17 February 2015


After dodging the ice, snow and cold demons almost all winter, Stratheden's luck has come to an end; arctic winter has descended upon the land.

Virtually every cold front this season has come roaring into the Blue Ridge with winds up to 55 miles per hour. The house has moaned, groaned, popped and snapped whilst buffeted by these brutal assaults. The last one blew in on Valentine's evening through the next day, unceasing in battering anything standing before it and driving a light snow before it. The wind howling through the forest sounded like you were standing a few feet from a track as a train sped past - for about 20 hours.

Sunday afternoon, a new frontal assault struck with a forecast for a foot or more of snow. The high temperature was 18F, high wind warnings, and the snow was ultra-fine and light. Accumulations varied wildly even within Floyd county. A friend in Willis reported 11 inches before 10:00 p.m. but the farm had only received 5 inches when the storm broke in the wee hours of the morning thankfully.

It warmed to 26F today, seemingly balmy, and 90 minutes with the tractor opened up the 1,700 foot driveway; thank goodness for tractors, coveralls and sun glasses!  With luck, the brilliant sun will melt the snow cover to bare gravel before it sets tonight. Much of the driveway runs through the forest where little sun penetrates - and those stretches are always problematic in the winter.

The wood heat has been keeping the house warm; yes, there is also propane, but on a windy night and temperatures in the single digits, the propane is strained to keep the house comfortable. The interior humidity has been around 4% for a week now... on the really cold nights, the cats sit in the chairs facing the wood heat and soak up the radiant warmth as they dream of fat spring time mice. Mr. Fuzzy did not cut enough firewood last summer and had to rely on the generous nature of a neighbor for a small load of locust yesterday (loaded just as the new snow struck). Although the wood was cut in the summer, it isn't totally dry and burns long but without as much heat as might be desired. Nonetheless, the dogs, cats and Mr. Fuzzy are deeply grateful for the gift.

Today the stove is without fire, cooling so the ashes can be cleared before refiring it tonight.Tomorrow and the the next day are expected to be brutally cold (see graphic below). The sole experience Mr. Fuzzy has had with such a cold daytime high temperature was New year's Day of either 1978 or 1989 in Leadville, Colorado, elevation 10,000 feet when water in the loos froze solid. With good fortune, the electric power will stay on and the wood heat will allow comfort within the dwelling. We wish that you may be in comfort throughout the remaining wintertime.

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