Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snowyness and coldness

Here's a snap I took yesterday of one of our local Amish "schoolbus" adaptions. This one, a "four door" model made of plywood and two by fours and plastic over a cart chassis, was spotted in a very gloomy snowstorm, just ready to turn right on the busy highway from Knox to Unity.

Spotted just in time, I might add.

After it made the turn, several modern four-wheel drive vehicles barreling through the snow on said highway were of course forced to slow to a one-horsepower pace quite abruptly. We've become used to such things in Unity, but I was glad I saw the horse prints in the snow before I saw the vehicle itself, and doubly glad I was driving the four-wheel drive truck, not one of the cars. Had I been coming down Ward Hill in a car without snow tires and not seen this contraption until the last minute, I might have been faced with a choice of the ditch or hitting the thing.

Having been around the Amish on and off for many years now, I long ago lost any propensity to romanticize their way of life. They do some very smart things, and some very silly things, for the sake of religious doctrine. Sending kids off to school in blinding snowstorms in rickety old horse carts might be admirable fortitude and independence from the military-industrial complex, if done only on quiet back roads!

It's only a matter of time on Route 137, I'm afraid to say.

There's a whole industry of romanticizing the Amish in America, with knick-knacks and "Belva Plain" novels and other tat sold by "English" businesses, although sometimes the Amish are themselves involved. I'm immune to this stuff, and so is Aimee, although we do buy Amish and Mennonite food stuffs when the prices are not inflated by tourists. Rarely do the romanticizers and profiteers mention the mounting road deaths that the Amish suffer in their attempts to live their old-fashioned lifestyle side-by-side with the "English."

In other news, we just had about 8 inches of rain Sunday and Monday and the basement flooded, but then the jet stream took a very rare meander to the northwest, and a tongue of very cold Canadian air slopped over the mid-west and licked all the way down into Maine.

It was only supposed to get to 10 F (-12 C) last night, but when I looked at the outside thermometer this morning it was 0 F (- 17 C).

I thought it was a little snappy when I stepped out to let Haggis piddle.

Actually, what was the dead giveaway was that the trees were popping. They only do that when it gets below zero.

That means it was pretty cold in the house this morning, about 58 F, because I haven't been running the oil heat. Instead, cheap bugger that I am, I'm running some trash wood though the outside wood furnace. This was almost my downfall, since when I ran the tap for my morning coffee water, it ran very slowly to begin, a good sign of icing. The kitchen pipes live in a crawl space that has it's own small hot air duct from the oil furnace, just for the sake of the pipes. They're also routed right under the wood stove, and the floor isn't insulated at all. When the wood stove is flat out, that floor is 80 - 90 F inside, and easily 50-60 F underneath, so as long as the stove is running, the pipes can't freeze.

If in doubt that the wood stove will keep running hot enough overnight, or if you leave for any length of time, you turn on the oil heat.

But I only turn the oil heat on when I'm expecting very cold weather overnight. I wasn't expecting such very cold weather last night.

I have the stove cranked now, as well as the outside furnace and the little electrical heater that sits by my armchair. We'll be fine. But I'll be more careful next time.

Last news is, we're done with the semester Friday. I got done teaching the day before yesterday and am walking around in the drifty rosy glow that comes of having had a nice nap Tuesday afternoon, ten hours' sleep Tuesday night and nine hours' sleep Wednesday night.

How much easier and pleasant it is, to work an 8am to 5pm shift, than a 5am to 3.30pm one?

(5am, or sometimes 4am is when I generally start work if I'm teaching classes at 8am. I get my correspondence out of the way before I leave the house, get to my classroom by 7am, or 7.30am, and then do an hour of prep.)

Who knew? I've got 8am classes next semester too, but only three days a week, not five.

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Welcome to our Farm Blog.
The purpose of this blog is for Aimee and I to communicate with friends and family, with those of our students, and other folks in general who are interested in homesteading and farming activities.

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