We got snow, lots of snow! Forecasters had been predicting a blizzard, which they named Goliath, and they were right on with their predictions! This storm blew in quickly on Saturday evening (26th) and produced whiteout conditions. Tye and Becca had been at her parents’ house at Sumner Lake, which is about 2.5 hours from the ranch. They left as soon as they saw the storm moving in, hoping to make it home before it hit, but it moved in faster than expected and they got caught in it just north of Roswell. Tye drove by feel, knowing when it got bumpy that he must not be on the road anymore. He took it slow though and thankfully they made it home safely without incident.
Sunday morning we woke up to drifts that covered our vehicles and fences. It was hard to tell exactly how much snow we got because the 40+ mile an hour winds pushed so much of it around, but as best as we can tell we got at least 2 feet. Considering this area might get a total of 4 inches in a year it was quite the storm for us. Thanks to the early forecasting of this storm we were able to check waters and make sure all the cows in the pastures were fed ahead of time. Tye and Kim are still trying to get a full count on all the cows. The herds are spread out and not together like they usually are so it has been slow going, especially since they can’t get around in the pickup and have been checking everything horseback or on the 4-wheeler. We’re a small family operation, but 24 square miles is a lot for two guys to check, so it’ll still take some time. They know for sure we’re missing 3 cows in the House Pasture. They are out checking as I type this, so we may know more by tonight and in the coming days. The biggest loss so far has been an entire tank of water in West Frazier. It’s the biggest tank on the ranch. This windmill hasn’t been hooked up to solar, so it relies completely on the wind. The wind usually doesn’t pick up until spring and it has to pump 600+ feet before it even reaches the surface. Given the size of this tank we are looking at 3 or 4 months before it’s back to capacity. Water is our most valuable resource, so this is a huge loss for us.
This region doesn’t have snowplows or salt trucks because it is so rarely needed, so it has taken us a while to dig out. On Monday morning, Kim rode over to Tye and Becca’s house horseback and he and Tye started trying to clear snow off the road between our houses. Kim manned the tractor and Tye worked the Skid Steer. They worked the entire day and were only able to clear a mile and a half, just a little over half way. In the process the hydraulics went out on the tractor, leaving only the skid steer, and as hard as they worked they just weren’t able to make much headway. A long time friend of Kim and Patricia’s also works for the county road department. He worked late on Wednesday night trying to clear a path on the YO road so he could reach our road on Thursday. The drifts were so high in places that he wasn’t even able to break though them on his road grader. He ended up getting stuck, but from seemingly out of nowhere, a big front-end loader showed up from Artesia. It was a construction company that was just going around trying to dig people out and help where it was needed. If they hadn’t shown up its no telling how long Joe would have been stuck. They helped him out and then between the two of them they were able to get the road passable to our houses. There is still quite a bit of snow on the ground, but in other places it is a muddy soggy mess. It’s barely passable in 4 wheel drive and we’ve got to time our travels when the road is frozen otherwise we sink too far down into the mud.
Overall we have fared really well. Ranch life kind of prepares you for times like these. We are nearly an hour from town, so being snowed in and not being able to go anywhere isn’t that big of a deal since we don’t make that many trips anyways. We plan our meals weeks at a time, shop accordingly, buy in bulk, and make do if we run out of something. Amazingly we never lost power, so even when we were “stuck” we were blessed with warmth. We know it could have been a lot worse. Snow is a minor problem compared to the Tornado in Texas and Widespread flooding along the Illinois River!
Many, many, thanks to Central Valley Electric for keeping our power on, Joe Clemenza for working long hours to get our road cleared, and to the unnamed construction company out of Artesia for helping out where it was needed!