Right now the wind is howling outside, and I can feel stray threads of cold air wandering through our house. Our insulation is spotty, and these are the days it is fully tested. We are nearing the end of winter, which turned out to be an exciting one.
First, there was nothing, and my eight-year-old was starting to say heartbreaking things about climate change. “We are not going to get any more winter, ever,” he proclaimed. I kept promising snow, but I was getting a little nervous. So when they started to predict winter storm Jonas, I welcomed the news.
The blizzard dumped almost two feet of snow here, and we thankfully came through fine without even losing power. Never have I been so grateful for my clothes dryer as mittens and snow pants tumbled and warmed.
Snow on the farm is relaxing. It is good to see the fields getting a deep watering and know some of the pests will not be overwintering.
But it is the hoophouses—plastic-covered greenhouses—that cause us to worry during snowstorms. Years ago, one of our hoophouses collapsed under the snow, and now we always fear the steel frames snapping and bending under all that weight.
This year, we stripped the plastic covering off of two of our hoophouses, but one remained covered, which was a mistake. During the blizzard, my husband was out there every few hours around the clock, knocking and sweeping snow off. Something about the shape and position of that house made the snow stick and pile instead of sliding off.
It was hard work, but the house stood strong and will be ready for spring planting. The day the snow melted, we all went out to the hoophouse. It is surreal to hike through snow past your knees, then pull back a flap of plastic and arrive in a long garden bed of wilted kale and chickweed. Inside the hoophouse we sat in a patch of spring and watched the snow slide off the outside with a little help from the broom handle.
The kids played in seven-foot snowdrifts around the side of the house and watched pieces break off like icebergs and slide slowly, then faster and faster, down the sides. It was loud and dramatic, and it felt like the weight was shedding from our own shoulders.
At one point, a large block of snow almost slid right onto the children, who refused to step back. But it broke apart into powder just in time, and they laughed with joy. Just the winter drama we needed.
Boxes of seeds are arriving in the mail now, and winter will not be here much longer. In the meantime, we are still working our way through crates of winter vegetables. We are “picking” sweet potatoes from crates piled in our house instead of the ground. And we are discovering the art of winter bakes that remind me of tzimmes.