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How do you get around your homestead in the deep snow?

 
steward
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Silly question for someone from WI....  But we have rather a lot of snow right now.  I clear the driveway with a garden tractor mounted snowblower.  We shovel to the chicken coop and around to the front door with a shovel.  But I also need to get to the shop and greenhouse which are 100'+ from the house.  The path is too uneven for the tractor and it would certainly get stuck.  

Currently I just put on the tall boots and snow pants and break a trail.  Then after about 6 trips down the path it gets tromped down enough to be a reasonable path.  After yesterday's snowstorm, it was a struggle.  Mid thigh at times and that was when walking in the path that had already been tromped down.

I don't want to get a walk behind snowblower just to make trails around the property.  I don't have a 4 wheeler to put a plow on.  I don't really want to shovel a path that far.  Currently we have about 3' of snow on the ground.  I have snowshoes but I don't want to put them on to get to the shop, then take them off to get a board, then put them back on to get to the greenhouse, then off, etc.

Am I missing an obvious way to make paths in the snow?
winter-paths.jpg
[Thumbnail for winter-paths.jpg]
 
pollinator
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Snowshoes.

For ice, I wear boot spikes.
 
pollinator
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Mike Jay wrote:
I don't want to get a walk behind snowblower just to make trails around the property.




So being a virtual stones throw to your west and dealing with similar issues, we've somewhat divided this into priorities.   We need open paths to buildings similar to what you've provided in the photos....all for animal feeding and maintenance.  For those, a walk-behind snowblower has been invaluable.  For the record, we have a 5 hp and 8 hp and both MTD brand, the cheapest I could find at the time at Fleet Farm.  That was 20 years ago and they are miraculously still kicking.....I don't even know if Tecumseh is still around who was the engine manufacturer, but they've been remarkably robust.   [The past 10 years have seem much reduced snowfall up until the present, so they only got used a few times each winter during those years which may be contributing to their longevity. MTD may have gone the way of many others and just having generic import engines on their current equipment.]   Importantly, both have a 24 inch cut and while the 8 hp does 'kick it' a bit more on power, the lighter weight and maneuverability of the 5 hp makes it the unit that my wife and I fight over when "Mr Snowman" has visited the night before.  The 5 horse is more efficient on fuel, yet throws snow like a champ.  And even with our northern Midwest cycling of blizzard to -20 to +40 all within a 24 hr period, which can turn fluffy snow to mashed potatoes in a hurry, just waiting for the temperature to drop in to the 20s or teens renders the white nuisance sufficiently powdery to blow on out.  I realize that many of the tools we discuss on this forum are not exactly "permie", but I do feel that things like walk behind snowblowers, rototillers, chainsaws, etc. may be, for as long as power can be contrived for them, "appropriate technologies" for many.

Anyway, a cruder form of trailpacking is done on the lower priority walking-path type trails around the property and for those, I use the quasi snowshoe/backcountry ski sold by Karhu (below).  The binding style accommodates any boot so you don't have to have specialized ski boots and the skis have a mohair strip on the bottom ('no-wax') for grip.  The point of using them is to pack down the snow sufficiently over a few passes so that the skis are no longer needed.  Understood that this can take a bit with deep snow, but it's the choice for longer trailwork that is not as high priority as the paths to the animal shelters.  Hope this may be of some use!
KarhuSlidingSnowshoes.jpg
[Thumbnail for KarhuSlidingSnowshoes.jpg]
 
Mike Jay Haasl
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Thanks John and Myrth!  I did site the chicken coop close enough to the driveway that I can snowblow that out at the same time.  I just shovel around the door and by the run as needed.  So at least my animal tending access is easy.

I might go a few days without having to go to the shop.  But it's often enough to be a bother.  My snowshoes aren't easy enough to put on and off to even consider using for these sorts of trips.  Those Karhu skis could do the trick.

One other crazy idea I had was to make a trail packer.  Something I could walk behind and steer that is powered by a cordless drill and a thumping weight.  Kind of like a plate compactor for snow.  It probably wouldn't work but a guy can dream.

I could certainly pick up a snowblower for the job but I really don't want another engine to maintain.
 
Myrth Gardener
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I use the snowshoes to pack down a path so I don’t need to wear them each trip. I walk back and forth and create paths that are easier to walk. I have my snowshoes set for my tall snow boots, so they aren’t that bad to put on - as easy as skis, really.
 
Mike Jay Haasl
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Oh, gotcha.  Break the trail with them, then come back with the tall boots for ensuing voyages.  Thanks for straightening me out
 
pioneer
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Mike, I do the same thing you do. I hope someone has a better answer.  Until then,  tromping through ass- deep snow is quite a workout.
 
Mike Jay Haasl
steward
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No doubt!  I had to take a bucket of ashes out to the garden.  This year I was smart enough to make an auxiliary gate since the normal one opens out at ground level.  On the way there through 2.5' of snow I had to stop several times to catch my breath.  I'm not sure the missus would have found me soon enough if I had a heart attack.  At the gate it was drifted 5' deep.  Clearly should have dug out the snowshoes for that journey.  But it was kinda fun in a way.
 
John Weiland
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Mike Jay wrote:

.....I could certainly pick up a snowblower for the job but I really don't want another engine to maintain.



I hear ya there and certainly do my share of that on riding and walk behind mowers.  That's the surprising thing and maybe goes back to 'number of hours of use' when in comes to the snowblowers and rototillers, which tend to see high use for a short number of days and then sit idle.  One of the factors that **may** be helping here (and not to be taken as an endorsement of the product) is that Stabil fuel stabilizer....and there are lots of others like it.  These do seem to help prevent fouling of the fuel and the carburetor not only during storage, but as an occasional additive to clean out the system.   Whatever the basis, the tiller and snowblowers, if having been pre-treated before storage with a fuel stabilizer, have been thankfully starting each season even after long down-times between use.  Good luck!
 
Mike Jay Haasl
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I agree on the Stabil.  I treat all my gas with it at the higher "storage" level.  I don't drain or run out my tanks at the end of the season and they usually start right up.  Last year I started up my wood chipper after sitting idle for two years and it started on the second pull.

So I guess maintenance isn't really the issue...  More that I don't want to have the risk of dealing with something that won't run and have to figure it out or spend more money.  And store it.  And smell it in the garage.
 
Myrth Gardener
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Mike Jay wrote:So I guess maintenance isn't really the issue...  More that I don't want to have the risk of dealing with something that won't run and have to figure it out or spend more money.  And store it.  And smell it in the garage.



This!

Every time we talk about getting another tool with an engine, I just cringe. Will it start after sitting a year, or 2? What hell will we go through getting it to run? What cost will it be, to get it running again? Do I really want another machine in the barn? Do I want another gas-eating monster? Do I want the smell, the mess, the CO2, the exhaust?

What I really wish is to have battery operated machines. Batteries are *still* not there yet. But they are getting there. Already they have small tools with swapable batteries— multiple tools that run on the same battery packs. But imagine having the ability to run larger tools like that. A power washer, snow blower, mower... all powered by one easily swapable rechargeable battery pack.
 
pollinator
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I'm gonna have to go with the walk behind snowblower.  I wouldn't be without mine.  It has been running strong for nearly 20 years, usually cranks on the first or second pull.  I probably blow 3-400 feet of trails every snowfall that the only other option is a shovel.
 
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Can you make better paths in the non snow part of the year so you can use your lawn tractor to keep those paths open?

That is the way I have been keeping my paths open. And next year with a high tunnel we are putting in 300 ish feet away that will still be my preferred method
 
Mike Jay Haasl
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Hi Bernard, the path goes over the current lawn. There's a healthy dip that I have to traverse which is fine when mowing but not with a blower on the front.  I believe...  So I'd have to build that up which would have knock on effects.

I've also found that, at least with my garden tractor mounted blower, when just driving into a foot of snow for a long distance, if I can't keep going forward, I can't back up either.  Something about how some snow falls in behind me and I can't back up perfectly straight so I start to drive on the loose snow and I start spinning.  Another issue is that when I get to where I'm going, I may not be able to turn it around.  That's because the blower is a fair distance past the front (turning) wheels.  So to turn I have to push the blower sideways into the snow.  Easy enough for gradual turns but not gonna happen for tight maneuvering.  I could shovel a turn around area at each location but then we get into my laziness issue.

For the chicken coop it's a 25' straight shot so I can drive towards it 8 feet, back up and scootch over 2' and plow in 12', back up and scootch back to the first spot and plow all the way and back up and clear out the left bit.  If I just do one trip there I sometimes can't get back for the aforementioned reasons.
 
Bernard Welm
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Mike,

I have the same issues with the lawn tractor but I find that if I keep a 2 width area blown clean it helps throughout the rest of the winter. That said if the drifts are big or we get a lot of snow yes it does take some extra effort to keep the same width but in the end it makes life easier since I can walk back and forth easily. One area I blow is in the barn's steel roof dump line but my water spigot is there, so I have to keep things clean. The other one is the path to the wood pile. Here I have to take a 90 degree turn. I end up just blowing a LARGE area for my turn zone. If i keep things clear I can use a garden cart to haul wood. I really don't want to do that by hand

I still think you may be able to find a space where you can make a lane to your buildings. Is there a way to avoid the area with the dip even if it is a bit longer?
 
Mike Jay Haasl
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We sound like we have similar challenges.  My commonly trod paths are to the greenhouse and barn (workshop).  Every other week we have to haul wood from the wood pile to the back of the house (with a sled).  Every month or so I have to go out to the garden shed.  

There's only one way to get from the driveway to the greenhouse/barn and it's through the dip.  It also involves a 90 degree turn.  The wood pile to the house is a different path in an area I know I can't get to with the tractor in winter (lower level basement door vs first floor driveway = steep hill to get to back yard).

I think the best fix would be to blow it with a walk behind.  I'd just rather not get one.  Then I could get to all of these places and handle the back yard hill (I think).  Plus, maybe, I could blow out the snow slump off of the greenhouse.  I'll have to keep my eyes open for an 80 amp cordless snowblower like the one Cecile likes (from another post).
 
gardener
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EGO Power 56 volt now has a snow blower!  I have their 21" self propelled lawn mower and the string trimmer I love them ! 16" chain saw is next.   Battery's all interchange , although my big one for the mower is too heavy to want in the string trimmer.  


For now,  like you I walk out a path to the shop. Ocasinally I will bring a snow shovel and do "trail maintenence "
 
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