Snow Bound!

February 13, 2016 | Author: Jan
alpacas snow alpaca farming farm

Winter Storm Jonas came to town in a very big way this past weekend. He dropped well over two feet of snow at Fair Winds Farm and we got to stay home from work. Dale spent most of each day out clearing snow from the drive and making paths around the farm – paths for us to be able to get to the animals and paths for the animals to get a little exercise.

The animals like snow just fine. At least they like it when they can walk through it easily. When it gets up over about 4 inches, though, they just don’t seem to like the sensation of sinking in over their ankles. Instead of venturing out into the snow, they’ll just hang out in the run-in shed or under the barn awning…basically anywhere the snow didn’t stack up. The problem with this is that they’re just standing around and they start to get a bit peevish with each other. That level of closeness would get on anyone’s nerves. The fact that this intimacy is complemented by an accumulating pile of rather odiferous manure doesn’t help, I’m sure.

With a very little help from me, Dale carved out some exercise paths and we made sure they could easily transit to hay racks and water buckets. It would have been nice if they would have tramped out some paths themselves. They certainly had the ability to do so. I can’t really blame them though, it’s a bit of an effort to pull one’s leg out of a snow drift just to plop it into another. And I suppose it wouldn’t be all that pleasant to feel the snow on one’s belly as you moved along. There’s a bit of uncertainty too. Sometimes that snow is covering uneven ground and it might be tough to manage one’s footing.

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It’s been warm during the days since the storm. The snow cover is melting off fairly quickly. The last time we had this much snow it took days for it to melt off to the point where the ground started showing through. Dale and I watched it go from feet of snow to inches of snow. And the whole time the animals stayed contained to their shelters and the paths we had carved out for them that time. Even when the snow was only a few inches deep, they wouldn’t venture out into it. This might strike you as strange since I told you they are fine with snow under 4 inches deep. It really isn’t though.

You see, the animals don’t realize that the depth of the snow has changed. They see that white covering over the pasture and they remember that it was really deep and they didn’t like that at all. Without the knowledge that it has been melting away, and without the reasoning to understand that the fact that it’s only a few inches deep along the edges of the paths means its also only a few inches deep across the pasture, they think the pasture is still covered with feet of snow. It’s really too bad, because we know they would enjoy getting out away from the shelters and stretching their legs. But their fear and unwillingness to explore has them snow bound, even when it’s only in their minds.

People sometimes behave in a similar way. They let bad experiences affect how they approach the world. When they experience a situation that is frightening, uncomfortable, awkward or challenging, they turn their backs on it and refuse to explore its possibilities. They just remember the last time they tried to face it and decide they won’t take the risk that things might be better this time – or that the situation isn’t the same as last time at all – or that they’ve changed and can handle it now. The result is that they miss out on a lot of opportunities when just a little boldness could have shown them that they have the power to make their own new paths. It’s something for each of us to think about. Are we creating artificial obstacles to our success because of our assumptions about the way things are? I suggest we work on changing our assumptions by actually testing the depth of the snow to really know how deep it is and by figuring out how we can learn new skills to deal with it even if it is still deep. We’ll have a lot more fun if we do.

And as I watch this snow melt, I think I’ll try a little experiment. When it does get down to the 2-3 inch level, I think I’ll see if I can lure some of the animals out into the pasture with a bucket of grain. I want to see what they do when they realize nothing is actually holding them back. I bet they’ll kick up their heels.