Saturday, December 31, 2016

Heavy wet snow

Arriving back from Christmas with family in Virginia late on Thursday morning, having left a day early because of the forecast, we had a couple hours to spare before the snow storm hit. It snowed for a few hours then rained, then snowed again. Then at 3am Friday morning, the power went out.

This combination of rain and snow was hard to shift, whether by Rover, tractor, or hand. But despite the block heater having stopped with the power supply, the Rover did start, as did the tractor. It took about four hours to make our dooryard and turning circle safe for civilization.

Then we ran the genny and waited for the power to come back on, making frequent excursions up the hill in the direction of the golf course, where the three phase distribution line for the entire town was down on the side of the road.

We wanted to know when the trucks came to fix it. It isn't much fun to leave a loud genny running outside your house all night, so we preferred not to do that, but when you have a toddler, you need to make different arrangements for sleeping when the power is off and you have no noise maker, baby monitor, or nursery heater. We were hoping the power would come back on before all this had to happen.

In the end, the power stayed out even after the downed line was fixed, there being some other fault closer to us, so we put her to bed with extra blankets, left her door open to get the heat of the wood stove, brought the dogs into the living room and locked them behind the baby gate so they wouldn't go into her room, and made sure to stoke the fire in the middle of the night. She slept fine all night without a noise maker.

It was during the excursion to stoke the fire that I realized it was getting too cold out there for propane. Our genny runs on twenty-pound bottles of propane, and doesn't like the cold at all. Even in moderately cool temperatures around freezing, it wants starter fluid. Propane boils at -43 F, but it doesn't boil easily as well as it does at higher temperatures, when it essentially flashes from liquid to gas as soon as the pressure is relieved. It was 15 F outside already.

So, after some thumping and struggling at 2am, things going bump in the night, the genny spent the rest of the night in the kitchen. It did occur to me to turn off its propane for safety's sake. It started easy this morning.

Now we hope to see some linesmen soon. Much of Maine has been without power, about a quarter of the state, and we are obviously in better shape than most, but it would be a relief to shut off that noisy genny, and, at only 3,500 watts, there are some things it just can't run or doesn't much like to run, including the electrical heating and the sheep's water heater.

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