Friday, February 26, 2010

Emerson's Snow Storm

Huge snow flakes, icy rain, dry blowing snow, mini snow tornados, roaring winds - these words only barely describe our fourth major snowstorm. This storm is befitting of a poem by Emerson.


Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,

Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,

Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air

Hides hill and woods, the river, and the heaven,

And veils the farmhouse at the garden's end.

The sled and traveller stopped, the courier's feet

Delated, all friends shut out, the housemates sit

Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed

In a tumultuous privacy of storm.

Come see the north wind's masonry.

Out of an unseen quarry evermore

Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer

Curves his white bastions with projected roof

Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.

Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work

So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he

For number or proportion. Mockingly,

On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths;

A swan-like form invests the hiddden thorn;

Fills up the famer's lane from wall to wall,

Maugre the farmer's sighs; and at the gate

A tapering turret overtops the work.

And when his hours are numbered, and the world

Is all his own, retiring, as he were not,

Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art

To mimic in slow structures, stone by stone,

Built in an age, the mad wind's night-work,

The frolic architecture of the snow.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Next Step

Our overall goal is to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and other non-green energies. We have reduced our energy needs now by approximately 30% since we moved here 3 years ago by replacing appliances, light bulbs and installing a house wide energy saver as I described in an earlier blog in Sept '09. To seize upon the still available state and federal energy rebates and grants, the time has come to investigate alternative, green energy options such as solar energy.

Our friends, Hal and Gail, recently invested in solar energy systems for their home and invited us over to learn more. John was listening more attentively, thus summarizing our visit as follows: “ To reduce (eliminate?) their reliance on utility company supplied electricity, they developed a plan with Mark Bortman of Exact Solar to install two systems: a solar thermal system to provide energy for heating water and a photovoltaic system to generate electricity. The thermal system generates preheated hot water for cleaning, showering and for their spa. If the water isn’t hot enough then ordinary house current electricity can be used to bring it to the desired temperature. Their photovoltaic system, which was installed just two months ago, consists of 16 panels that can generate up to 5 kilowatts of power per hour during the day. This energy is then inverted into AC electricity and a monitoring system reports how much energy is being produced each day as well as how much carbon dioxide is being saved by their environment friendly energy systems. Interestingly, when we saw them on a cold but sunny February afternoon they had already generated about 25 kW hours of power- approximately enough electricity to meet their needs for the day. Hal is looking forward to seeing how much electricity will be generated when the long, sunny days of summer arrive. “

The picture shows the actual installation taking place at their home.

There are both federal tax credits and state grants that can offset the cost by approximately 60%. Please see below for more information:

PA solar rebate information:

Federal solar tax credit information:

We are meeting with Exact Solar this week so we can begin to determine how to substitute green energy in place of conventional power sources from utility companies.

Monday, February 22, 2010

In the last few months, a group of concerned citizens created a food club where local consumers can purchase food from local growers and producers. By supporting such a group, it helps our local economy, our local farmers and the environment.

A fellow master gardner, Rotarian and dear friend, Jim Schmitt, had joined the group and kindly shared the information with me. I promptly joined for only $100 and I have already enjoyed the fruits of my membership which included some delicious apple cider from Solebury Farms, delicious bread from Crossroads Bake Shop (they have the best bread and Italian cookies ever) and eggs from Ricks farm. There are regular meetings and you order online biweekly, then pick up your goodies the following week, currently at The Goddard School at The Farm.

If you would like more information, visit their website at

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Winter Blues

At last we have a bit warmer weather. There is still at least 8 inches of snow on the ground but the sun feels warm, the temperature is around 40 degrees and there is an approximate 15 mph wind out of the NW. We spot a flock of bluebirds in the meadow and 2 red tailed hawks swirl past.

It is finally warm enough to take a quick peek at our bees. We trudge through the snow following what looks like a fox trail through the snow that leads directly to the hives. A couple of bees greet us from the stronger hive. They haven’t touched much of the fondant we gave them months ago, there is a large bundle of bees near the top of the second hive body and they are milling around slowly, probably dazed by the sun and cool wind. After closing that hive, we head to the second hive, where it is very quiet. We find that they are all dead. There is no honey to be found and they must have starved. We are silent and sad. They originally were our stronger hive from which we collected over 30 lbs of honey in the spring. In the fall though we noticed their numbers were decreasing and they had not collected as much honey. They will be missed.

Picture from this site:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

White on White

The snow and winds intensified later in the day during our"Blizzard" creating a white on white scene.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Winter Wonderland

After receiving almost a foot of snow over the weekend, 3 days later another snowstorm/blizzard has arrived bringing with it perhaps as much as 2 feet of snow. The area hasn’t seen this much snow since the 90’s. The snow is swirling, pelting and blowing horizontally at times.

The birds have intensified their feeding at the bird feeders as they try to endure this challenging winter. This easy food provides a way for the birds to survive and conserve energy. They especially enjoy black oiled sunflower seeds and hearts which have a high meat to shell ratio and are high in fat. Millet, nuts and thistle are also good seed choices. Suet is especially enjoyed by insect eating birds such as the red-bellied woodpeckers and wrens.