In case anyone has missed it, there was a massive amount of snow dumped on pretty much the entire United States in the past twenty-four hours. There are all sorts of great posts by people out there having fun in the snow, but we had a slightly more practical matter at hand.
Where we live, we received in excess of 20 inches of snow. And it had drifted. A lot. We also own no snowblower. My husband called me hard core this morning, pointing out that since this snow didn’t make me want to go buy a snowblower, nothing would. He’s right. Except for possibly living in Buffalo where snows like this are de rigeur.
Instead, I’ve compiled my lessons learned over the past ahem years living in cold climates from Minnesota to Chicago to Connecticut. And yes, our driveway and sidewalks are now cleared.
Top Ten Tips For Clearing Snow
10) Choose your instrument wisely. I love my shovel. First, it has a lifetime guarantee, so I don’t worry about breaking it. Second, it’s the right size for me so I can get enough snow picked up with each scoop to be effective without getting so much that I can’t lift it and risk a heart attack. Did I mention that it has a metal blade at the bottom for scraping all the way to the bottom? Oh, and it has sides, which means snow doesn’t fall off as you’re lifting, unlike the wee ones’ shovels.
9) Don’t wait until the snow has stopped falling to start clearing. Yeah, it’s no fun to shovel multiple times, but it is so much easier to shovel three inches than it is to shovel twenty. Of course if your snow is later turning to freezing rain, forget I said that. It’s easier to shovel ice encrusted snow than it is to remove straight ice from your driveway.
8) When you’re shoveling, figure out which way is downwind. It was windy today when we were shoveling. The wind was blowing north to south. Our driveway runs east/west. Shoveling the south half of the driveway was breeze (pun intended?). The north half of the driveway? I kept forgetting to not throw the snow and instead carefully place it on our ever growing pile. The end result? Snow in my face and down my jacket, making me very cold.
7) Shovel early in the day. I don’t say this simply because it’s better not to procrastinate and yadda yadda. When you get most of the snow off your driveway and you have a blacktop driveway, the sun quickly heats up the surface and will melt the “leftover” snow, making things so much easier for you.
6) Figure out where the edges of your driveway are early on. If you don’t establish your boundaries when you first start shoveling – especially if you live somewhere that produces more snow before your first snow melts – you’ll slowly lose ground. Your ten foot wide driveway that is plenty big enough to get in and out of will become a nine and a half foot driveway when you just get it mostly shoveled. Then it will melt and freeze and harden and snow again. Your next shoveling gives you a nine foot wide driveway, and so forth. Not that this has ever been a problem for me. Nope, not here!
5) Try to shovel before walking or driving on your snow. It’s much easier to pick up fresh snow than it is to get snow or ice that’s been ground into your driveway, especially if it’s concrete and not blacktop. If you have to drive, shovel your tire tracks as soon as possible so they don’t freeze into a slippery mess you can never remove.
4) Enlist help in your shoveling. The wee ones have their own shovels, and they actually sort of enjoy helping out. Of course, their version of “helping” frequently means putting snow back where I just removed it, but they’re learning. Slowly. My husband is fortunately a much better help. Or I’m good help for him. We help each other. It makes the shoveling go that much faster, especially when we’re both determined to show the other that we’re working harder and shoveling more.
3) Make sure you clear out the area in front of your mailbox that your local snowplow “accidentally” forgets to plow. We learned the hard way that Mr. Mailman will not deliver unless there is a clear path to the mailbox from ten feet before to ten feet after the mailbox itself. Because he left a nasty government note and refused to deliver our mail two years ago after the snowplow stopped plowing about two feet from the edge of the street for some unknown reason. Granted, this year I’m debating simply picking up my mail daily until April since there is 20 plus inches of snow six feet out from my mailbox because our village has apparently decided we only need one lane in our neighborhood. And I simply can’t shovel that much snow.
2) Don’t forget to have fun with the snow once it’s cleared. This time around, we had enough snow for the wee ones to build an igloo or two. They thought it was the coolest thing ever – far cooler than the snow angels we usually do (we found out it was literally too deep to make snow angels this time around) or snowmen, which we may yet do.
And the number one way to get rid of snow when you don’t own a snowblower?
Make friends with your neighbors who own snowblowers. Today, a neighbor saw us struggling to shovel. After he’d finished his (larger) driveway after having started before we did, he walked over with his two stage snowblower on steroids and asked if we wanted help. Given that the snow was deeper than the intake on even his massive snowblower, we weren’t about to turn that down. He was a huge help and a major reason it took us only two hours to do the driveway and sidewalk today. I’ve had other neighbors come by before – generally the boys down the way who this year opened a business to do your driveway for $5 per inch (they cleaned up today!). That said, I’ve also had the nice village snowplow man – who was nowhere in sight today – see me pathetically shoveling on my own and do a detour to clear out the bottom section of my driveway. It’s always appreciated, and yes, we thank people with a case of nice beer. Ok except the neighbor kids. We find alternate thank you gifts for them!
So how was your snow day today?