The Benefits of Snow on the Farm
Even though I’m not a winter enthusiast, it’s always been my thought that if it’s going to be cold, it might as well snow too. Snow is so much prettier than a drab brown and gray landscape! However, beauty aside, there are far more important reasons that snow can be a true benefit on the farm.
Benefits for the Birds
Neither the chickens nor guinea hens are fans of the snow. They were not impressed when we recently got over two feet of snow in one day! They were fine with the fact that they had to stay in the coop that day. The next day we were able to clear their way to come outdoors again, but for the most part, they just moved from the coop to the garage!
However, there are advantages to the snow for them. First of all, when we shovel and clear snow, we’ll pile it up against the edge of the coop and the garage to help keep both areas more insulated for warmth. There is no kind of heat in the coop during the winter, other than the birds’ own body heat, and heat from composting leaves and straw on the floor of the coop. We use the “deep litter” method in our coop, which means we let everything just pile up over the winter, adding more straw or pine shavings and keeping things stirred around. This not only generates some heat, but it gives us wonderful compost for our garden in the spring!
That much snow also keeps the predators away since it’s not easy for them to travel in it. It’s not foolproof since they can travel the road and into our driveway at times. The birds will stick to the area between the coop and the garage where they are not seen from the road though. The wildlife will eventually find our walking trails once we’ve established some too.
While they do have their ways to get around, the other good thing is that wildlife tracks are easily seen in the snow, so we can know what kind of animals are around. After this storm, we only saw deer and turkey tracks, so we could relax just a bit when the birds were free ranging.
Two days after the storm my hubby was able to take his four-wheeler around the woods and make some trails so Luke and I could go for a walk. This snow was simply too deep and soft even for snowshoes, so it was the only way we could get out there.
The snow also makes a beautiful white backdrop for our woods, and we can look down and spot wildlife more easily as well. The day Luke and I had our first walk after the storm, I quickly knew what these tracks seen below were, because I had been watching some wild turkeys down in the woods that morning, and knew which direction they had walked off in.
We do also have trail cameras to help with that, but with the snow on the ground leaving tracks behind, we get a better idea of where the active areas to watch are.
Benefits for Farm Dog Luke
While we must be careful of letting him overdo it, walking in the snow is great exercise for Luke! Luke has luxating patella’s (bad knees) so running on anything slippery is not ideal for him. However, we try to let him just “be a dog” (with limits), and he was so happy out romping in that fresh snow that morning! He bounded through it just like a deer. We haven’t seen any sign that it was hard on his knees, it’s usually ice more than snow that will make them pop out of place, and this was a soft snow too.
I wish I’d had some photos of this, but there was so much snow on our deck I couldn’t just step out there to snap a shot!
He enjoyed our walk in the woods as well, he can really get himself trucking on those trails Dad made! It was more difficult for me to walk and I had trouble keeping up with him! We were both exhausted by the time we got back to the house. We don’t get as much exercise in the winter as other times of year, so it’s great if when we do get out, it’s a bit more strenuous!
Cold weather alone does not make those nasty ticks go dormant for the winter; a good snow cover is the only thing that will finally make them go away. They can live in the leaf litter even in cold temperatures. It’s such a relief when we can finally stop spraying Luke with repellent before every walk, and I know he doesn’t miss that step either! Sustained colder temperatures can be another factor, actually killing the ticks, and reducing their numbers for the next spring as well.
Unfortunately, a constant snow cover from fall through spring can help the ticks to survive better, snow creates that same insulating factor for them in the leaf litter as it does for our buildings. Later snow can make that better, so it’s kind of a trade off!
In the end, Mother Nature is the only one that is in control of it all anyway. She thought it would be pretty funny to follow up our 2 – 4 foot snowstorm across NH with rain just a week later on Christmas Eve and Christmas. I was shocked when I got up on Christmas morning and looked out the window to see bare ground everywhere!
The birds sure were happy about that, even if we humans were not. It was also warm, in the 50’s, on Christmas day, so despite off and on rain, the birds were happily out in the yard getting wet. For us, at least walks are easier, though I’d still rather have at least some snow on the ground!
We wonder what Mother Nature has planned for the new year? Bring it on!
Happy New Year from all of us here on the farm!
Well, we just had some early morning fun, moving around your new (well, new to us that is!) site – and what a wonderful place it is! Learned so much about the guinea hens (cute baby ones), loved the pre Christmas snowfall photos … enjoyed the story of how this all came to be: dreams do happen!
Here’s to a 2021 that is good, safe and successful for ‘the farm’ … happy, happy to all!
Hi Ann! Thank you so much for coming by and checking out our new site!
Happy New Year to you!!
The Island Cats says
Happy New Year! All that snow makes for a pretty winter wonderland.
Thank you! Yes, it sure does. Luckily we got just enough since Christmas to cover the ground so it looks pretty again!
Oh my gosh, from 2+ feet to bare ground would have been shocking. I bet all the critters (and humans) appreciated how much easier it was to get around without all that snow. All the snow is beautiful though.
We’ve gotten a few inches since then, which is not so bad! We have the ground covered but it’s still easy to get around in. 🙂
Thanks for the education on ticks. I thought I could ease back on the tick preventative during the winter, after we had a good week of temperatures about 10 degrees. I guess I was wrong! We’ve had 8″ snows this winter, but maybe not enough to put those ticks down. Ugh. I’m glad to hear you all enjoyed your big snow! I’m a wee bit jealous.
A good week of cold temperatures might have done the trick though! We got just enough snow back to cover the ground again, plus it’s been below freezing so I hope we’re safe now too. 🙂
Lynn LaChance says
crazy weather! I think all your pics with snow are indeed much prettier than the ones without-glad to hear there are some other benefits of snow as well for you on the farm!
I’m glad we got enough again to at least cover the ground, even though I had a nightmare drive into work one morning last week!
Brian Frum says
Oh my, that’s a bunch of snow, yikes! I’ll bet the sweet birds were really happy when it left though. Happy New Year from all of us!
Thank you! Our ground is covered with snow again (a much smaller amount this time), and it’s been cold enough to keep it that way. The birds have not been coming out as much!
Ducky's Mom says
I love snow as long as I don’t have to drive in it. Unfortunately, around here it usually melts within a day and turns to ice overnight. Ugh!
Glad you allow Luke to be a dog with limits. We do the same with Ducky because of her hip dysplasia/arthritis. Had to give her another 1/2 tablet of Carprofen this morning. Hopefully she won’t need any more this week.
I agree with the driving. I had an awful drive into my shop one morning last week when we had an ice/snow combo. Next time I’ll just open late!
We always worked to find that balance of keeping our dogs happy but safe at the same time. It can be challenging! Our beagle Cricket was the toughest one to do that with, since she was so high energy. Luke is more laid back – some of the time anyway. 🙂
Hope Ducky is doing better now!
I’m glad Luke loves the snow and I’m glad you just let him be a dog with limits. I know he appreciates that.
We have about two months of cold and then it warms up again. I’m all for that.
Have a fabulous day and week. Smooches to Luke. ♥
I wish we could be done with ours in just two months! 🙂
Luke appreciates your support and sends smooches back. ♥
We like the snow and cold and come and stay until spring. The melting and freezing only makes for gray days and lots of ice. We are too warm again, so it is messy out and it makes us sad. These days we plan for ticks all year because it is too hard to predict with the weird weather. Hope you get some more snow.
The ice storms are the worst, we could definitely do without any of that. Just snow is fine with us!
We did get a couple small storms so our ground is at least covered again. 🙂
then I have to guinea-hen dogs.. they are in a bad mood today after 2 inches of snow… and I’m with them… miss spring? where are you?
I saw those dogs of yours in the snow and they did not look at all happy! I’m actually surprised that Luke doesn’t mind the winter, with his short fur and all.
A wonderful snow post! Snow makes everything more beautiful.
Happy New Year to all of you!
Thank you! We’ll be by your blog soon (trying to catch up) and see what you’ve had for snow too!
Oh, What a lot of pretty snow! I love it, though I wish it would stay off the roads and sidewalks…yup…as if, LOL!
Your patio table looked like a big cake!
We haven’t had much snow…yet, but we have had ice layers twice, that is treacherous…
With all the technology these days, I don’t know why they can’t figure out how to make roads and sidewalks stay snow free! LOL
The ice is definitely worse, snow is much easier to deal with. We had a combination one day and my drive to work was treacherous!