Sunday, March 23, 2008

Packing up

Henbogle is moving!

No, we're not departing our beloved coop, we are moving Henbogle blog to WordPress. You can find the new and possibly improved blog here: Please come and find us!

Friday, March 21, 2008

A new snowfall record for Caribou, Maine

Caribou, Maine celebrated the first day of spring by setting a new snowfall record overnight during a strong winter snowstorm. The National Weather Service reported the snowfall total at 183 inches as of last night with more snow and a blizzard warning today. For the divisionally challenged, 183 inches is 15+ feet of snow. The previous record of of 181.2 inches of snow was set in 1955.

As if this wasn't enough, yesterday Caribou set a record for the amount of snow received in one day, 10.6 inches. This breaks the previous record of 9.5 inches set in 1971.

I used a photo from the live webcam at the Crown of Maine website. Click for updated photos of downtown Caribou. More webcam images of the Aroostook area are available through the weather site Wunderground.

While I enjoyed the few years I lived in Aroostook County, I don't miss those winters at all --I'm happy with my zone 5 climate, thank-you. On the map, you'll see Caribou in very far northern Maine. I used to live in Presque Isle, just a few miles south of Caribou. I now live about a 4 1/2 hour drive south of there, not too far from Brunswick.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Hooray! Spring is here....

I know it is very wintry outside today in Maine (snow sleet & freezing rain, anyone?) but the astronomical facts are clear: It is the first day of Spring! Congratulations all 'round for surviving another winter.

The bare muddy spots of yard, the muddy driveway edges, the muddy dog, the muddy chickens, all point to one thing -- Spring. I've even felt my unusually dormant gardening urge stirring to life of late -- soon, I'll have my vegetable planting list complete, and then the garden plan, and by next weekend, the seed starting cart will be set up in the laundry room (I hope.)

Enjoy the longer days, lengthening know until June, when the cycle reverses itself. I know I'll be spending as much time outside as I am able too.

Monday, March 17, 2008

More signs of spring

There are ever-increasing patches of bare ground in the backyard, mostly near the sugar maple and flowering crab trees, and along the path to Henbogle coop. The snow is still thigh deep in other areas, alas.

The garden shed, surrounded by thigh-deep snow. Note the white garden gate to the left.

Dog hair from Fisher, stuffed into the gate to be available to birds for nest-building. We cleaned out the nest boxes on Sunday, and were scolded by a cheeky tufted titmouse, probably one of the 2 broods last year to be hatched in that nest box. We decided to make good by bringing out some Fisher fur saved from his last lion-look grooming.

Pippi, looking suspiciously at the camera. Is that a treat? Home sick from work with Dan's bug today, I looked out the window this morning to see Pippi out of the hen-pen, perched on the snow. On went my new boots, and I was off to catch a chicken. Fortunately, Pippi recognized the bowl in my hand as a treat container, and hop-flapped her way over to me. Back into the pen she went to share the leftover pasta with the other chooks.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Signs of spring

Although it was a dreary gray day today, I saw sure signs of spring.

A pileated woodpecker busily working on the dead tree next door. (click photo to enlarge)

Tulips peeking up in the foundation bed behind the house.

Muddy boots in the muddy chicken yard.

My birthday present in action. This will be the ONLY vacuum cleaner I will ever request as a gift. It sucks up the leaves, and chops them up, ready to compost. This will be perfect in the perennial gardens, where the leaves get caught in the shrubs.

Spring is on the way....

Even green fuel can be a killer

I wish I could say I was surprised, but no, I'm not. It turns out the green fuel, or bio fuel, revolution taking place here in this country isn't so green after all. As usual, it all comes down to greed. It is cheaper to dump bio fuel by-products than to dispose of them safely. The New York Times reported earlier this week on the illegal dumping of fuel production by products, including a tanker dumping glycerin in Missouri.
an anonymous caller reported [to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources] that a tanker truck was dumping milky white goop into Belle Fountain Ditch, one of the many man-made channels that drain Missouri’s Bootheel region. That substance turned out to be glycerin from a bio-diesel plant.

In January, a grand jury indicted a Missouri businessman in the discharge, which killed at least 25,000 fish and wiped out the population of fat pocketbook mussels, an endangered species.

Apparently Times Beach has receded from the memory of this Missourian, or more likely, he's the moral equivalent of W.

When I bought my car (Pontiac Vibe) in 2003, I researched extensively trying to find the best combination of fuel economy, safety, reliability and model that would meet our needs. I really debated about purchasing a diesel VW Jetta Wagon, hoping to run bio-fuel in it, but decided against it. My car at the time, a VW Golf, was only slightly more reliable than a Yugo, which did not inspire hope for reliability in the Jetta, and bio-fuel was still scarce in Maine at the time. Reading this story, I'm glad I opted for the Vibe, which gets good mileage, especially once I remove the snow tires, (35+mpg hgwy) and is utterly and completely reliable.

As for the polluters, time to make toxics dumping subject to the death penalty, and increase the fines and criminal penalties for businesses guilty of dumping, such that the business and its trustees are bankrupted. (Since my first choice is a firing squad, this seems like a compromise.)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

At last, Saturday

Finally, Saturday arrived after a hideously over-busy week at work. Tuesday included a lecture on atmospheric chemistry followed by a lighting demonstration. The display used an array of 100 100 watt bulbs to visually depict global energy use. Most nations use the equivalent of 40 bulbs (4,000 watts) per person; 20 bulbs – (2,000 watts) is the current world average energy use; the poorest nations, such as Eritrea, Haiti, Myanmar, Congo use 5 bulbs per person (500 watts or less). The US uses 100 bulbs per person (10,000 watts). It was interesting, and theoretically would have been visible to outer space but for heavy cloud cover.

Dan has had the flu, so I made some chicken soup Wednesday. Loaded with veggies, it hit the spot, and provided enough leftovers for him to have something nutritious to eat for the rest of the week while I was super busy at work.

Friday I collapsed after my big event, but today we went shopping at Maine Department store Reny's where I picked up an antidote to mud season --pink and green plaid boots. I am sure the chickens will be impressed; I think I'll go and show the girls the new boots now.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Chemical contaminants in Maine's wild birds

Maine's Biodiversity Research Institute released results of a study yesterday which found over 190 chemical contaminants present in 23 species of birds studied across the state.

The highest level of contaminants were found in birds from the southern coastal region, but contaminants were found even in birds that feed many miles offshore and birds from more remote regions of the state.
Flame retardants (PBDEs), industrial stain and water repellants (PFCs), transformer coolants (PCBs), pesticides (OCs), and mercury were found in all 23 species of birds tested. The bird species studied live in a variety of habitats: on Maine’s ocean, salt marshes, rivers, lakes and uplands.

“This is the most extensive study of its kind to date and the first time industrial stain and water repellants were discovered in Maine birds,” says report author senior research biologist Wing Goodale.

Although there was some good news, in that the presence of banned chemicals like PCBs and DDT, are lower, overall this is sad news for Maine wildlife and Maine people.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

He's a real party boy

Photos from the big par-tay

A customized card from Michelle & Bill --note the power tools :-)

Wearing his new coveralls, Kyle shows off his old coveralls

King for a day

A mighty wind snuffed the 19 candles

It takes a village to raise a child, and the villagers came to the party to celebrate with cranberry punch, chocolate-orange cake, and homemade dulce de leche ice cream.

Even Ocho attended, with Bill B providing seating.

Showing off the LED flashlight in his new Swiss Army emergency pocket tool kit.

Look at that grin!

Kyle hugging his dad after Dan's toast to Kyle

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Happy Birthday Kyle!

Kyle at age 1 --look at that strawberry blonde hair.

Kyle in our wedding party (far right) at age 11

Kyle with Dan vacationing on Cape Breton, age 12

Kyle age 12, the second winter in the house, when we got 18" of snow over Christmas

Kyle with an eel he caught in the Kennebec River at the town landing, age 13

Kyle with his new mountain bike at Christmas, age 13

Pastry Chef Kyle, making Christmas cookies, age 13

With the final product

Kyle ice fishing, age 15

Kyle age 16, with birthday chainsaw from his mother, modeling his safety gear from Dan and I

Kyle age 16, with the 1972 John Deere snowmobile he refurbished

Age 17

Kyle in Dan's kayak, age 17

Kyle in his new kayak, age 17

Happy 18th birthday! We love you!!

Look for more photos tomorrow after the party.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Feed the bugs, and the birds will thrive

I just read about an interesting new book in the NY Times, written by a University of Delaware entomologist Douglas Tallamy. Bringing Nature Home outlines the native plants needed to provide habitat for native insects that native birds depend upon for survival. It looks like a good resource for gardeners.

Wintry mix

The remnants of Wednesday's storm. I heard this morning that more is on the way for Friday night and Saturday.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Yet more wintry mix

Another school cancellation for Dan today, the result of an overnight snow/sleet/rain/freezing rain storm that left a thick layer of ice everywhere, and had people scrambling to get roofs shoveled and or inspected. At least 2 schools in Maine have canceled classes due to concerns about roof snow loads. (Don't get me started on the topic of flat-roofed buildings in snow country.)

Will this winter ever end? I'm finding it really hard to get motivated to get garden planning, even though I should be planting peppers and onions right now.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


Saturday's pizza was so good, I made more today. The microhood works great, I didn't set the smoke detectors off yesterday or today. Whoo hoo!

Pesto Potato with Parmesan

Another Pesto Potato, Artichoke Hearts and Roasted Red Pepper, and Linguica Sausage

Pesto and Parmesan.

Sunday Snow Report

We never did get a snowfall total for the March 1 storm. By the time the snow slowed down, it was 40°F and the snow had significantly compacted into a sodden, heavy mass. It snowed all day, though, slowing considerably late in the day, but flakes were still drifting down when our friends Bill and Michelle headed home post-pizza a little after 9 pm.

We shoveled in the afternoon Saturday, enough to get by, and today in the sunshine, batted clean-up. There was a chilly breeze, but the March sun really warmed things up. Spring is clearly on the way, snowstorms be damned.

The girls were very happy to have the snow removed from the yard around Henbogle coop, and even happier to see the big plate of leftover pasta, fried rice, and aging spinach we brought.

We have a LOT of snow. Temps today and yesterday were in the high 30°-40° F and the snow is melting quickly but it is still amazingly deep even in the yard. We've given up shoveling the deck off, we have no where to put the snow. We just keep a path to the door cleared.

In the photos on the left above and to the right, this is the path between the 2 new garden beds I planted last summer. Hard to imagine now, isn't it?

In the front yard, Dan is atop the snow filling the front yard feeder, which normally is level with his head. The snow he is standing on is another lovely perennial garden, buried under 3 feet of snow.

We noticed that the heavy snowbanks have snapped several of the lower branches off the spruce in the front yard (you can see a few of the branches framing Dan in the photo). That tree gives the front yard some privacy, and more importantly, shields the house from the glare of the streetlight. I hope that we don't lose too many more branches from this poor tree. I sure hope this is the last big snow of the season.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

In like a lion

Here's hoping the old adage about March is true, in like a lion, out like a lamb, as here at Henbogle it is snowing hard at 8:50 am, and the NWS forecast is calling for 5-9 additional inches today atop the 3" or so that fell overnight. Sigh. I am so DONE with winter and snow, but apparently the message has yet to be received by the weather gods. The snowy winter is really feeding my unreasonable longing for a greenhouse.

The girls are out in the hendome. They weren't too happy about the snow on the ground, but the lure of treats was too strong to resist. The other day Dan came upon a bale of hay fallen from a truck, and stopped to bring it home for the girls. He threw the bale in the dome and they are in hen heaven. We'd intended to stop by the feed store and buy a bale Sunday, but mis-timed it and the store was closed, so the girls had to do without. Scratching through the bale and eating the seeds gives them something to do and keeps them happy. This morning I threw a couple of handfuls of scratch into the hay and they'll be occupied happily for some time.

On my way back to the house I refilled all the bird feeders. I'd say at this point we've gone through about 125 lbs of sunflower seed, and 15 lbs of thistle seed. It is money well spent, feeder bird watching is more entertaining than cable tv anyday. I find the upside down finch feeder especially amusing. Some of the finches, and even a few chickadees, figure it out right away, but there are always a few who never do get the idea.

Well, time to make some pizza dough, I think tonight will be an excellent night for a big pizza feed. As I nearly always manage to set the smoke detectors off when I make pizza, it's time to test out the new microhood and see how good a job of smoke removal it does. Once I get the dough made, it will be time to buckle down and make some decisions about what seeds I will be ordering. I've been a quivering blob of indecision, but it is more than time to get off the pot, as they say, or I'll be SOL when order fulfillment time comes around!