Monday, February 18, 2013

Aimee's cold heart?

There were a few serious jobs to do around the house and farm this Saturday, mostly the generator unpacking and wiring, but also sheep water-changing and one or two other must-do farm things. Sunday, however, was pretty much of a wash because of the storm and so I concentrated on writing for my blogs, particularly my teaching blog. We're discussing agriculture in class right now, and some otherwise disinclined students are engaged, and I wanted to capitalize on that interest with an article and some videos.

I wrote until 9.30 am, which when you consider how early I get up, is a good long stint. The storm had blown up Saturday night but the winds for some reason had become disassociated with the worst of the snow, and so although we had a few inches of snow overnight, it wasn't too bad. I then took the dogs for a good walk, using the trail some local snowmobilers had kindly made to avoid the need for too much post-holing.

But by noon Sunday the winds had begun to strengthen, and by evening they were howling pretty good around here, the windows creaking, and the house occasionally too. It's somewhat unsettling to live with the notion that your house may one day blow away, but I guess since we've been messing with the planet's climate, we'd better get used to it.

The power flickered off only once, so my new generator went unused, but I felt vindicated in true husbandly fashion -- the way a man does when the wife doesn't listen too well to an argument you know is sound. The only problem would have been that the new power cord for the genny wasn't ready for service. I made plans for another trip to Home Depot during my lunch hour today. It helped the urgency a little that we also have a plumbing leak under the kitchen sink, for which I need parts.

During the afternoon, I turned my attention to learning to use a new piece of science kit the college has just bought, a FLIR infra red camera. I'll be using this in physics labs and in fact already have. It's a very helpful device, and very engaging. It will also find use in building technology and energy classes, as well as in community energy auditing service work with students.

The windy cold day made our creaky old farmhouse an ideal test bed. Although there has been an enormous amount of energy-saving work done over the years, and the house is currently pretty cosy and efficient, there is still more to do.

Here's the good news, the outside of the front of the house where our super-insulation retrofit shows very little energy leakage at all. The hot spots, at around 30 degrees F compared to an ambient of about 10 F when this shot was taken, are the windows and the satellite dish.

Here's some bad news, our rickety staircase from inside. You can see the cold air infiltration through the cracks in the staircase construction. That air is not too cold, indeed at 59 F it could be worse. It's coming from the cellar, and being slowed and warmed by the insulation in the cellar head.

I now have dozens of these kinds of pictures.

Here's a fun experiment, a Shenzi-cat in infra-red. You can even see the brindles on her fur, which Aimee was quite impressed by. I enjoyed the cold wet nose.

And here, for fair measure, is Charlie-cat, also with wet nose.

A student once ribbed Aimee for being "heartless" on an exam. She kept the note on her Facebook page. When the IR camera appeared she decided to prove the matter once and for all, with the help of a pack of frozen vegetables. Here is the officially cold-hearted Aimee:

I think she looks more like a ghost myself, and the veggie pack is the wrong shape and perhaps too far over to the left.

But I think we get her point.

The wind is still howling outside. I'll need to get suited up in my insulated coveralls and go break out our vehicles from whatever snow drifts they're in. This may be a day to try to get home early so I can move snow from the driveway and chore-paths.

Hopefully the wind will have dropped by then. It will be March soon, and we may begin to get some better weather around here. The likelihood of heavy snowfall drops in March, to be slowly replaced by rain, and mud season is usually underway by the end of the month.

Then April, and lambs in the sunshine.

I'm looking forward to it after these arctic months.

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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.

The earliest posts, at the very end of the blog, tell the story of the Great Farm, our purchase of a fragment of that farm, the renovation of the homestead and its populating with people and animals. Go all the way to the last post in the archive and read backwards from there to get it in chronological order.

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