Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Snow, Mud, Wind, and Heat

It rained last night.  A warm rain, so this morning almost all of the lovely snow was melted away to reveal the mud.  So much mud!  I hope I'm not becoming a broken record, but I've been complaining about the mud since we moved to the farm.  I've never lived on a clay patty before, and I'm continuously frustrated by mud management.  Anyplace we walk frequently becomes a muddy trail.  The mud doesn't seem to bother Puck at all.  I wonder if dogs can learn to wear muck boots?

Not only is the mud more intense here at the farm, the wind is unbelievable!  Just look at the wind patterns in the snow.  We had snow dunes several feet thick on the leeward side of the house and outbuildings, but on the side of the wind, the snow was so thin we could see the grass.  Any object poking up in the yard had a wind excavated trench around it.  No wonder we could feel wind blowing through the outlets on the west side of the house!  

We've been slowly plugging up gaps and figuring out how to stay warm here.  We always have a can of that expandable spray foam insulation at hand.  Did you know they sell insulated inserts for under the outlet covers?  Even with the insert and the spray foam I ended up taping the little holes for the plug on the outlet in the living room on the west wall because the wind was blowing in so hard I could feel it when I was on the couch.  Burrrrr....  But, I was only late for work one time because the water pipes under the house froze during the night and we had to cut a hole in the kitchen floor and thaw things out with the hair dryer.  You know, like the pioneers did it.  Ha!

The chickens and guineas stayed in the coop during the deep snow days.  They seemed content to stay near the food and water.  One of the guineas did brave the snow briefly, and flew to the top of the barn.  Brandon poked his head inside the house to ask me if we should do something to help it, since it was pacing and making funny noises above his head while he worked in the barn.  I'm not sure what Brandon had it mind, but we didn't have to rescue it after all because it launched itself from the tallest point on the barn roof and flew all the way to the top of the chicken coop!  Like a real bird!

Our rocket mass heater experiment wasn't very helpful during this cold snap.  We never could get it to draft well, and we spent some time each day trying to tinker with it and were always dissapointed.  We have enough electric heat to knock the deep chill out of the house in the main living areas, but to really warm the house without the wood fire, we have been relying on our kerosene heater.   We bought it for if the power ever goes out, as a back up to our wood fire back up.  I didn't really want to use it, because I had memories of a kerosene heater from my childhood that included a toxic smell.  Once Brandon showed me our electric bill though, I was ready to open the box the kerosene heater came in and give it a try.  Maybe it's because this heater is new, but the only time I catch of whiff of toxic smell is the instant it's lit and maybe when we fill up it's tank.  Otherwise, it makes wonderful scent free heat.   

Can you see the trails in the snow in front of Puck and Brandon in the picture above?  These are deer trails.  It's fun to follow the trails and see where the deer go.  One came almost all the way the house.  Sometimes I would see them in the mornings, since they stand out against the snow when they move.  

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