Saturday, February 9, 2013

Riding it out

Finish the following sentence:

"You know you are living in Maine when..." can't open your front door because of the snowdrift outside.

The drift on the step was actually the smaller of the several drifts I had to struggle through to feed the sheep this morning. The deepest were about four feet deep, while I could see others, not in my path, that were easily five feet. 

The sheep of course were quite stoical about it all. Most of the had slept outside or just inside the door of the barn, to judge from the layer of snow on their fleece. There was quite a bit of spindrift snow inside the barn, too. We leave the doors open, so the sheep can come and go. They don't like to be cooped up, and so when it's this bad the snow does come in a bit. I'll have to sweep it out later.

This must be the new fashion in sheep-wear, a layer of fresh snow.  

Or, more likely, a very old tradition indeed.

Here's the snowfall inside the barn. 

It looks worse than it is. A few seconds with a broom will dispose of this later, once all the wind has dropped and the snowfall has stopped. We won't plow or shovel until late this afternoon or even tomorrow morning. It isn't worth it. The town plow hasn't been up our road all night in any case, and the road is drifted over pretty well, so only one of our vehicles can go anywhere, the Land Rover, and we'll only drive that in an emergency, if someone gets hurt.

The Land Rover found itself in a small snow-free zone, the result of some kind of self-induced vortex. We used this spot for a partial trail, to help us in our trek to the barn, but there was a pretty good drift in front we had to wade through first. 

The dogs were well over nose-level. They actually didn't want to leave the house this morning, and had to be coaxed out. Poor puppies. 

Actually, that's a bit wimpy for farm dogs, isn't it? 

Aimee must have spoiled them.

It couldn't possibly have been anything to do with me.

I've half a mind to start the Rover up and drive it to the store, just to see if I can, but I'd feel pretty silly if I got stuck half-way and needed help, or worse yet, blocked the road for the plow-man. 

Better hunker down some more, and perhaps save that special experience for when we really need it.

The power has flickered on and off a few times, rebooting the DSL modem and interfering with my newspaper-reading this morning, but so far it hasn't stayed off. 

Which is a good thing. After trying to use the generator last week, and having it cut out after only forty minutes of run-time, I of course investigated as soon as I got the chance. We were sent home early from work yesterday and I took the opportunity to do all my pre-storm chores, and checking on the genny was one. While firing it up for a test run, I noticed blue smoke at start-up. This might not be so bad -- it is a fairly old generator after all, and saw a tremendous amount of overuse at the Bale House

But the smoke continued for at least the first four or five minutes. Not good.

The piston rings are worn out, then. It won't be long now. Later yesterday afternoon, I researched the price of a new short block engine replacement. Generac no longer makes the generator, but they do still use the # GN 220 engine, and you can buy one for about $300 plus shipping from online discount parts warehouses. The trouble is, you can get a whole new propane generator, with a larger power output to boot, a full household draw of 8,000W versus the 3,500 W we have now,, and the option of full 220 V supply, instead of the 110v we have now, all for about $800 plus shipping. 

If I had 220 V, I could run the entire distribution panel instead of just half. That would be a great convenience. Luckily, our well pump is only 110V, so we've never really worried. We felt lucky to have the old genny from the Bale House for a back-up. Lots of other people around here don't have generators at all.

The trouble is, I could just also replace the rings in the old one, probably for less than fifty bucks. I doubt this would be a particularly difficult job, and I'd probably even enjoy the work.

We'll see. For now, with the storm hitting pretty good, we have a fair chance of an outage. I'm not too worried. I'm sure I could nurse the old engine along for a few bursts of say 30 minutes at a time, enough to shower or cook or water the animals. 

But I'd like to have the full-on 220V set up, with the proper connector and switch to boot. Power cuts are a fact of life in mid-central Maine. It's silly to struggle without a generator, or with an old worn-out one at half-power, if we don't need to. 

Probably the thing to do is to buy the rings and change them out, then buy the new generator anyway, and sell the old one for $500 on Maine Craigslist.

Of course, the humans are the ones that have to worry about electric power and pumping water when the power goes out. The sheep say they don't know what all the fuss is about, but thank you anyway, for the extra oats and coarse-16 they got this morning.

No comments:

Post a Comment

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.

After getting tired of spam comments (up to a dozen or more per day), I required commentators to be Google "registered users". You can write me at if you have a serious comment or question and are not a registered user.

Spammers -- don't bother writing -- there's no way I will post your spam to my blog. Just go away.