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After My First Cup of Coffee

After My First Cup of Coffee

I was on a roll this morning. After my first cup of coffee I shoveled the packed snow from in front of the hen house door. Steve usually plows a wide path past the hen house and firewood tunnel, and then on to the edge of the woods. Not this time. There’s too much snow. Officially we got 24″ during the blizzard but after being out in it this morning, I disagree. I’ve shoveled and roof raked, walked on and through, and measured in several places. It’s closer to 30″.  The ducks came out through the people door to get to their water in the path but got distracted and headed for their pen. They won’t be in their pen until most likely April. It’s too much snow to shovel to get to their little door into the pen.


blizzard 2017, after my first cup of coffee
after my first cup of coffee, mailbox in snow

Roof Raking. It’s a Thing.

after my first cup of coffee, hen house door, blizzard 2017With the birds tended to for the day I raked the porch roof. Metal roofing helps snow slide off but it’s not as helpful as I expected. The roof doesn’t have enough pitch, something we can’t change. Had I known I’d still be roof raking I’d have voted for a much more attractive traditional roofing. Anyway. I also shoveled the snow off most of the back porch. The ermine has a tunnel through the snow that’s about 18″ off the ground, and I was careful to leave it as intact as possible. Most of the cleaning up from the blizzard is done…just in time for the storm that starts tomorrow afternoon. We’re supposed to get another six to twelve inches. Yeah. <—sarcasm I’m going to need more coffee.

I’m not complaining too much. We had bare ground under big softwoods two weeks ago and little snow after that. There were frigid days here and there but no long cold snap. It was an easy winter up until the blizzard. I’m protecting my work time carefully these days as I write, and I’m enjoying the new routine I’ve set up. Being snowed in is nice.

After my now third cup of coffee, it’s time to hit the book.

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It’s a Blizzard Out There – Blizzard 2017

It’s a Blizzard Out There – Blizzard 2017

It’s a Blizzard Out There

It’s a blizzard out there. I’m sure the weather service will call it officially. Conditions must be winds of 35 mph for three hours and visibility reduced to a quarter-mile or less due to falling or blowing snow. We’ve got that. I turned into a human plow to get through the drift on the back porch on my way to the hen house this morning. It’s worse since then. Steve is off work due to weather for the first time in 26 years.

We’re well prepared with firewood, water, and gizmos plugged in to be 100% charged if the power goes out. There’s always more than enough food to last until the plow can get out. Speaking of the plow, I haven’t seen it since last night so it’s likely grounded until the storm starts to slow.

Blizzard 2017 Photos

The hen house is about 125′ from the house.

it's a blizzard out there, blizzard 2017, hen house
it's a blizzard, porch, blizzard 2017
blizzard 2017, blizzard out there
snow in window, blizzard 2017, it's a blizzard
white out, blizzard 2017, Maine, it's a blizzard
it's a blizzard, out the window, blizzard 2017, blizzard conditions

Routine Change – Freezing Cold Nights

Routine Change – Freezing Cold Nights

 Routine Change

Routine change seems to happen quickly even though fall creeps in slowly, particularly this year. Last week we had daytime temperatures in the high 70’s and nighttime temps in the low 50’s. This morning the hose was frozen because the temp dipped into the high 20’s. At 10 am the water trickled through enough to get the thawing process started. Routine change: drain the hose during evening chores and make sure it’s stretched out where the morning sun will find it earliest.

Moving the Chicken Tractor

Every morning I let the Cornish Cross meat chickens out of the tractor to run for the day. I bring them a little corn to help them warm up quickly. Every evening I move the tractor onto clean grass or soil, move their five gallon waterer into the tractor, and wait for them to go in for the night. Routine change: As of today I’m moving the tractor in the morning and leaving the tarp over it so the sun can warm the ground during the day, giving them a warmer spot to sleep at night.

Building a Fire

checked firewood, routine change, dry firewoodMost mornings I’m up early, start the coffee, get the kindling and firewood, build a fire and get my shower while the coffee finishes. I dress by the fire that’s still catching, barely enough warmth to start the groan and pop of the heating metal. Routine change: Bring in the kindling and firewood after evening chores. Build the fire first thing in the morning, then start the coffee. Coffee takes a few minutes to make because we grind beans each time we make a pot. The spent grounds are stored to be scattered in the herb garden. Building the fire first won’t make a huge difference but it’s a few extra minutes for the heat to build.

I’m looking forward to days inside later this week, watching the rain fall while sitting by the fire, working without interruption, writing writing writing for something other than a paycheck. I’ll roast a chicken with potatoes, carrots and onions on an open fire by the pond on Wednesday and then use the leftover chicken for chicken salad with cranberries and walnuts, fajitas and a soup.

Coyote Problem

routine change, coyote, meat chickens, cornish cross, A coyote has been hanging out here for more than a week. One came through in April and July. A youngster very much attached to our back porch, backyard and orchard, visits nightly for the past week. It arrives a little earlier each night, just after Steve turned off the noisy saw and came in last night.

We can’t night hunt again until mid-December but if I catch it in the act of bothering the meat chickens, well, it’s days are over. The cold nights seem to have spurred its desire to hunt here. The deer haven’t been around since the coyote showed up. I will feel bad for ending its life. It’s not an animal I’ll eat and I won’t tan its hide. I really don’t know what I’ll do with it; it’s been quite a while since we’ve had to kill one. I hope it takes on a routine change before it’s too late.

And speaking of killing. <sigh> One of the meat chickens, a hen, is mostly likely developing pneumonia. We’re in wait-to-see mode. We have two choices. Treat her with antibiotics or slaughter soon. We’re two or three weeks away from processing all of the meat chickens. We don’t want antibiotics in our food when we have a strong alternative. She’s fryer size now, certainly large enough to provide three meals for the two of us. I’ll see how she is in the morning. I’m ready for the poultry routine to change, for them to move on to the freezer. It’s chilly during the day, cold at night, and sometimes so windy I have to tack down the tarp covering the entire tractor at night. It’s not good meat-raising weather now as it takes more food to keep themselves warm as well as grow.

Are you going through a routine change as autumn progresses?

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Wooly Bear Predicts Winter – Or Does He?

Wooly Bear Predicts Winter – Or Does He?

Woolly Bear Predicts Winter?

This woolly bear predicted a cold snowy winter for 2015/16. So did Farmers Almanac. We had cold weather because this is Maine and you know…winter. We had little snow though, never enough at once to snowshoe in the woods and deep enough for the snowmobiles only one weekend. About half the normal 100 inches of snow fell. There were a few days below 0° but there were more days in the 40°s and 50°s than 0°.

Oh Woolly Bear! How did he get it so wrong?

winter predictions, 2016, 2017, woolly bear, caterpillar

Genetics and environment determine the woolly bear’s looks. The better its diet and longer it’s been eating the narrower its orange band will be. Woolly bear tells us about its diet and genetics, not the weather. The one in the photo must have been eating well. I can related to that. The more I eat the wider my middle gets.

Does Nature Predict Winter?

I love folk lore. The ground hog? I’m amused by grown men (who might be drinking heavily because why else would they do this) who pull a ground hog out of a box, shine lights in its sleepy eyes, and expect it to see or not see its shadow. Six more weeks of winter? Boooo. Same six weeks until spring? Yeah!

Are the wasp and hornet nests high or low? Find them and you’ll know how much snow we’ll have.

Are the geese heading south early? (Or have you, like I tend to do, forgotten when it is they usually leave?)

Look at the pigs. Are they gathering sticks? Heavy winter if they are, or they like to play with sticks.

Lots of pine and spruce cones in the tops of the trees tell us there’s going to be a harsh winter…or mild winter. Two winters ago the trees were loaded and winter was horrible. Last year the trees were loaded and winter was mild. Flip a cone. Or a cone.

Nature reliably predicts winter…except when it doesn’t. It’s still fun.

What folk lore stories do you enjoy?

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