Now that the grass is green, the flies are out, the sun is once again something to hide from and we're all whining about the heat, it's a little easier to step back and asses all the winter damage.
The casualty list thus far includes:
- the chainsaw
- the lawnmower (fixed now, but just barely)
- the deck
- the tractor
- the computer
- my iPod
- several trees
- a trailer tire
- the camera (it only turns on about about 30% of the time (and Shelley, if you want to know what happened, you'd best, ahem, talk to Ramsey. I really think he should explain.))
- fish, frogs and salamanders.
We're not even going to talk about my extreme frustrations with doctors, hospitals, carpenters, excavators, farriers and other assorted "experts". I've developed a bad case of expertitis, especially in regards to doctors who keep trying to kill me.
The frost went very deep and caused a lot of trouble, the roads certainly took a beating. A garbage truck tried to drive down this road a couple of weeks before I took this photo, it sank to the axle right in the middle of the road. It took a giant tow truck four hours to pull them out. This photo was taken after the worst subsided and the road was passable again...
Other than paying my taxes though, the roads are, thankfully, not my responsibility. Something I am going to have to deal with is this...
The frost got below one of the posts on my deck and heaved the whole corner, along with the other posts, up at least 9 inches. I am so disgusted and upset about this that it has taken this long for me to even be able to write about it. I vaguely recall that when this hole was dug, we hit a massive boulder at about 4 feet. I was assured repeatedly that it would be fine, nothing would move that rock and besides, "we never get winters that cold anymore".
I think I know how to fix it, but it is a difficult, dangerous, expensive job that is going to require large equipment, jacks, braces, cement and plentiful help - none of which I have. I can't bear to talk about it any more just yet. When I figure out how to tackle this project, I'll let you know. It will certainly be blog-worthy if nothing else.
Many of you will remember the catfish I put in my pond last year, I don't think any of them made it through the winter. As the ice went off the pond, they started floating to the surface. I counted fifteen and watched as the crows cleaned them up for me as soon as they appeared. I figure the crows saw the other 15 before I did. I spoke with the hatchery to find out what happened and he told me that people everywhere were reporting massive fish kills this Spring because the ice got too thick. They died from lack of sunlight and oxygen. I haven't replaced them and haven't decided if I am going to. I probably should, but I haven't found the heart for it yet.
The other notable lack in the pond is the scarcity of frogs. Oh, there are frogs to be sure, but in far, far fewer numbers then ever before and I've found NO viable tadpoles early on. There are a few making an appearance just this week, the first I have seen. Last year, there were thousands upon thousands of them in my pond. There have been plenty of eggs laid, but they never matured. I thought at first that it must be a problem with my pond, but I checked out several others and they are all the same. It's the same in the vernal puddles as well, lots of eggs that never hatch. I still hear plenty of frogs, but nothing like is has been previously and there have been many nights of silence on the pond. I don't know what it means, but I suspect the they froze as well. I find it a bit worrisome, I have always heard that frogs are a bit like canaries in coal mines.
There are also far fewer of the little salamanders that I am so fond of. In years past, I have often seen as many as a hundred of them in a single walk. I have seen fewer than a dozen so far this year. On the other hand, there are more ticks than ever. It makes me wonder how many of the horrid things get eaten by frogs and salamanders.
It's not all bad though. I've planted some new trees and the deer have only killed one so far, the lawnmower is working for the moment, I found someone else to do chainsawing, the camera does turn on 30% of the time, the computer only crashes 2-3 times a week, the ipod will still play audiobooks even if it won't do anything else anymore, I've got the tractor running again and the rest will just have to wait for me to figure something out.
I also have barn swallows raising babies in the barn, an abundance of very entertaining painted turtles thriving in the pond, a good horse, the world's greatest dog, and the joy of donkeys to liven up the world. There may be cracks in the walls, but the foundation is strong.