Life on the Planet Hoth

We survived last weekend with its heavy Lake Effect snow.

I think the snowy north is awesome. I only have two–well, maybe three–concerns about the wintry weather. First I am concerned when my guys have to drive to work or school. I always feel relieved when they are safe at home. Second, I’m concerned about getting stuck in our driveway. Our driveway is incredibly fun sledding down, but I confess that I’m scared to drive up/down it in the winter. Last year, the Buggy (our Xterra) got stuck twice and we had a horrible time getting it unstuck. Third, I don’t like the power going out. However, we have a propane heater so we won’t freeze to death if it does.

I was quite anxious last Friday when the snowblower broke down when I was trying to get the driveway cleared in the midst of getting two feet of snow. The wire that propels the snowblower forward broke. When EJ got home that evening, he was able to “jerry-rig” it together so he could (mostly) clear the driveway. However, he had to pull on the wire with his left hand, while pressing down on a lever with his left elbow, while squeezing the right handle and steering with his right hand. Meanwhile, the headlight bulb had burned out so I had to walk beside him with a flashlight so he could see where to go. Then one of the blades stopped turning because a pin got sheared off. EJ stopped for the night when the controls froze.

december-10-2016-33I was worried about how we’d manage with no way to clear our driveway. But the next morning EJ was able to somehow better jerry-rig the wire and he fixed the blade. He spent several hours clearing the driveway. It was extremely difficult because he had to snowblow through at least two feet of snow. My hero!

The snowblower was fixed well enough that I was able to use it to clear the driveway on Sunday while EJ worked on other tasks. It was less difficult because we only had a few additional inches of snow. I also cleared the driveway on Monday while EJ was at work.

Once the wintry weather arrived, I put out the bird feeders. We have bears in the area and they like bird seeds and treats so we have to wait until they hibernate for the winter before we put the feeders out. I had thought that we’d see more birds when we moved to a forest, but we actually see fewer in the warmer months because they stay in the trees. However, in the cold months they are attracted to the feeders so we see more. We mostly get chickadees, nuthatches, gold finches, and four different kinds of woodpeckers: Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers, and the awesome Pileated Woodpecker, which is one of the biggest, most striking forest birds on the continent. It’s nearly the size of a crow. At one point today, I saw all four kinds of woodpecker at the feeders at the same time…but I didn’t get a photo of them.

Here is an awesome video I took this morning of two Pileated Woodpeckers at the feeder.

Yesterday an arctic wind blew into our area. Temperatures dropped down to 17 degrees and, of course, it snowed. Those were “perfect” conditions for JJ and his friend to set off the fireworks he had left over from Independence Day. EJ assisted with fire-starting implements and advice while I videoed it. At least we didn’t have to worry about dry conditions setting the forest on fire.

After they set off some fireworks, JJ and his friend went sledding down the driveway. There was a full moon last night which lit up the landscape so they could see where they were going.

Today it has been snowing quite hard. We are forecasted to get 4-8 inches of snow. Wind gusts of 25-35 mph cause wind chills of 5-15 below zero. EJ texted me from work that he encountered “ground blizzard conditions” on his way to work this morning–blowing snow that caused whiteout conditions. He said that we should not go anywhere but just hunker down inside. I checked on the ducks and chickens (they are doing fine). I found about a dozen eggs hidden in the straw! I thought the hens had stopped laying. I took Danny outside a few times. Poor Danny has been struggling with some gastrointestinal problems and wanted out quite a bit today. I tried to take videos outside, but my fingers quickly ached with the cold. I couldn’t help but think of Jack London’s story, To Build a Fire.

Here is a composite of the photos I took today. My new camera has a “hybrid” function in which I take still photos and it combines them into a combo video/photos. I’m still learning how to use the new function so sometimes the videos are a little jerky. I’ll get better. Also, at one point my camera was reflected in the window so it looks as if there is a large red camera in the landscape so please ignore that. Overall, though, the video shows what today looked like:

When the wind blows super hard like today, the pilot light on our water heater tends to go out. After it happened a couple of times last year, I asked EJ to teach me how to relight it again so I wouldn’t have to go all day–while he was at work–without hot water. The wind has been so strong that both yesterday and today I had to relight the water heater.

snow1Mostly I’m staying safe and warm inside, watching the wind swirl the heavy snow into “snow-nadoes” through our new windows. The landscape reminds me of the planet Hoth in Star Wars. Brrrr.


4 Comments on “Life on the Planet Hoth

      • It looks like it. The birds are beautiful. We are a geeky family, so we usually quote movies for reference. Hope the snowblower lasts for the season, although im sure that was a lot of snow. When we were younger, my brother and i had to shovel, dad didn’t get a snowblower until much later!


      • Oh! That is so cool! My family always quotes from movies too! It’s nice to meet another “quoting” family!

        This is our first snowblower too. When I was a child, we just had shovels. At our last house, our driveway was short so it wasn’t worth getting a snowblower. Here at our new home, a snowblower is a necessity.

        I love our birds too. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

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