When it gets icy here, just walking down the back steps is a feat, but making my rounds to feed the critters is the whole circus. Ice cleats to the rescue.
Biding time to try out the ice cleats
So since it hasn’t gotten icy since they arrived in the mail, I haven’t had a chance to try them out. Until yesterday. We only got a little bit of sleet and ice and snow yesterday. Maybe 1/2 an inch total. But that makes the rocks and smooth surfaces pretty slick.
I was worried that I’d need *enough* ice to grip with the cleats. I was wrong. They worked fantastic even on a little bit of ice coating. I didn’t slip one time. Ice cleats are the bomb.
Other Low-Tech Solutions
I’ve done other things in the past to combat the acrobats on my way up or down the hills in my feeding route.
Scattering ash from the woodstove on the path helps a lot and recycles something that otherwise just piles up outside the house.
The drawback to that is that it takes many days of carrying the bucket of ash along with the buckets of feed. And if it’s icy, I’m also carrying a jug of warm water for Turbo and the chickens.
Another solution is to make a trail from hay and walk on that. Which works pretty good, but the chickens that aren’t in the pen just scratch it all around, so that’s not a good solution here.
This works, but drains off when it melts and has to be reapplied. However, the salt does have an environmental effect and I’m not sure its a good long-term solution. I’m also not sure how safe the store bought ice-melt is long-term either. We still use one or the other of these on the back steps so no one slips when they’re not wearing ice cleats, but I don’t want to make my whole route paved in salt.
Where to Buy
Anyway, I love the ice cleats. They have lots of models available and you can buy them most places that sell shoes (at least out here where it tends to get icy in winter). I bought mine online at Amazon.
There are several options and price ranges for ice cleats. I went all out and got the STABILicers for around $40. The price varies according to size and style. I can’t vouch for the other models, but these are the ones I plan to always have handy during winter.
Predator and Prey, or the hunter and the hunted is a common theme throughout my fiction writing. No Qualms, one of my short stories (free at most retailers) is about about a predator/prey relationship. Symbiosis, my first finished novel, deals with predator/prey relationships and the balance of energy among life on earth, sometimes symbolic and often outright. Many of my flash fiction stories (I have twitterfiction and 100-word flash stories) are also dealing with this same dynamic. This is a strong theme that runs through most of my fiction and is strongly influenced by life in the wild Ozarks where we live. My first published novel, First Hunt, also has a predator and prey theme to it. I guess it's just part of my nature.
Wild Ozark is 160 acres of beautiful wild Ozark mountains. I call what I do "nature farming" because the land produces, all by itself, the shagbark hickory trees, ferns, moss, ground-fall botanicals, and the perfect habitats for growing and stewarding American ginseng. I'm co-creating with Nature - all of the things I use to make the Fairy Gardens and Forest Folk, the bark we harvest for Burnt Kettle's shagbark hickory syrup, are produced by nature without my input. This land is my muse for inspiration when it comes to my writing, drawing, and photography. It's truly a Nature Farm.
About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods
I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.