We've had a fairly mild winter here in North Idaho. When it snows, it's just a couple of inches and it melts quickly, so most of the time we have bare ground.
But occasionally conditions can get treacherous. In mid-December, for example, we had wet ground which froze overnight into an ice rink. When I came down in the morning, Don had left a note on my computer:
And boy was he right. It was a sheet of ice outside.
No amount of doing the Tim Conway "Old Man" shuffle worked. It was wildly dangerous to do chores.
Ah, but this year we have a secret weapon: strap-on ice traction cleats. This particular brand is called Stabil Icers, but there are many brands on the market.
We've tried cleats before. A few year ago, I purchased a relatively inexpensive pair, strapped them on, and tried walking to our mailbox and back (a three-mile round trip). Within half a mile, the cleat straps broke. So much for that pair.
This time we purchased high-quality versions. Apparently the individual cleats are replaceable if they ever wear out.
When the ice sheet formed that day in mid-December, Don strapped the cleats on my boots and I went out to do chores.
The contrast was stunning. I could walk with perfect confidence on the slipperiest surfaces. Yowza, good investment!
But poor Mr. Darcy went sliding under these conditions until we got him into the pasture, where he could run.
Shortly after this adventure, we had a light snowfall over the ice, which made things even more treacherous (nothing like invisible ice!). But the cleats worked perfectly.
Fast forward to yesterday. It was raining, as the weather report predicted. What I didn't know was it had rained overnight, then frozen, then rained again. I mean, look at this. It looks just like bare wet ground, doesn't it?
In fact, it was water over a sheet of ice. I found this out when I put on my snow boots and went out to do barn chores. My feet flew out from under me and I slammed to the ground, cracking the back of my skull against the ice so hard I saw stars. I remember rolling over and scrabbling around on my hands and knees, muttering "Where are my glasses? Where are my glasses?" with irrational panic. (Any near-sighted person will understand the conundrum of being unable to see far enough to see where one's glasses are.) It took a few moments to realize the impact had shoved my glasses up on top my head.
I crawled back into the house, stunned from the blow and feeling aches in my spine and neck. A painful knot developed where my skull hit. After recuperating for a few minutes, I strapped the cleats onto my boots and went to do barn chores. What a blessed relief to be able to walk safely.
Here's ice sheathing the car window.
Don and I haven't taken the cleats off our boots yet. Yesterday mid-morning, when conditions were at their trickiest (still icy, still raining, so the ice was hidden), UPS drove up to deliver a package. I snatched up my boots and went out on the porch, calling to the driver, "Watch out! It's slippery!" as I hopped into my boots. Evidently the driver knew that already, because he emerged from the truck doing the Tim Conway Old Man shuffle. I dashed over to the truck to keep the driver from walking any further than he had to. He said the road was insanely slippery coming in, and shuffled his way back to his truck.
So yesterday afternoon I decided to walk to the mailboxes, cleats and all. It was a good thing I was wearing them, that's all I can say. Three miles is a tiresome length of time to walk in boots with cleats, but the cleats didn't break and become useless as my first (cheap) pair did that time several years ago.
Yep, these cleats are an excellent rural winter tool -- highly recommended for anyone facing icy conditions.