I am so excited to share with my few remaining loyal readers that we just got much faster Internet service! Our 'high-speed' company had apparently oversold their bandwidth, or at least was adding users who wanted complex service faster than they were updating their equipment. Calling didn't help, and we just wailed in the evenings, when everyone in our area was probably also trying to stream a movie or surf the web, or take an online class, or simply catch up on their blogging and Facebooking. Well, in the middle of February, DD came to stay with us for a while (long story, not for the blog), and she had been using ATT's UVerse with much better success. She convinced me to switch, and last night was our 'hook-up' time... and it really IS much, much faster.... bye bye to the non-responsive company. I am crossing my fingers, but this certainly should lead to more frequent blogging, as creating this post has been soo much easier!
That means I can at least quickly catch you up to how we are doing following the Northern California Snowpocalypse. A week ago, we left school early because it was snowing heavy, and roads were quickly filling up... we awoke Friday morning to no power and over two feet of snow! It kept right on snowing, through the day and into Saturday, leaving us with over three feet of fine powder! This is not the usual kind or amount of snow we get at our elevation... snowshoes were required, trails needed to be dug, and our cars were even snowed in!
Here's a photo of our house late Saturday afternoon, with the sun breaking through the beautiful clouds, and much of our roof having its snow slid off. Fabulously beautiful, isn't it? What you don't see is that the temps dropped to about 16 degrees the following morning! We still didn't have power, but are pretty adaptable.
For those who follow my Sustainable Sunday posts, I am happy to point out that redundant systems really do work! We have three ways to generate heat, and the same number of ways to cook. We use propane mainly for both, but there are back-up systems to cover failure in an area, such as extended outages. We even were gifted with a generator, which is useful to circulate the heat from the other sources when the electric is gone.
We are also fortunate to have spring-fed water, which doesn't require power to get to us; I would like to work on a back-up water system for 'just in case'.
This is more snow at once than most of my neighbors could remember, and certainly the most we had experienced since buying Slate Range Camp back in 1998. We ended up needing to shovel off the roof of the rental mobile unit on Sunday, which took about 10 human hours and four people. We were very sore, tired and even a little sunburnt! Storms in the Sierras are so beautiful, especially when they are followed by skies like the one in the photo.
This photo also gives you some idea of how big our project was, and why there wasn't much in the way of knitting to show for being snowbound.
Sunday was also the day DH finally got the tractor running and started moving some of the snow out of the way. He had done all his prep ahead of time, but the low temperatures had taken their toll, and it was harder to turn the enging over. He ended up needing to use generator power and re-charge the battery, then a small camp stove under the diesel oilpan, in order to get the beast started.
Such a heartwarming sight... a man and his tractor!
We did suffer a lot of tree damage, the sheltering porch roof over the donkeys' barn collapsed Friday night, and one of the old rafters in the house porch also cracked and will need repair, but overall we weathered our region's severe weather event well!
The weather shifted away from cold, and right on into wet by yesterday, with lots of blowing rain. We were happy for those few bright and sunny days, in order to restock the larder and prepare for the next round!
There has been knitting (though no FOs) and jewelry-making over the past month, and lots of reading. Below is an example of the Four Seasons Tree of Life pendant that I am making, though I haven't gotten good enough photos for Etsy yet. I have also made several special order Family Tree pendants, using family birthstones.
There is a special project that got a lot of my attention on last Friday's snow day where we were all huddled inside next to the woodstove.... planning for the summer gardening!
I have let some of my dear friends in on my secret, and decided to include all my loyal readers before making an 'official' announcement; I have been steadily planning to plant a quarter acre of natural dye plants and start a small CSA! I am really excited and also a little scared about this venture. It will be a challenge to grow to a commercial scale, but will also allow me to generate some income while following two of my passions. I am planning for four shipments from harvest season beginning in August 2011 into March 2010, and will be including foraged dyestuffs as well. I am so very lucky to live in a rich natural environment which also provides support for artists and farmers! I have gotten support and encouragement and spent the day mapping out my planting and gathering calendar. There will be much more news on the blog over the spring, as well as construction of a separate website, so stay tuned!