22 February 2014

Can Spring be on the horizon?

Oh, what a difference a week can make at this time of year; the 14th and yesterday:

It was a glorious day today with hardly a cloud to be seen, blazing sun (57F) and dead calm. It begged for outdoor labors, and I fulfilled the call by continuing to eliminate the wild roses which had colonized the back corner of the walled garden. After about an hour and a half of very careful work with a pruner, but few remain for another day's work. Mr. Fuzzy is determined to tame the wilderness there and bring the space into a glory which it has never known.

Whilst struggling with the demon-thorned rose canes, I noticed the first augur of Spring: daffodils emerging from their long slumber through the cold darkness of winter. These pioneers are announcing the impending change of season in small clusters throughout the walled garden.

The temperatures  inverted on Wednesday and since then an inch of rain warmed by 56F air temperature that morning devastated the snow pack. Even on north facing slopes, only tiny traces still remain. The speed of melting was amazing and in combination with the warm rain, water was flowing in every low area. On leaving the farm Thursday, it was evident the large culvert under the driveway at the front of the farm was totally blocked, causing a lake to form and overflow the road. This was a dangerous situation because the ground was so soft the raised driveway could have given way to the water's pressure. After about twenty minutes of using a shovel to pull wet heavy clay from the pipe, the remaining plug was blown out by the water pressure. Since one before-and-after image has already been illustrated, another set seems appropriate:

With the much warmer and dry nights, the some of the felines have enjoyed spending the night i the great outdoors, hunting and scouting for interlopers. Here the night shift catches some well deserved day light shut eye:

What will the coming week bring in temperatures and weather? The National Weather Service is calling for another polar vortex to descend upon the farm with snow and night time lows in the low teens. Which reminds your author of something his Grandfather imparted to him circa 1965: "There are two sorts of fools, plain ordinary fools and those who believe the five day weather forecast." Time alone will reveal.

18 February 2014


 [Sunset last night]

Nothing has been posted for some time, not because of sloth or disregard by Mr. Fuzzy - there simply has been no occurrence worth your time in reading. That abruptly changed a week ago, however, when a near record set of storms dropped 22-26 inches of snow on Floyd county in just 36 hours. The National Weather Service in Blacksburg noted it was the third deepest single snowfall on record for both Blacksburg and Roanoke. Floyd county was the recipient of 22-26 inches; there has been no official weather reporting station in the county since 1941 so there is no data to determine the status of this within history.

  The center "bullseye" included most of Floyd County. The snowfall was so intense that all of the cats, including Buster (of Norwegian Forest Cat heritage), decided to take a two-day cat nap rather than romp in  the snow.

The first storm, the major contributor of snow, began on Wednesday afternoon and lasted until about midday Thursday. A brief respite raised false hopes then the second storm struck with substantial winds and several more inches.

[ominous sunset with the second front coming]

[my county road after being plowed by a neighbor the day before, drifted over by winds of storm #2]

Clearing the 1,700 foot driveway was a major task. The Ford 1700 tractor is small but possesses four wheel drive. However, the snow was so deep that multiple passes had to be made, skimming about 10 inches of snow at a time - otherwise it just came back over the top of the plow blade. Every fifteen feet or so, the the accumulated snow had to be pushed to the side (while being certain the tractor didn't go over the embankment with it...). Very slow going. It took about six hours to open the drive after the first storm.

After the second storm, with new accumulation and considerable drifting, there was a new problem: the
snow banks created by the first clearing prevented pushing new snow off on either side. Now the snow walls had to be skimmed THREE passes at a time and the new snow pushed off the track. At the head of the driveway, where it meets the county road, the drifting was over three feet deep - the tractor simply sat too low to clear it. Thank goodness for neighbors - the same gentleman who plowed out the country road came back to reopen it and made a short diversion onto the driveway to open the last fifty feet. Bless his heart and his diesel!

There were surely abundant photographic opportunities but Mr. Fuzzy was too worn out from snow clearing (much had to be done with a shovel around the car and the turn-around) to walk in the deep snow. Below are a few images which may be enjoyed by the reader...