Tuesday, March 4, 2014

It's Finally Come to This

I'm no fan of weather complaining, either doing it or listening to it.  That's especially the case then the weather is just doing what it's supposed to for a particular place and time.  When I learned last week that our own weather was extreme for our particular time and place I finally allowed myself to start resenting it and then several days later allowed myself to start complaining.  ENOUGH WITH THE SNOW & ICE ALREADY!

If you care to see the gory details you an enlarge this by clicking on it.

Honestly, I only mind that we keep getting semi-trapped at our house.  Our Road Committee ensures that our road stays pretty well plowed and our neighbor who does the plowing does a good job, but he's running out of places to pile the snow he plows and our road is getting narrower and narrower, especially our little part of it and that makes turning into our driveway a 45 degree turn. No big deal if you don't need to have a decent head of steam going just to get up the driveway, but we do.  Our driveway has gotten pretty narrow, too, which is our own fault and a result our our being newbies.  Who knew we would have to pile 3' of snow up on either side?  We should've started waaaaaaay wider.

This was taken a week and a half ago, when the plow worked and there was a foot or so less snow on the ground.

We bought the ATV with snowplow from the former owners as part of the house sale, but neither of us are engine people. Eric has experience with ATVs, but not owning and maintaining, just driving around as a kid. I have no experience at all and have yet to learn to drive something with hand operated throttle, etc.  My poor choice to not learn earlier, but last year gave no indication that it would be especially vital that I do.  It was really nice of the last owner to go out and buy a BIG book on stuff like how to wire it and such, but it would've been waaaaaay nicer if they'd left the owner's manual instead.  Even though it was valued at several thousand dollars: it won't idle unless the choke is on, the battery won't stay charged and even though we bought a charger for it it's as though the posts were designed to make that nearly impossible, AND now it won't stay started going uphill.  It's uphill both ways around here, folks.

A week ago on a cold, clear afternoon.  Of course, there's more snow now and the driveway is less plowed.
 Bonus points to anyone who can spot the "critter" in this shot!

Eric is recovering from knee surgery, so last Monday I has spent a couple hours shoveling yards and yards (cubic, that is) of snow so Eric could make it up the driveway when he got home. I also shoveled a path to the big firewood pile so I can bring some loads up to the by-the-house pile.  Of course, they I had to clear snow from the tarp covering the pile, etc. and so on.  EVERYTHING outside takes so much longer; walking dogs, feeding birds, fetching firewood (even when it's just outside the door).  Why do I blather on with this tale of woe? Well, Monday night is when we take the trash down for early, Tuesday morning pick-up. We drive it because it's about a mile to where they pick it up and the can is heavy, the road sloped, slippery, etc.  I just didn't have it in me to take it last week and this week I couldn't because... THE ATV IS STUCK IN THE DRIVEWAY.  Sigh. At least we don't generate much trash, the smallest can we could get is 60 gallons, and it's so cold out that it's not getting ripe.

We've learned some things so we can make some changes and do some things differently next year.
1. Don't put off plowing and go wide, just in case.
2. Push the snow from the driveway well into the lower pasture and keep the road plow's build-up from blocking that opening.
3. We wanted to build a proper wood shed anyway, but now we're thinking we won't build it where the last owners kept their wood, but on the opposite side of the house and quite a bit closer to it.
4. Always take the trash down while you can.

You can see a snow-covered Khan at the bottom of the driveway and a power co-op truck parked in the road.  You can also see dog-nose art on the window... ahem.

While it turned out not to be a very big deal we did lose power early on Saturday morning (during the Blizzard Warning).  We do have heat when the power is out, because our primary heat is a wood stove, and we can heat water and food on that, too.  But the well pump is electric, so that means no running water let alone hot-out-of-the-tap water.  We have drinking water set aside, but water is not coffee.  We were lucky that one of the issues causing the outages in the area was something that caused sparks at the top of the power pole that is outside our bedroom window and Eric saw it flash 3 times at 5:15a.  He was able to call our electric co-op at 5:30 and start the process.  It was probably 9:15 or so when they showed up here and it's a good thing they were able to fix that issue with a lonnnnnng pole with a hook on it, because they said that they probably couldn't have gotten their truck up our driveway.  They were very friendly and informative and didn't act especially put-out by having to wade knee deep in snow to get to the pole.

Eric made breakfast on the woodstove: bacon and eggs in toast!  It was pretty dark in there even with our LED portable lights, but I had to take a video.  That fan is powered by the heat from the stove and on there to circulate the warm air into the rest of the house. It's awesome.  It also circulates the smell of breakfast into the rest of the house.  Also, pretty awesome.

We are very lucky that we rarely lose power and when we do it's usually back in just a few hours.  A gas-powered generator wouldn't be a bad idea, but what we really want to do is get solar panels after we get a new roof in the next couple years.  We think we have a pretty good set up for it as half our roof faces southwest and there aren't really any trees near the house to cast shade on panels.

Some things we learned from this power outage which was more serious because it was so cold (around 10F).
1. Keep some non-potable water around to flush toilets.
2. Keep stock of the potable water storage.
3. Keep some pre-ground coffee in the freezer. We can make it on the wood stove if only we have some already ground.

And now I leave you some more recent images of the snow around the place.  Don't get me wrong, I still know that it is beautiful and feel lucky that I get to see these types of nature's wonders on a daily basis and I'm not wanting it to all melt off, just stop accumulating so frequently and deeply.

This is about the maximum size of the icicles on the NE side of the house; the longest are at least a yard long and it was still kind of a shock to see them through that upstairs bathroom window.  This is why we don't have gutters. YEY, NO-GUTTERS!
On one of the few sunny days, I walked around the house to see the sun lighting up the icicles on the SW side of the house.  Another instance where it would be nice to know how to use my camera better, because it was pretty striking.

Sometimes Delia likes to gaze at the view and it's a nice reminder to stop and do the same.  This was a few storms and probably 12" before the next few photos.

That big lump is the same birdbath that is in front of Delia in the photo above; completely buried.

Picnic table and benches; you can see it's up to the top of the benches.

What I have always assumed was w wildlife highway of some sort out in the woods not far from our place. Delia likes to go to it for her midday playtime and then follow along as far as I'll go.  Since the snow started condensing it was MUCH easier to follow it than blaze a trail where it was chin high on her and often knee deep on me.

This is what last year's winter looked like: lots of BIG, deep-blue sky.  Most of these other photos were taken when it was overcast.  We're about halfway to maximum icicles here (SW side of the house) and I got a tiny sunburn while hauling firewood that day.

When the sun comes out, the critters get on the move!

We're entering a melting phase this week. That's not to say it isn't still going to snow, but it won't measurably accumulate. And it's going to rain, sometimes the freezing kind and sometimes the wintry mix kind.  Mostly this means our driveway and road will be slushy and that is deep and slippery slush that freezes in slicks and ruts overnight and sometimes stays that way in shady spots.  Also, that means that our shop has taken on water under the front doors that freezes on the floor.  That means way more shoveling and plowing over there next year!  I wonder if they built that in a depression or if it's just that years of sanding the area in front of it built up the ground?  Sigh.

Eric got the ATV out of the driveway, but the slushy snow on the driveway was too wet and heavy to plow.  We're still parking Khan at the bottom of the driveway and Bert is still staying put at the top (which means I am staying put and so is the garbage can, nearly full of garbage.


  1. Wow. Amazing what one can "survive." You guys are having all the fun. I miss woodstove/fireplace cooking. Great pictures!

    1. Thanks, lady! We're leaving the snow-n-ice stage for a too-much-water where the road is being washed away in places and only our shop is "flooding."

  2. Aw, shoot, don't feel bad about complaining about the weather- you're quite justified! For the ATV, see if you can't find a shade-tree mechanic to work on it- we have tons of 'em around here, because they're a relatively simple thing to work on. Your stove fan is AWESOME- is it a thermoelectric? And shoot- wish ya lived closer, because I see old-fashioned cranker coffee grinders and hurricane lamps ALL THE TIME in the thrift shops! (Kerosene lamps were a go-to in the old farmhouse I grew up in, on the coast- no batteries, and the fuel lasts forever!) Hang in there- before you know it, we'll all be complaining about how hot it is! :)

  3. Our nearest Polaris dealer will pick it up and drop it off for not an exorbitant fee, so we'll do that when we know for sure we won't need it for 3-5 days. Should I have put "for sure" in quotes in that last sentence? The fan is this one, but purchased for much less via the evil Amazon: http://www.plowhearth.com/small-caframo-heat-circulating-stove-powered-ecofan.htm . It is FANtastic! I should look for a hand crank coffee grinder, I bet I could find one! Why didn't I think of that? [slaps forehead]

    Do I get extra points if I can already complain about how hot it is? It's all of 35 outside and I'm sweatin' just shoveling some slush for 30 minutes or walking the dogs!

    1. *Hee hee* Yes, yes you do. And thanks for the info on the fan- when we finally get a woodstove (and our flue issues worked out), that's a gotta-have. :)

    2. You bet. We LOVE that thing, especially since our wood stove doesn't have it's own fan AND we really put a little plastic one to the test and then it finally broke.


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