Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Winter wildlife

It has warmed to a balmy 18 deg F (7 C below zero). Most birds have the sense to fly south for the winter. Not so apparently with the doves.
But at least they finally seemed to discover their new coop/feeder.
Currently still in its experimental stage and I will make a more permanent arrangement if they actually continue to use it. When I first put it up they did not even notice it and did not go to it despite the bird seed I put in it. I had to take it down and set it at ground level to get them used to it. Then gradually raise it higher, thus the blocks and milk crates.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Winter possums and broken roof rakes

We rarely see the possums during the warm months, but come winter they seem to know where to come looking for food.
At first they came for the birdseed in the patio.
Now that I know they are regulars I put out some table scraps for them.
The spot under the new pigeon coop / feeder I set up makes a convenient sheltered spot in the snow storm.
Chicken bones are his favorite
After dinner he retreats under the deck to clean up and drink from the mud puddles. We can observe him from about 4 feet way through the transom window in the basement. Yes, winter makes you do silly things for entertainment, like watching possums under your deck.

After about 24 hours of snow this is the scene that greeted us Sunday morning. Wet sloppy stuff this time.
Last time I had to clear the roof I managed to brake my roof rake due to the bitter cold, and no one seemed to have a replacement.
So time for a quick repair this morning.
Tools required are a heat gun and a thin spatula
And some steel mosquito wire netting.
Cut small strips of the wire mesh, and using the heat gun and the spatula, melt the plastic and work the wire into it.
Work it in some more  and make it as smooth as I can. Not the prettiest result but I figured it would have to do at least til I can get a replacement. It actually turned out to be quite strong. I sprayed it with silicone lubricant to keep the wet sticky snow from adhering to the rough parts and it actually did the job without breaking again.

Monday, January 13, 2014

We are having a heat wave

Or as Al Gore would say "The planet is having a fever"

I say bring it on.

Three degrees feels positively balmy after the ungodly temps we have been getting around here.
24 hours of slop, rain, and rising temps brought down the snowbanks a bit and left a mess of ice. Perfect time for a bit of grilling.
So I fired up the hibachi. The torch is the best way to do this and no need for charcoal starter fluid to make your food taste funny.
After about 8 minutes coals are going strong so I pull the chimney off, spread the coals and let the grill and hibachi heat up well, and the coals get a good glow going.
Pound and a third of oiled and salted swordfish and the last of this summers cherry tomatoes go on.
Flip them over after about 4 minutes and let them rip for an other 3 minutes
Serve with rice and a side salad. Nothing like some mid winter grilling. Yes the price on the swordfish is not cheap at 11 $ a pound, but it is far cheaper than going out to a restaurant as you would drop 65$ for a meal for two like this around these parts.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Hen's teeth

Not seen for four? five? years
Got the last one of two bulk boxes on the shelf.
Meanwhile outside . . .  more of the so called "POLAR VORTEX" . . .  and this the cerebral pygmies on TV tell me is due to Global Warming.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Oh let me tell you the ways . . .

That winter can get on your nerves.
After something like 36 hours of straight snow and 8 degrees below zero F (that is like 25 below zero for you metric folks) the skies cleared long enough to bundle up, go outside and clear the mess.
Shovel the entryway deck clear
and cut a path out to the barn.
And while Annie finishes clearing the deck
I fire up the snow blower and try to keep the wind from driving the snow back on to my face obliterating my view though my glasses.
Got halfway through the job when
The clutch cable on the blower lets go.
 So I string up the machine on the I beam in the Garage
and remove the bottom guard plate on the machine . . . .
only to find that in addition to the broken clutch cable the shear bolt between the drive sprocket and the axle is also broken off.
This happens about 3 or 4 times a season despite it being a grade 8 bolt. So I try to recenter it to punch out the now captive middle piece jammed in the axle.
I usually keep a few on hand but now I cant find any, so I need to go to the hardware store.
but I find the door handle on the driver side of my truck has decided to break and will not open the door . . . oh well climb in the passenger side and open it from that side.
off to the hardware store as I drive past First St.
On to Rt 1, where it seems the sun is finally attempting to make an appearance after something like 3 weeks in hiding.
I get the needed bits at the hardware store and make my way back home only to get stuck in deep snow for about 5 minutes of slipping and spinning.
Back on to Maple Ave looking a bit claustrophobic with the high snow banks
and make it home safely
Fire up the wood stove not so much to warm the garage as at 8 bellow you'd need a jet engine to warm it up, but having a hot stove going helps thaw stuck bolts from you fingers.
and start assembling the bits to make a new clutch cable.
A bit of fiddling and some cursing
and we have a successful crimp
and after 20 more minutes of fussing looks like I have something I can use to replace the broken clutch cable.
half an hour fiddling with the tiny chain links and its in.
Pretty smart if I do say so myself . . . the chain link was an unusual spark of brilliance
Then I drill out the axle shear pin hole for a bigger diameter grade 8 bolt to see if we can keep the bastard from breaking again.
and the new bolt in place
Finish clearing the driveway, the patio and the paths around the house and barn
and start raking the snow off the roof.
and shovel all now hard packed snow I raked off the roof from the deck.
My work is finally done... as I strip my boots and coveralls in the unheated mud room the moisture freezes on the glass.
At least the pigeons are happy
Until they get all wigged out by something or other and a bunch of them scatter. If you will note the red plastic bottle filled with corn has a nylon fishing line attached to it. The line goes from the kitchen window, to the bottle, around the steel pipe and back to the window. This rig I use to spook the squirrels away from the bird seed when they come and hog it all.