Braving the Virginia Winter

Reader Contribution by Benjamin Baer
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Well, we survived our first “winter storm” … at least, that’s what they were calling it (having experienced hurricanes in Florida, I don’t think this past week’s weather is worthy of the title storm). Where we live, we got about 3.5 inches of snow Tuesday. I will admit, being from Texas and Florida, 3.5 inches is a lot of snow. A matter of fact, on Friday Central Texas received a centimeter of snow/ice and the entire city shut down. Literally, the entire city shut down (FYI, if you google “snowpocalypse in Austin” you’ll find some pretty hilarious stuff) and if we still lived there, I’m sure we would have hunkered down in the house and stayed put all day. But the 3.5 inches of snow here has had little to no effect on our everyday lives, we still managed to get to and from work each day without issues. And yes, they definitely are more prepared for this type of weather in Virginia than Texas, and they treat most of the roads and such. Key word there being “most,” we live out in the sticks, and I can assure you most of our roads were not treated, and yet, we survived on them just fine. We were, of course, extra cautious and drove slower than usual, but we made it without any issues. It’s funny how quickly you can adapt when you don’t have much of a choice. I mean, I wasn’t about to miss work because there was snow on the ground. 

There’s still a lot of snow on the ground, as we didn’t make it out of the 20s until this weekend, when we finally made it to the 30s. But as I mentioned, the snow hasn’t been the issue, that’s not the case for the temperature. We knew winter would be cold in Virginia, it’s January, it’s supposed to be, but I was not expecting to wake up on mornings and it be 5 degrees, as it has been nearly every morning this week. I thought temps like that were reserved for the Northeast. I used to say, “It doesn’t matter if it’s 5 degrees or 32 degrees, if it’s freezing, it’s freezing.” Well, I stand corrected, there is a really big difference between 5 and 30 degrees, heck, there is a difference between 5 and 20 degrees!

Probably the biggest issue has been getting the dogs to use the bathroom. Our dogs seem to think they’re too good to put their feet in the snow.

We still have our homesteading adventures on pause. We’re currently renting a home, and while this house and land would be perfect for our homestead, I’m not about to do all that work, just to leave it and start over in a few months. Nor am I going to attempt to move it all with me. We are making plans though.

I already mentioned my next chicken coop is going to be the Taj Mahal compared to my last one, but we are also thinking/doing research for gardening and beekeeping. Yes, beekeeping! That one will be difficult, and we have our work cut out for us, but there is a ton of good information out there, and the learning process has begun. I’m sure it will be just like learning to keep the chickens. Before I actually got our previous chickens, I was paranoid I was going to screw something up and kill them or become infested with mites. But, after a few weeks, I realized if you just use common sense and do the necessary work in keeping your coop clean and all, you’re probably going to be okay.

Now, I still think there is more to beekeeping than keeping chickens, but I also think the same principles apply … learn the traits, do the work, use common sense; and you’ll probably be just fine. We shall see, it will definitely be interesting.

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