow (on the road) the chains would be worth putting on.  If the snow/shush is near the ground clearance of your vehicle, you're risking it.  If there's some ice or packed snow, just drive carefully (grandma holding soup).


    This described my life in mid-New England as well. I used all season tires, we probably had two-three large snowstorms (a yard of snow) every year. My car was a small front-wheel saturn and I only took it out when the roads were cleared-- when things were messy my husband and I carpooled in his car, a Frontier with optional 4x4. That thing was a beast, we had fun taking it out in the blizzards.
    Grandma holding soup is good. I was taught to only do one thing at a time. Don't try to slow and turn at the same time, or Grandma will need a bath. Nice and slow, and ignore those crazy fools who go speeding along- you're likely to see them wrapped around a pole a few miles down the road.
     
    pollinator
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    Actually, there are different types of speedster in the winter.

    I find that there are the ones you describe, Tereza. You see them all the time, and notice them quickly when the snow has fallen enough to accumulate. They are the ones that think that all-weather includes ice storms and severe snow events, the ones that can't get up tiny little inclines, and can't stop at a stop sign from 20 km/hr. Those you find scattered to either side of roads, wrapped around poles, and rested up against concrete barriers and snow embankments.

    Then there are the ones who properly prepare for driving in the winter, complete with winter tires rated to -40 C or better (that happens to be -40 degrees F, for you south of the border), who barely notice the existence of the white shit and slippery stuff that others find so impassible. You'll find us brazenly using the lightly snow-covered left-hand lane when all others are crawling at half the speed limit.

    Oh, and we're not necessarily speeding, strictly speaking. We're just driving according to the conditions. It's just that when you retain adequate traction for control, the conditions don't affect you as much as with improper equipment.

    I used to flirt with being in the first group, and then I found my much better half, whose Christmas traditions include visiting family eight hours north of where we live in Toronto. Where you can usually get away with careful, slow driving on all-weathers if you live in, and rarely leave, the city, you're pretty much not going anywhere north of Hwy 7 here without snows on. Speeding transport trucks, blizzards, and moose lying in the middle of the highway aren't things you mess around with.

    -CK
     
    r ranson
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    How do I sharpen the edge on the plastic snow shovel?
     
    Tereza Okava
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    Chris Kott wrote:we're not necessarily speeding, strictly speaking.


    haha! fair enough! you all with the gear and the knowledge to bring your car to a stop without sliding into me, more power to you. It`s the "My 4 wheel drive makes up for my lack of driving skills" crowd that I have more issues with.
     
    Chris Kott
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    Well first, you remove the plastic shovel blade and carefully place it aside. Spend time brainstorming other uses for this otherwise useless bit of plastic.

    Then go buy yourself a metal shovel blade, which sharpens up quite easily.

    In all seriousness, if the snow isn't given the chance to freeze solid, a plastic shovel blade should do okay. Just don't expect to be able to sharpen it, or for it to be of any use at chipping away ice.

    I see many people using a long-handled tool with what looks like an edging tool to break up ice. The loose chunks will shovel easily enough, just like loosening packed earth with a pick or mattock before digging it out and removing it with a shovel.

    -CK
     
    Mike Jay Haasl
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    I think you can whittle off the dinged up parts of a plastic shovel with a razor knife.  Just cut off the bad bits at an angle that leaves a pointy edge and it should help a bit.
     
    Kenneth Elwell
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    BEFORE IT SNOWS...

    1.) Know where your shovels, sand, ice melt/salt, snow brush/ice scraper are... snowblower fuel, shear pins, belts...
    (BTW, it's nice to have the snow brush with you outside the car rather than having to use your hands to clear the snow and get the brush out from inside the car...)

    2.) Police your yard, driveway and walkways for things... things you don't want to lose in the snow, and more importantly, things that you don't want to find in the snow while you are clearing it away!!
    Things such as:
    ad hoc power supply to... livestock waterers, engine block heaters, chicken lights or heat lamps.
    sticks and stones... can break a snowblower's bones, or at least sideline you while you clear the jam or replace shear pins, and you will say some hurtful words...

    3.) Consider parking your car near the end of your driveway, especially if you need to leave early for work or an appointment (or won't be clearing the whole driveway until the end of a long storm).
    You'll only need to shovel just enough to get the car out. This also works for coming home... just get the car off the road, and shovel the rest in the morning...(also limits the packing of snow under tires)



     
    pollinator
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    I have lived in Alaska and various parts of the Midwest.

    Others have covered things pretty well, but here are a few tips:

    I like a grain scoop as a snow shovel. They are very sturdy and able to move large amounts of snow fast.

    A little no-stick cooking spray on the shovel helps the snow to slide right off - I use an oil spray with no added silicon — there are some cooking sprays that contain ingredients I don’t want on the farm (and some people EAT that 💩). So this is a handy labor saving tip, but read the ingredients list before buying, because while you wouldn’t eat it, you may not want it in your property. Some aren’t nearly so vile.

    Cat litter is helpful for getting a car unstuck. It is also helpful for making slick walkways less slick. I keep plain old clay litter around for that purpose - some in the mud room for using around the outside entryway and some in the vehicles.

    Boot spikes are wonderful to help keep you upright when walking in icy conditions. The less aggressive Yak-Trax are probably OK for milder conditions.

    In Alaska, I got studded snow tires for winter as did most of the folks I knew. In the Midwest where I live now I just drive slower and use 4-wheel drive, as roads are MUCH better cleared here (and studded tires aren’t legal).

    Gaiters are a must. Also helpful clothing in windy weather: balaclavas.

    If your feet get cold, put on a hat. Seriously. You lose more body heat out of your head than any other body part. Insulate that and your whole body warms up.
     
    Chris Kott
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    Scarves are great, too, as long as they don't get caught up in machinery.

    -CK
     
    Vera Stewart
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    Chris Kott wrote:Scarves are great, too, as long as they don't get caught up in machinery.

    -CK



    Unless you wear glasses, in which case scarves are a horrible joke played on you by well-meaning grandmas.
     
    master steward
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    Tuck scarves into coats! It took me like 20 years to figure that out. Before that, my scarves were always in the way and coated in snow.

    As for chains, we found them invaluable this past week. Like Raven, we had a lot more snow than we usually do for our area. We have a small HOnda Fit, which is generally a fantastic car for driving in snow and ice as long as it's not deeper than 8 inches on the road. We laugh at SUVs, because invariably those are the majority of cars on the side of the road. I don't know if it's because they are top-heavy, or because people think it will compinsate for their lack of snow-driving ability. But, anyways, they're always on the side of the road.

    My husband has been able to get to and from work in snow, compact snow, ice and slush this whole week. He puts the chains on before he leaves, and takes them off when he gets to the snow-plowed freeway. You cannot drive on non-snowy roads with chains. You cannot go faster than 25 miles with chains. But, if there's slick snow on the road, chains are a savior. Learn how to put the chains on before you embark. It took my husband 45 minutes and reading instructions and watching youtube videos to put them on the first time. Now it takes him less than 10 minutes.  I think chains are a great option for our area and climate!
     
    pollinator
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    This is a funny thread. I just had a day off because of the weather. We can get snow as early as October and it usually stays until mid-April. That's 7 months! It's hard for me to imagine being new to winter.

    The outside world becomes a freezer so take care of your containers or they might break. Some plastics become brittle in the cold.

    It takes a long time for warm water to freeze over. I gave warm water to my chickens, I don't know if it's good or bad for them but I figured warm is better than none. We like hot beverages after a day outside in the cold maybe it's the same with chickens?

    Don't lick metal that's been outside. If you do, send me a picture :)
    Don't grab metal that's been outside with wet hands.

    There was mention of cat litter if you get stuck with your car. Ashes also works.
    If you get stuck don't put the pedal to the floor to try to get out. Alternate gently between drive and reverse and use momentum. Don't know how to explain this.

    On the road sudden changes will get you in the ditch, or worse. I like to test the roads before I get out. I get to a moderate speed and slam the brakes and see how the car reacts. Same with acceleration.

    I've never used chains but can't live without studs.

    Driving a rear-wheel drive on slippery roads is an art!

    In a front-wheeler if you need to turn quickly then don't accelerate. If you lose traction you'll go straight.

    If you take to the roads during bad weather take warm clothes with you. Bring a shovel if there is room. There is a story about a foreigner that got stuck on the plains during a storm. He was dressed in city clothes and had to walk to the nearest house. He lost all his toes.

    Get some sunglasses, a bright sun on fresh snow is hard on the eyes.

    I like snow but normal people complain about it all the time.  There's all kinds of snow, fluffy, sticky, crusty, grainy. They all shovel differently. Plastic shovels work best for light snow. Metal shovels work best for heavy or crusty snow.

    There was also mention of greasing a shovel. I use furniture wax. There is nothing more frustrating than shoveling snow that sticks to your shovel. I only use wax on my aluminum shovel and for sticky snow only. Waxing that shovel for fluffy snow makes it useless as the snow just slips off before I can throw it.

    Use your knee as a fulcrum when throwing heavy snow. This is difficult to explain, you pivot the handle on your knee to start the swing. Be attentive to your body, especially your back.

    For large areas get a snow scoop and make ramps instead of piles.  Remember that all that snow will turn to water.

    Stay dry. Don't let yourself sweat. If you're wet you'll get cold. Unless you wear wool I suppose.

    Packed snow turns to ice and takes longer to melt. If you make thick trails they will still be there when all the rest has melted away. That's especially important for dirt driveways. You will get ruts and erosion.

    Fun :)


    snow.jpg
    [Thumbnail for snow.jpg]
    Snow :)
     
    Mike Homest
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    I highly recommend snowshoes as seen in the last post, we have some like these for about ten years and they have been a live safer more then once.

    https://www.decathlon.co.uk/sh100-snowshoes-id_8317573.html

    Try walking through snow >40 cm without.

    If you dislike putting salt on some cleared walkpath to keep it from icing, you can use wood ash or/and sand. Though wood ash alone works pretty well, and is usually available if you heat with wood right when it snows...

    Also if you are unsure if the water will freeze in its tubes (not being deep enough or partially not at all under the earth), you can leave it slightly running over night, running water does need much deeper frost to freeze. Be sure the water casn't get blocked getting out.
     
    Glenn Herbert
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    "Use your knee as a fulcrum" - this is excellent advice that can save your back, and what I have done for many years. With the shovel full of snow, balance the handle on your knee, push down on the grip end and pull up on the blade end, aiming where you want the snow to go. This puts the work onto your arm muscles, and part of it is pushing instead of pulling, so the muscles' work alternates. Your bent back is not straining.
     
    John Weiland
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    Valentine's Day addition--- The Gambler ran out of luck!

    No snow for a few days, but the last one left a pretty light covering of new snow across the region.  Then last night, against the run of the forecast, the winds picked up and blew most of the night and early morning.  I assessed the driveway and wagered that (a) the drifting was no more than 1.5 ft in height and that (b) it was located higher on the driveway which would have hard surface underneath in contrast to some of the pot-holes farther down.  What I was gambling with was the fact that (c) that drift was a good 25 ft in length to make up for it's lack of depth and (d) the placement near the county road would mean that the snow *in* that drift was the result of a driving wind for more than 12 hr.  Should I stay with the AWD small SUV and risk getting hung up or go with the truck (higher clearance 4X4)?

    I decided to take the bet......and lost!  Midway through the drift, the axles bottomed out and I was stuck fast.  As the Valentine's Day cherub chuckled from a nearby tree, I proceeded to dig out the wheels and under the carriage to removed the snow holding up the vehicle.  Which is not much fun when the snow is that packed and heavy.....and even less fun when doing so at the most exposed part of the property with a 25 mph wind driving a 5 degree F morning temp into a rather 'bracing' windchill.

    It took around 20 minutes of digging, moving a bit, digging some more, moving a bit more to finally back the vehicle down onto more solid driveway.  The process, however, was an education since I'm new to modern AWD vehicles that have both 4WD option and "traction control".  What baffled me was that the old school "rock the vehicle" between 'drive' and 'reverse' was not working!  Occasional stomps on the acceleration yielded.....NO acceleration.  What was going on??!  Later at work as I relayed this to colleagues, I got the eyeroll as they clued me in as to the need to disable the 'traction control' in such situations in order to maximize power transmission to the wheels.  Who woulda thunk!.....

    Anyway, at the end of the day, the drive was completely filled in.  So the car awaits by the side of the road and my Valentine's Evening highlight will be a date with John Deere as we blow out the drift under the stars.  I didn't see the cherub in the trees when I arrived home.....I think he got frostbite and tumbled into the snowbank below!  ;-)
     
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    Great topic!!! I've lived in Minnesota virtually all my life, & have seen all sorts of winters, driven through them, moved snow in them, etc & so forth. However, a couple years ago, in anticipation of my retirement, my wife & I moved into a double wide manufactured home on a lake. The second winter we were here the water line froze. The man that came out to take care of it for me put up with me following him around out in the cold & asking all sorts of questions, intending to get an education as well as a thawed water line.

    What we had is an area under the house where the water line came out of the ground inside of a piece of 4"-6" PVC pipe with a heat tape wrapped around it. No insulation, no way of keeping track of the temp or whether it was really working. We figured that the heat tape had died, leaving the water line to freeze. I bought some fiberglass insulation & plastic sheeting, wrapped the former in the latter, and crawled under the house to encase the water line in the bundles of insulation. Then I bought two milk house heaters, one of which is still in the box, and put the other one inside the water line nest I had created. Happily there was already an electrical outlet down there. That got us through that winter with water flowing.

    When spring came, I pulled out the insulation bundles and the heater, got some green treated 2X4's & 2X6's, along with some green treated 3/8" plywood, stiff foam insulation, construction adhesive & a few cans of The Right Stuff spray insulation, and got to work. I created a wall all the way around where the water line came out of the ground over to where it went up into the house. This space also enclosed a sump pump that had been put in place to pump ground water out of the area. I trashed that & my wife & I dug in a sump pit outside of the wall of the house for a sump pit, rock, etc. The wall was then insulated, spray foam sprayed in all the nooks & crannies, and when last fall came around, two trouble lights were plugged into the electric strip in the space. One of them was plugged into a Woods # 32555WD remote control outlet. I also installed a temp sensor for an electronic temp display unit, and a month ago when it got down to -35, I put the milk house heater in the space with a remote control outlet for that too.

    I am currently sitting on the edge of my bed, typing this reply, looking at the temp display, which shows 10 degrees F outside, 55 degrees F in the water line nest, and 66 degrees F in my room. Two trouble lights with a 75 watt bulb in each are currently on in the nest, as earlier last night the nest temp fell to 40 degrees F. I like to keep it between 45 & 55 or higher. When it got down to -35 earlier, I woke up at one point & saw on the temp display that the nest was at +101 degrees F, so I went out & adjusted the temp control on the heater. It is a 1500/750 watt heater, set currently on 750 watts with the temp control a bit under halfway to the max setting. So far I have only used the heater if it gets below -10 degrees F or so. It is not currently on. So for the cost of running two 75 watt light bulbs I have the nest at 55 degrees F with an outside temp of 10 degrees F. If I want to know for sure if a light is on or the heater is working, I can open up the nest & see that at a glance, unlike a heat tape.

    When it gets really windy, I can tell by the temp display, so come spring I need to find & plug some air holes. I think that's coming up under the bottom of the siding, just in case you run into it. But all in all it's been big fun, my first big project after retirement, all controlled on the top of my coffee table by a couple small remotes & a temp display!!! Obviously one could set the same sort of thing up with a thermostat. Others have cut a hole from the house into the same kind of space & counted on the house heat to keep it warm. I like my setup because it's pretty precise, and I know the temp in the nest at a glance. Um, I still can't wait for spring................


     
    pollinator
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    Jan White wrote:Old sweater sleeves make great gaiters.  Cuff gets pulled up the leg, arm goes down over the boot.



    Great suggestion. You can get a cheap old baggy jacket at Goodwill and cut the sleeves too. Some will even have a cuff that will slip over the ankle. Use a shoelace to keep it tight if need be. This is not a beauty contest ;-)
    Lots of good suggestions in this thread. If you are not a survivalist, you might want to become one and have a lot of canned goods from your garden to last you.
    My hubby has the skid steer that he uses for the long driveway, and I must say, once the snow plow has gone through and it ices over, if it were not for the skid steer, we'd be blocked until melt! My chickens, through, still need fresh water,[brought in 2, half filled homer buckets on a sled]  and the coop is a good 75 ft away. It has to be cleared!
    Because I'm past 70, I don't see myself doing that much shoveling. Done my share: Been there, done that. Nobody cheered. If I had to now, I'd do it in small increments, like an hour here, and hour there. But I now have a walk behind battery operated Snow Joe snowblower that surprised me with how long it could last [about 2 hours on "fast"] and how far it could throw snow [25 ft]. The snow was not real fluffy either! It has two 40 Volt lithium batteries. Metal blades, metal scoop... The advantage of a snow blower is that it actually throws the snow far off the path and up over embankments. [Don't aim it at any windows, just in case]. I discovered also that when the battery gets low, you can *either* throw snow *or* limp back home with the drive engaged, so you won't get stranded. Nice feature. (Just so you know, I'm only a satisfied customer and do not get paid for this 'plug'). As soon as you are done, remove the battery and recharge. Do not leave any lithium battery outside, of course. Even my hubby who always wants  the biggest, the strongest motor he can get is impressed with  my "little snowblower". It takes a lot to impress him.
    There is a crank that rotates where you want the snow thrown, so you will find yourself re-orienting the throw to suit you. The disadvantage is that past 15 inches of snow, you are pretty much out of your depth [Ha,ha]. When you know that you are in for a big snowfall, start clearing at mid fall if you can: You will make 2 passes, but each time, you will only have one half of the snow to remove. Yep, you'll be cold, but your sweetie will have hot chocolate ready, right?
    That leaves the snow that falls from a roof and packs. Hopefully, you have a home where the snow over the garage does not fall and block your way out. But if you do, I'd recommend a big, wide push shovel. Not the dinky plastic crap shovels with one handle they sell in big box stores. No. I mean the big metal scoop with the big stirrup handle that reaches both ends of the scoop. Unfortunately, they are getting rarer than hen's teeth. If I did not have one, I'd go to a metal fabricator to get one made! Here is the only one I found, and it is well worth the $80!
    https://scoopsandrakes.com/
    This tool is so nice: I can get under the snowbank, push down on the handle and break a big chunk [way too big for lifting] and sled it, pull it to where I want it, turn it around and lift the handle to unload. This is also what I use when I need to remove litter in the chicken coop and drag said litter to my fruit trees, so it gets a lot of use. It needs to be strong, good quality, well made.
     
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    In the San Juans we've got the same situation as Victoria right across the strait, with unusually heavy snow and a polar front that is keeping it around longer than normal, all coming very late for us as well.  Snow is an issue here because we're not set up very well for it, unlike other places I've lived, where it was more common.  General snow stuff is well covered above, I can add a few off-grid and PNW specific things we sometimes forget between snow events.

    Try to clear off the solar panels and keep them clear, which is easier said than done, depending on where they are!  Snow blocks them, so no power.  If this was a problem this year, figure something out for next time that is long enough and soft enough to clear without damaging them. My water drain freezes, though mostly the water in will keep running in a Northeaster.  We have great weather forecasting now, so I do all the water-intensive things like dishes and laundry beforehand, then carry water outside to dispose of it (not where it will make ice I'll slip on!).  After the snow/freeze begins, I try not to let water go down the drain.  Then when things thaw, the drain will work.  There is a time lag between when the thaw starts and when things like drains and hoses thaw--better to not let them freeze in the first place.  In this storm we're in now, I drained most things, but my 55 gal static water supply for the shower is frozen solid, so though it is warmer now, there won't be a shower for quite a while.  Dang--dishpan baths work fine, though.    

    If you have duplicates of things like chicken waterers you can trade out thawed ones for frozen, and then you have to haul less liquid water around.  I always get metal chicken waterers because I can set them on the stove to thaw. This is hard on the valves though, so I also sometimes switch to metal baking pans, same idea.  Think small, easy to carry back and forth, and able to be on the stove.  Alternately, use containeers that are really flexible, that you can dump the ice out of easily.  There is no point to filling water troughs completely, though if they are frozen solid it takes less water to make the level high enough for short animals to drink from, so that can be an advantage.  I water large animals what they will drink, several times a day rather than trying to keep a constant supply thawed.

    Snow is heavy, especially our snow, especially when the rain starts and is soaked up by the snow.  Clear off traps and costco sheds and flat roofs, or they will collapse.  Clear off shrubs and trees you care about, or they will break under the weight of the snow.  Be aware that limbs and trees will break and fall, especially if we get freezing rain on top of the snow load, plus a little wind.  It sounds like a war zone in the woods sometimes!

    Allow extra time to do chores, because breaking trail and moving things heavily covered with snow and cold and sticky will take more time and effort than usual.  Double if you are hauling water too.  Be aware when you are getting sweaty and adjust clothing as needed, or you end up getting damp and colder.  (People with real winter are laughing now, but mild-climate people don't get this!). Drink enough water!  Especially if you are hauling water and don't have as much as usual, it's tempting to not drink because you use it up faster.  But it's dry in a northeaster here like it is in our hot dry summer, as the moisture is the air is all sucked up in ice.  Keep your gloves and socks dry, rotate them out for spares if needed.  

    I offer no hints on driving--we have no plows here, and it's a tiny island anyway, so I just walk and enjoy the scenery!  
     
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