The severe arctic system that froze much of America managed to reach its icy tentacles as far south as Stratheden Farm. The temperature at sunrise last Tuesday was -5F, and felt colder because the wind had blown all night. Thanks to careful preparation, the structures suffered no known damage. However, the Saturday before, the temperature had suddenly dropped to +9F, which doesn't seem so terrible but the wind that night was gusting to over 40 mph and the electricity went out from about 2:30 a.m. until around 5:00 a.m. Alas, that meant the small electric heater which heats the mechanical room to about 40F in the winter was not functioning and sure enough, the copper pipes froze and burst in four places. +9F with gale winds proved enough to freeze the heated dog bowl into a solid glacial mass with beautiful tiny ice crystals on the surface like skaters on a miniature ice rink.
Stratheden's plumber came arrived within an hour of the distress call and replaced said burst copper pipes with PEX, which should never suffer the same fate. Mr. Fuzzy acted as his assistant (the difficulty of moving in the mechanical room demands an assistant free to move outside of the appliances). Now Mr. F. came down with (probably) the flu on new Year's Day but was making a good recovery. Four hours in 10F gusty air was enough to set him back into negative territory. It was cold enough that Buster, who rarely spends any time inside during the daylight hours, did not venture outdoors for three days but stayed by the fire.
Both of those frigid air masses blew out as rapidly as they arrived for which all living things were grateful. This morning the low was 32F but rainy and foggy. The thermometer rose all day and even now after dark, has yet to retreat. Tomorrow is forecast to reach 55F but rain once again. To be honest, Mr. Fuzzy and neighbors are content for it to rain as long as it remains above freezing. Thus far, no snow has fallen, for which we are thankful although it is the major source of nitrogen replenishment of the soil so several wet snows that wished no to linger would be appreciated.
The rain and fog today reminded Mr. Fuzzy of one of the days spent in Scotland last October. Whilst motoring from Edinburgh to the Borders, a short detour from the direct route was taken in order to visit Snailholm Tower. Sir Walter Scott's grandparents owned Sandyknowe Farm there when he was young. His health was deemed fragile from is bout with polio (1773) and it was considered that the clean fresh air of the country was more healthful than the smoky capitol city's air. Scott credited the tower as one of the reasons he acquired such an interest in Scottish antiquity.
Mr. Fuzzy fervently hopes that this digression will be forgiven by the reader; perchance the reader will also find pleasure in these views of Snailhome and its immediate environs.