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Sunday, December 20, 2009


Well, we got our first big SURPRISE snowstorm of many year the past few days.  Not 5 days ago, the forecasters were saying they didn't see any snow through New Year's day.  Then they suddenly predicted 4", then 8", then 12", then 20"!
I got 14" out in the middle of the driveway, which is about my most accurate place to measure.  Some nearby places did get 20", so I guess I was lucky.

I got up early this morning, deciding to buy a snowblower.  Consumer Reports magazine had an article rating them in October.  I googled my local stores for the "Best Buy" recommendations, but of course, none of them had those models.  My one gripe with Consumer Reports magazine is that it is nearly impossible to ever find the exact models they give the best ratings to.

But then the sad truth hit me!  First, I had to shovel the driveway anyway to get the car out.  Second, most stores were closed because of the snow.  Third, any snowblowers available tomorrow weren't going to be on sale, even if the lesser ones were available.

So I accepted reality.  The driveway had to be shoveled before I could contemplate any further decisions.  Reality sucks!  But I got out my heavy socks, pulled on my knee-high rubber boots, pulled the "serious" (Carhartt) winter coat out of the closet, and set about shoveling the snow.

The driveway is 60' long.  I did almost 1/2 and decided to stop for a rest.  I had taken some pictures and decided to load them onto the computer, and I make it a point not to over-exert myself (the hospitals call the day after a major snowstorm "heart-attack day").

When I went back outside, a neighborhood teenage boy walked by and asked if I wanted to have him finish the job.  I said no, but quickly changed my mind.  When he said he would finish the job for $20 I said YES YES YES! (in my head)  but "well...  OK" out loud.  He didn't have his own snow shovel, but I have a good one (real metal, teflon coated).  He didn't have gloves, so I lent him a pair of mine.  It was worth it just not to have to deal with the dreaded snow plow ridge at the end of the driveway!

I told him it didn't have to be edge to edge, just more than the width of the car.  And because the driveway is at an angle to the house (because of a poorly placed storm drain), I stomped out the edges for him.  And he went to work.  Not to make fun, but his technique was horrible.  Clearly, he had little experience shovelling snow.  I gave him some slight advice (like, you really can't lift 15" of snow at once because it won't stay on the shovel, so take it off the top first.  I know about snow.  I grew up in Massachussetts and as the eldest child, I did all the snow shoveling, as I have all my years.

I helped him out when snow started sticking to the shovel.  Even teflon-coated shovels will start to keep snow when they get cold enough.  The trick is to bang the snow off and hit it with a silicon spray.  He did his best and was about near the end of the driveway (that dreaded snow plow ridge) when a neighbor (whom I do not know) came by with an ATV with a snow blade attached.  He blew out the snow plow ridge in 5 minutes!  What a cool machine...  I would love to have one, but I would settle for a snowblower!  When he finished, he just drove to the next driveway.  The only thing I could do was salute as he left.  I wish I had pictures, but the camera card was full.

Meanwhile, the neighbor kid was widening the driveway (relieved by not having to fight with the snow plow ridge).  Finally, it was done.

When I could tell it was wide enough for the car, I offerred him another $10 to do my 12' sidewalk and front steps.  Again, his technique was awful.  He was trying to do it from the bottom up and tossing snow where he would have to shovel it again.  I showed him that it was easier to turn the shovel over and scrape it "downhill".  When he did that, it went very quickly.  He got that done in about 20 minutes.


After he left, I widened the driveway by another 2 feet, but that only took 10 minutes.  After all, he had done what I asked of him and I was grateful to be spared the endless bending to scoop out most of the snow.

I'm still deciding whether to buy a snowblower.  I'm thinking a 2 stage, multiple speed model with electric start and recoil rope backup.  And I'm thinking Ariens for the quality, but CR magazine rated a Craftsman a "Best Buy".  Any advice will be appreciated.  I'll probably wait until the end of winter when they go on sale.  For use next time.

Then I went to do the deck.  I usually shovel out a path for the cats.  I did that.  I discovered that I had more raised decked nails than I realized.  As soon as the snow melts, it is HAMMER time!  But I did get it shoveled.

They enjoyed that, but you will have to go to my cat blog for that story.  The snow on the deck was almost 21" though.


Alasandra said...

Wow SNOW!!!!! We never get that much here.

Derby said...

TBT in regards to snow blowers, any of the brands you mention would be good, also Toro. Buy what you can afford and have room to store. Also after a snow like this many places may sell out of snowblowers so there won't be any left for an end of the season sale.

The neighbors here too help mum out with the end of the driveway, they have two stage blowers, versus our one stage.

Laugh at the lack of snow shovelling technique. If you don't have to do it very often if ever, you don't learn.

Enjoy your white Christmas.

Anonymous said...

You didn't build a snowcat?