Tag Archive | sub-zero temperatures

From the Deep Freeze

There has not been much to report these last few weeks.  The most popular topic of conversation is the bitter cold of mid-winter in Maine.  We have just suffered through at least three weeks with daily highs barely clearing 0F.  The coldest nights reached -20F here at the farm.  The chickens, horses and rabbits do fine in this sort of weather with proper shelter from the wind and wet.  Hens drop off laying when it’s very cold, so we only got one or two frozen eggs per day from 19 layers.

The chill is hard on wild animals, especially the song birds.  The feeders are emptied quickly.  The resident cardinal pair made sallies to eat the red holly berries from my outdoor holiday arrangement by the front door.  Cary and Kai, our year-old cats, sat for hours in the window waiting for the cardinals to show up.  All the feeding birds provide plenty of entertainment for the cats.

We’ve enjoyed several winter storms including a blizzard with 18 inches of snow four days ago.  There is now about 3.5 feet of snow on the ground.  Running the farm tractor to clear the driveway has kept me occupied.  I was also busy a week ago with a frozen washing machine drain that caused an entire load worth of soapy laundry water to dump across the bathroom floor.  The hot water supply line to the washer froze as well.  I was worried the leak was from a rupture to the pipe in the wall and was so grateful it was only waste water I had to mop up that I didn’t even mind the mess!

The great news is that the January thaw is here.  Today we hit 19F!  Tomorrow is forecast to be above freezing.  And the two days following that, the weather people say, will be in the 40s with rain.  Maybe it will warm up enough to allow the heavy snow load to slide off the roofs so we can stop the back breaking labor of roof raking.  Once the January thaw arrives, the back of winter is broken.  We will still get some chilly days and maybe even a few more Nor’easters, but the endless days of sub-zero weather are behind us.

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Ice, Deep Freeze, A Thaw and New Eggs

a

Coating of ice on every surface

So far, this winter has been trying our mettle here in Maine.  An ice storm right before Christmas deposited 1/4″ of ice on every surface, coating branches, weighing down trees and causing power outages.  Bone cracking cold followed with the thermometer plunging to 20 below zero F four nights ago.  The farm animals needed extra care that night to stay warm.  The thermometer didn’t budge beyond 4 degrees during the daylight hours for several days.

b

Newly laid Ameraucana pullet egg on right, commercial grade A large egg on left

One bright note:  on the coldest day of the winter, one of my pullets began laying and we got our first egg from the new hen flock.  It was frozen and cracked before I found it, but still made a lovely fried egg sandwich.  Another little hen has joined in, her first egg is pictured to the right.  We’ve gotten three new eggs. The pullets were on the nest when I did chores this morning, so more eggs should be waiting for me. I’ve been expecting the laying to start for nearly two months now, so the relief of no longer having to eat store-bought eggs is immense.

Yesterday, the temperatures climbed to a shocking 42 degrees and the rain poured all day.  Finally, the ice burden was relieved from the poor trees, power lines and roofs.  One’s body becomes so accustomed to the cold that 40 degrees feels tropical.

Much of the country is now dealing with an “polar vortex” that is swirling arctic air all the way into the deep South.  Brrrr.  Luckily, Maine will be spared what the Mid West is enduring, wind chills to 40 and 50 below zero.

The Jet Stream must be flowing directly over us because the endless, constant, dull roar of high level winds drills its way into the house and slowly, over the hours, drives me crazy.  Time to play some music to drown it out.

Spring, sure hope you hurry, or at least the January thaw!