It Has Started

3 April 2012          3.00 PM        42 F   Sunny

6 April 2012         10.00AM        38F    Snowing

If you thought any of the previous blog posts had been a bit whiny about the amount of snow we have had this winter and constant need to be digging, shovelling, snowblowing etc, prepare to be whined at some more.

The next few weeks ahead of us is absolutely my least favourite time of year in Alaska. Break up -as it is called, when the winter’s bounty (that’s snow to you and I) is adversely affected by the ever increasing sunlight and warming temperatures. The end result is that what was a joyous playground becomes a grotty, miserable, muddy, swampy mess. No-one is happy about this. The dogs don’t like that their nicely compacted living areas are, for a spell, either rivers, lakes or mudholes. People don’t like that, for the same spell, the ground is treacherously deceiving. It looks solid enough, until you plant a firm foot downward, at which point, rather than perambulating forward in the expected and customary manner, you find yourself face down in, if you are lucky, a soggy snowbank, and if you’re unlucky, one of the aforementioned mudholes.

So far, this Spring hasn’t been too bad, although it is very early days yet.  The biggest issue I have been having is that the snow, of which we have had an abundance, has been packed down by the dogs and humans as we go about our daily business.  This is all well and good and does make moving around the dogyard much easier, even with 14 feet of snow on the ground. However, the warmth in the sun wreaks havoc on the snow surface, softening it quite dramatically and leaving it with all the weight-bearing qualities of it’s main constituent, water. One can no longer casually wander carefree around the yard, each step is a calculated gamble or more accurately, a wild guess at the outcome. A good result is a step that only sinks in about an inch or two, moving downwards in the scale, we have the ankle sink, the knee sink and my personal favourite, the drop you into your groin sink. There may be a deeper drop available, but I seem to find that once I’m thigh deep in snow (and it’s usually just the one leg ) perhaps the greater spread of bodymass stops me sinking any further.

Of course, this predicament can be made a lot worse, depending on the chore being carried out at the time. 5 gallon buckets are an almost permanent attachment to a musher/handler’s hands in a dogyard. Finding yourself falling as the ground gives way underneath you is a tricky enough task to do with any modicum of grace and decorum. Add in bucket or two full of soup for the dogs, and the end result could be an unwanted shower of warm water, powdered fat and raw meat. It has to be said, that given the alternative contents of the other buckets, if you have a choice, I’d recommend going with the soup spillage over the poop bucket disaster every time.

melting snow makes lake
The first of our meltwater lakes in the driveway

I’m a little disappointed in that photograph, as it fails to capture quite how much water has already gathered in some of the lower spots in our driveway. It may not look like much, but that puddle is over 9 inches deep and I couldn’t convince any of the dogs to stand in it long enough to have their picture taken.

Snowy roof
West facing roof and effective snow dams

That’s a lot of snow, and as you can see, some of it has already melted and slid off onto the deck below. As a precaution, because we really don’t want to have either ourselves or any of our dogs crushed under a sliding avalanche, our roof is fitted with snow dams. These are designed to allow a section of the snow to slip, but not the entire roofload. In the picture, you can see just how well this is working, each of the segments have separated and hopefully, we’ll just get partial slides.

no snow on this side of the roof
North and east facing roof, ineffective snow dams

Unfortunately, nature doesn’t always take that much notice of our precautions and plans. This photograph is the other side of the house. Not quite the same success. In fact, the snow slid off in one big, rumbling scary freightrain and I was just happy that none of the dogs were in the way. If you look closely at the picture, you’ll see that many of the snow dams have paid the ultimate price for gallantly endeavouring to hold back the onslaught. We now have a 10′ high snow bank outside the kitchen window and I have caught a couple of our more adventurous, younger, house dogs standing on top of the snow bank and stretching out to put their front paws onto the gutters. I’m pretty sure none of them are stupid enough to actually try climbing onto the roof……………….

broken fences from the snow
Snow sliding from the shop roof has broken this section of fence.



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