Archive for the ‘weather’ Category

Stroudwater Thanksgiving: year five

November 28, 2014

We joined forces with the Kaufman and Wilkins crews for “another Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat,” with a fair measure of local content including potatoes, beets, squash,  kale, and brussels sprouts.

stroudwater thanksgiving dinner 2014

I was hoping my folks could join us, but the big snowstorm put the kibosh on that, with power out in all of Georgetown and lots of work for the plow, chainsaw, and volunteer fire crew.  Maybe next year.  We got off pretty lightly by comparison, a few branches down in the woods and the light deer netting around the garden pulled down by the heavy snow – nothing in there but the last few frozen stalks of kale anyway.

I’m becoming more a fan of galvanized wire cattle panels – might consider permanentizing the garden fence with these come next year. Kelsey has been using them to stake tomatoes for a few years, and this fall she suggested rolling them into rings to protect young apple trees from the deer.  If overlapped by one pitch of the verticals and wired tightly together, they make a nice enclosure that protects a small tree so long as the branches don’t spread too widely; since we are on standard or B118 rootstock I am tending to train the yard trees with the first rung of laterals higher in any case, to keep above the mower and the deer.  The next step would be to create some kind of three-roll type arrangement to form the panels so they naturally hold the circular shape – that way the end could be easily pried open by hand to access the trees, for instance to seek and destroy the evil Round-Headed Apple Borer.


Another reason we need wind, solar, electric vehicles, and heat pumps

June 15, 2014

A semi hauling diesel and kerosene tipped over in a rotary less than a mile upriver from us on Wednesday.  The image below is from the Portland Press Herald:

gorham stroudwater fuel truck crash

The article said that 6000 gallons were recovered and “Emergency crews were able to prevent the spill from entering the Stroudwater River”.  However the crash was only 1/2 mile north of the river, and  it rained heavily on Friday.  By Saturday morning the river smelled strongly of petroleum.

Modern life requires energy to power our transportation and heat our homes, but we can (and must) do better than dirty, unsustainable, de-stabilizing liquid fossil fuels.  We need to accelerate the development of efficient technology that uses less energy to get things done, and cost-effective renewable sources to meet the remaining demand.


Running the mighty Stroudwater

June 8, 2013

A couple of weekends ago, Emily, Andy, and Elsie came to visit, and Andy (who has done a lot more paddling than I) got the notion to run Stroudwater falls.

In dry times the river running through our front yard is little more than an overgrown brook, but when multiple inches of rain fall over a day  or more, it swells impressively.  Instead of sneaking around and through the abrupt ~1m rocky upper fall at low points in the bedrock, it rushes directly over the drop in a handful of weakly organized chutes into the millpond below.  We scoped it out and judged it (and the rapid below the ruined dam) doable.

running the stroudwater 1

Borrowing Joshua and Kelsey’s 16′ fiberglass canoe (not the beautiful cedar one his brother made for him), we carried upriver and put in.  The main channel in low water is a tight 180 degree bend at the far right, but we didn’t think we could maneuver that, so we went through the next largest chute, immediately to the left.  I half-expected we would end up swamping the canoe out of the knee-deep shallows below the fall, but although we shipped a few pails of water over the bow (which is not nearly as high as in some whitewater canoes), we passed without incident, and proceeded to run the rapid below the ruins of the dam and under the bridge, where Kelsey snapped some photos (see below).  Though these rapids were less imposing, we actually shipped more water over the bow, giving the boat a slow, plowing character in the flatwater below.  We pulled out on the  north side of the river shortly below the old bridge site and carried the canoe back over the bridge and home.

running the stroudwater 2

It made me wish the next half-mile or so of flatter water below the falls wasn’t so choked up with blowdown, so we could paddle to work – Pika Energy’s new home in Westbrook is similarly only a few hundred feet from the south bank of the Stroudwater, perhaps 3-4 river miles downstream.

running the stroudwter 3

Hive number two

April 22, 2012

Friday evening I picked up a second nuc of bees at Merrimack Valley Apiaries in Billerica. Saturday morning Emily and I hived them in a new hive inside the orchard fence, so they won’t have any excuse but to work the apple trees. We then pruned Pops’ orchard around the garden – some of the clippings went to the goats for a snack. The peach trees are just starting to flower, and with a week of cold and damp in the forecast I’m not sure how much pollinating is going to happen. But the apples are just barely leafed out, so if there’s nice weather next week the new bees will be able to get busy on them. Afterwards I did some whip and tongue grafts on a birthday tree that I grafted for niece Nola last spring; we put four different types of apples on a small feathered tree, but it did not get a fence around it, and despite it being right in a yard with a fairly active dog, the deer zapped all but one of the grafts. Now it’s got a loop of woven wire around it, and hopefully it will make it this year. I’ve been too busy this spring to do much work among the wild trees on the north side in Gorham, but we have a couple B118 rootstocks in the garden that didn’t take their grafts from last year, so if nothing else I’m going to graft them over to Medaille d’Or (which flowers really late) as a hedge against crazy spring weather.

First green in Gorham

April 8, 2012

This messed up weather is getting to be a serious threat to the apple crop. Many of the wild trees in Gorham have broken buds; some of them are at half-inch green. I don’t know exact dates, but most of the time the trees aren’t leafed out for orchard weekend in early May. A hard freeze now could easily ruin the entire year’s crop. The key temperatures are at the bottom of this page at UVM. If it gets colder than the listed range of temps for each stage, the crop is toast. Fortunately, things were relatively slower in Five Islands, where we went for Easter pot luck breakfast. This is making me think to pay more attention to the flowering time of different varieties. One that comes to mind is Medaille d’Or, which is a good strong bittersweet – it breaks buds so late, the first year I thought it was dead. I snipped a bag of M’dOr scions today and stuck them in the fridge; if I can come up with some rootstock I’ll graft a handful as frost insurance.

Finally, a decent snow

January 21, 2012

After a brown holiday, and a couple of mangy frustrating icy attempts, winter came on in a satisfying way. We got five or six inches of perfect, fluffy snow to cover the crust and turn everything beautiful. Alexis had to leave early for a 24-hour stint in the ICU, so I got up and plowed out the driveway before traffic on the main road got too bad. The driveway was a sheet of ice from previous storms, and I didn’t have enough time to chain up the truck, but it did the job, just barely – had the snow been heavy it would have been a nightmare.

Nerves a bit frazzled with the sun not yet up, I put on my skis and broke in the perimeter trail on the north side, then Joshua joined for a second lap. On the way back we skied straight down the frozen river, which formed a perfect highway, both for us and for the deer. Back inside just after 8; for once I earned my breakfast.

Pie Day!

October 31, 2011

Not 3/14, rather the first snowy day of the season. Apparently last year the gang here celebrated the first snow with a big fry (tempura, samosas, doughnuts) and regretted it for days afterwards. So, this year we celebrated with pie – apple pie for starters, pumpkin for second course, and chocolate cream pie for dessert, seasoned liberally with cookies, ice cream, and whipped cream. There was some minor regret after third helpings, but we were happily eating pie leftovers today, so I think it was a success.

As for the snow, we got maybe 3 inches of heavy wet stuff, which is about half gone by today.

Real Snow in October!

October 29, 2011

The forecast just kept getting worse, so we spent the day battening down the hatches. Split up the last cord or so of oak, stacked it out of the way, and tarped it over. Schlepped some random half-rotting hunks of pine out of the way. Picked up this and that in the yard. Used plastic and tape to seal up a cheap double door that opens out onto a porch that never got built. Took about half a ton of debris to the dump. Now I’m sitting by the fire with a glass of our 2008 cider, which started out with some kind of funk (that’s why there’s a few bottles still kicking around) but has mellowed and is actually pretty nice. Big flakes are coming down outside, and the ground already has a good fraction of an inch. After growing up on a peninsula sticking out into the gulf of Maine I’m always skeptical of a forecast for unseasonable snow, but now that we’re a few miles inland maybe it will actually happen. Plowing it over soft unfrozen gravel isn’t going to be fun, though.

Irene Who?

August 28, 2011

We cleaned up the yard, battened things up pretty tight based on the forecasts, bottled up a store of RO drinking water (tank only holds 3 gallons), and settled in for the storm, but so far it has been a disappointment. Some wind, but not much more than you’d expect from a good thunderstorm, and some rain, but I’d estimate less than 2″ in total – the river came up nicely, but isn’t even close to slopping over onto the landing. The power went out for about five mins, then popped right back on. It’s supposed to blow westerly pretty hard toward the end of things, so maybe that will do some more damage. It’s just as well really; we’ve got plenty to do without repairing storm damage…