Three feet of snow?

January 17th, 2012

The rainfall to snowfall accumulation ratio is roughly 1:12. There are many variables that can take it from 1:20 all the way down to 1:6. If we had normal January temperatures we’d have two to three feet of snow from this morning alone.

Today, January 17th, we had a sever thunder storm. Yes, a thunder storm in Indiana in January… My rain gauge broke last month when it rained several inches then the overnight low went to 20ยบ and the water froze but my bucket/valley gauge says we’ve had close to three inches in just the last hour or so. And it’s pouring right now. Actually, pouring may not be the right verb. Flushing might better sum it up. From my office window I can see a solid mass of water racing down the hill. Every flat and semi-flat spot has standing water.

Rain like this always has me out with a shovel clearing ditches, channels and paths I’ve made for the water. All in an attempt to control nature. Foolish, I know. Our property is almost all hills. I was told once that in Southern Indiana there are as many word, or terms, for how water runs as the Eskimo’s have for snow. I believe it.

«        »

“Old timer’s” signs for the upcoming winter

January 12th, 2012

The last week has been unseasonably warm. So warn in fact that most afternoons you don’t even need a jacket. It had rained a lot the first week of January. Then a long dry spell up until today. It has rained all day – tomorrow too they say. If the temperatures were more normal for this time of year we’d have had 2 feet of snow! All the “old timer’s” signs for the upcoming winter pointed to tons of snow.

  • The hardwood trees, that produce nuts as their way of reproduction, produced a bumper crop this fall. In some cases I’ve heard people say, “twice as much as last year!” It is said this is nature, or God, stocking up food for the forest critters to survive a hard winter.
  • The width of the Wooly Worm’s brown mid-section strip is another. They say the narrower the brown strip the harder the winter. The two I found were both all black!
  • The Persimmon seed embryo can be shaped like a spoon, representing a snow shovel that you’ll really need, or a knife, representing sharply cold temperatures, or a fork, which I guess means a normal winter. All the ones I split were spoons.

All these added up to me to make a winter prediction of tons of snow. So far, I’m not doing to well.

Since the weather had been very warm up until today, and there were several days without rain, the road up to the top of the ridge was dry enough to get the truck up. There are two Hickory trees that were both still standing but dead. Hickory is one of the best heat yielding woods when burned. They were killed, I guess, when a massive Red Oak fell on them four years ago. Actually the Hickories held the Red Oak up for almost a year. It took me that long to figure out how to get the Oak down safely.

We heat and sometimes cook with wood. “Dead fall” only. I’ve heard that it takes seven to ten acres of forest to provide fuel for a family with just dead fall. It also goes a long way to absorbing the carbon emitted by burning it too.

I got the first Hickory down and started cutting fireplace length pieces. The outer softer sapwood, which still seemed pretty solid from my testing before I cut the tree down, got softer the further up the tree it went. Within 12 feet, or so, the outer two to three inches were really not suitable for the inside wood stove. To “spunky.” The heartwood, on the other hand, was perfect. It seems already good and dry. Although it will still be split and stacked with next years wood.

I did end up spending more time than normal splitting it because I was splitting off that spunky sapwood. All that sapwood ended up in the outside burn stack for this spring’s Maple syrup cooking.

I like to keep four cords of split firewood stacked up drying for a year before I burn it. It burns cleaner and hotter. The woodshed I build in 2009 can hold four cords per bay. There are three bays but the East bay is for kindling and tools.

We’ve had at least an inch of rain today, perhaps two. The end of my valley always floods with over an inch in a day. The road stops the runoff from getting to Knob Creek and the water just collects. I’ve been digging ditches all over in an attempt to channel the water in a way that minimizes the erosive effects of the heavy rains we’ve been getting. I’ve had some good luck. The area I want to build a barn is in need of a good bit of ground work. Runoff is a issue there. I’ve got a new ditch in place and it’s helping but, really, I need a dump truck load of fill dirt to build it up. I don’t want a soggy barn floor!