Maine Farmhouse Journal

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Finally, Some Snow!

January 13 - 16, 2000

The First "Real" Snow Storm

I should be careful what I wish for - or at least willing to accept the consequences when the wish comes true. After all my whining about brown fields and frozen ground (see "Years End at the Farmhouse") I had no reason to complain that the first real snow storm of the winter happened to coincide with our planned trip to the Farmhouse. The trailer was loaded high with furniture from the dining room and living room, plus boxes of dishes and a new bed frame for one of the guest bedrooms. Penny and I had been packing dishes and moving stuff to the garage all week. I packed everything into the trailer in the wind and the cold on Wednesday evening, so that we'd be all ready to leave as soon as work was over on Thursday. The weatherman was predicting light snow for Thursday, so I double-tarped everything on the trailer - just in case the prediction was true and the roads were a little sloppy. We were looking forward to an easy crossing and a nice, white blanket of snow at the Farmhouse.

Our world Thursday morning was white, and the TV weather cheerfully predicted 3-5 inches of snow before the storm quit. The Northway (I-87) was a parking lot when I drove up to the on-ramp to go to work on Thursday, and so were the alternate routes. Things didn't look good for the commute. When I called the office, I learned that one of my co-workers, who lives north of us, had taken 1 1/2 hours to drive in, and several others had opted to work at home rather than spend 1/3 of their day sitting in traffic. I decided that this was probably the best thing to do, and spent most of the day on the phone and in front of the computer. Finally, about noon the snow abated, and we were able to pack up the dogs and got on the road about 3 PM.

My grand theory was that the plows would have all the roads open. The storm was moving south, and Boston was predicted to get 6-12 inches of snow. Since we didn't want to contend with both commuting traffic and snow, we opted to avoid the Mass Pike. The northern route across Vermont and New Hampshire is more interesting, anyway.

The trip over the mountains of Vermont was an experience! The roads were slippery and sloppy, and the trailer soon became encrusted with a thick layer of snow and ice. Going over the two mountains between Bennington and Brattleboro was tough going - not so much climbing to the top as the controlled skid on the way down the other side. As you crest the mountain between Bennington and Wilmington, there is a very steep and winding downhill (complete with truck escape ramp), which ends in a sharp turn and a narrow bridge at the bottom. That was a 2nd gear, go slow exercise, hoping the whole while that the trailer stayed behind the car where it is supposed to. Hogback Mountain, west of Brattleboro, was another white knuckle descent. All in all, it took 6 1/2 hours for the trip, and I was so exhausted when we got to the Farmhouse that we just parked the trailer, ice and all, in the barn to be dealt with later.

The snow started Saturday night
and lasted till noon Sunday

In passing through Concord, NH, a local radio station announced that they had received their first measurable snow from this storm this year. It had been 304 days since the last measurable snow - some sort of a new record! We found that Concord was just about as far east as the storm came - from there east to the Farmhouse, there was no trace of any snow on the ground at all. Later the weather channel talked about a large high pressure area over the Maritimes that has been keeping the weather mild and snowless this year so far. However, things were changing, and we could expect the rest of January and February to be colder and snowier than usual. And, true to their word, it started to snow on Saturday evening and continued through mid-day on Sunday - we picked up about 6 inches of nice, light, fluffy snow - a sight for sore eyes!

I get to use the "new"
snowblower for the first time

On an earlier trip, we'd hauled up a used snowblower I'd bought for the winter. Up to this time, it had only been taking up space in the barn. It was nice to be able to use it to clear out the walkway to the porch and around the car. It wouldn't have taken much to clear the driveway either, but Alan had already come through with his plow to open things up and it didn't really need it.

The new side porch roof will
keep the snow off our necks

Just before Christmas, Paul had completed the roof to the little side porch at the mudroom entry. Last year we had to contend with snow and ice sliding off the metal roof of the carriage house onto our heads. There was a two foot ridge of ice to climb over to get into the house all winter as well. (see "Setting Up Housekeeping") Now we have a roof over our heads when we come into the house, and a choice of a ramp or stairs to get up on the porch. Quite an improvement - but not nearly as exciting as dodging the snow "whumping" off the roof.

Finishing Work

Over the holidays, I helped Paul unload his molding equipment, planers and saws, into the office and the shipping room. There he has temporarily set up a woodworking shop to turn out finish work. He'd made up jigs and made samples of the wainscotting, doors, and other trim details for the office, mudroom and pantry. Paul was home for the weekend, so Penny and I looked over the samples and talked with him on the phone to go over the various choices.

Paul has turned the office
into a woodworking shop

The office wainscotting
will look nice

The wainscotting in the office is going to look nice, along with the Christian panel doors he has made. The bead board trim for the pantry will need a little modification to fit what Penny has in mind, but not much. The mudroom will have an access door to pass groceries into the pantry, and is going to really look sharp! All in all, Paul has captured the style that we've been talking about - we're very lucky to have him working with us on this project. We've known Paul for a number of years, and he's done work for most of the family - so he and Marilyn are really part of the family, rather than just a contractor.

Penny and I went out on Saturday and picked out door handles, floor tile for the mudroom, light fixtures, paint and stain. A busy day, but Paul now has what he needs to finish the carriage house. He plans to have all of it done by our next trip up in February.

With Penny's help I finished running the cabling to the first floor terminals from the control panel in the attic. All we lack is having the system connected to each of the terminals and the panel, and Dave will start on that phase of the work in the next week or two. I've installed 14 cable runs, so that there will be telephone, computer LAN, stereo and video access in most every room in the Farmhouse. There are also two fiber optic bundles to each terminal, but these will stay "dark" until fiber becomes available at some point in the future. Once things are up and running, I'll tell you a little more about the system.

Running the cabling took most of Sunday, and we didn't get on the road until nearly supper time. However, the snow storm had passed, and the roads were cleared. Even Dyke Mountain Road was clear and sanded! It was another long, cold passage across NH and Vermont, but much less stressful than the one coming. All in all, it was a very busy and productive weekend.

Allen and Penny Crabtree

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Last updated January 26, 2000