River Still Hungry

We had another rainy weekend, this time with 4″ of rain in just 18 hours. Here’s what our cellar and our river looked like at the height of it:

The 2nd half is the view from our upper veranda; under normal river flow conditions we cannot see the water at all at this location.

Yesterday I ventured down the road to check on where the river had taken a large chunk of the road in the flooding a couple of week ago. It turns out that while the river did eat more road, the area is still passable (barely!).

The foreground area is newly-placed-by-DOH material. You can see that it is still settling.

Foreground rocks are new, ones in the background were dropped two weeks ago after the first road-eating flood.

Looking at the far end, notice the round impression and the upper left where a barrel was two weeks ago.

Looking back from the far end you can see the scope of the repair work the DOH-boys are doing. For scale, that’s my F150 in the background.

When they are done with the repairs, it’ll look something like this, a section they repaired several years back. It has held up quite well!

Here are some graphs of data from the USGS Cacapon River gauge downstream of us. This recent flood looks to be our largest since Hurricane Isabel in 2003 (the only time our property has flooded since we moved here in 1998).

The river since we moved here in 1998. (Note that the scale is logarithmic so the peaks are somewhat compressed.)

Isabel in September 2003

The past week; note how much higher the river was at the start of this event that it was for Isabel.

The Relentless River

Last week we had a lot of rain — 1.15″ on Tuesday, 0.78″ Wednesday, 0.97″ Thursday, 0.61″ Friday, and 0.38″ Saturday. Our river — the Cacapon — can handle 2″ or so at a time. More than that and the road floods in a number places. In addition, every so often the river decides to show the road who’s boss — either in the case of a single (post-)tropical storm, or, as in this case, a prolonged series of repeating storms:

The WV Division of Highways quickly moved to put up the cones. They also filled in the drainage ditch on the mountain side to make the remaining roadway wide enough for a single lane. Eventually (Weeks? Months? Who knows!) they will rebuild the river bank with riprap gabions. (Now ain’t that a fancy way to say rock-filled wire cages!)

And, as it turned out, we had to go to town for an appointment on Thursday. On our way out around 9 am there was a little water ponding on the road in one spot near the red barn. It was raining lightly but steadily all the way into town, and all the road-side ditches and streams were flowing robustly. We left town around around 12:30 and upon our return, and, not unexpectedly, a High Water sign was up on Capon River Road. Since the only alternatives (the road on the other side of the river, which has its own flash-flooding issues, or back down to another highway then back up to the south end of our road) would have taken an additional 45 minutes at least, I decided to give our road a shot (besides, that’s one reason I bought the new crossover with its high ground clearance last fall!).

There are 3 places of flooding that can be navigated if it is not too bad (and a 4th that, if it is flooded there then the other parts of the road are one with the river). First: down near the Bad Feng Shui House (our own term for it) we got through just fine, about 4″ I’d guess. Second: farther along the straightaway was worse (maybe 6-7″) but, again, made it just fine. Third: at the sweeping corner before the red barn, it looked deeper, but I made the choice to proceed. It was deeper than I had expected, and we made a quite unexpected, impressive, and disconcerting bow wave! The key is steady speed — any sudden changes and you get back-splash swamping. We made it, but not something I’m likely to repeat. Then, a little further on, there was a tree down across the road! 8″ trunk, but with a 5″ branch that was supporting a nice vehicle-sized triangular passageway beneath.


Happy Easter 2018!

Have friends and family over this weekend,and today we dyed eggs.

Ready to dye, using good old-fashioned liquid food coloring. We mixed up 10 different colors (though they look pretty similar in here in the cups), with rubber bands, wax crayons, paper towels and a dropper for the creative inner child in all of us.

The finished product — 24 large duck eggs and 4 small chicken eggs.

Pizza and Deer (not a typo, BTW)

So, last week, after the big first-day-of-Spring snow (we got about 6″,the deepest of the winter season), we decided to make pizza. It was a clean-out-the-fridge kind of pizza.

Step by step:

2. Local kale (needed to use the last of it)

3. Turkey breast (the last of Thanksgiving from the freezer)

5. Shredded mozzerella

6. Onion

7. Parmesan cheese, then onto the stone in the pre-heated 500 ° oven

8. 12-15 minutes of ZA TV

The finished product — it smelled a bit odd while it was baking, but it was, like all homemade pizzas, delicious!

I soon as I popped the pizza into the oven, Suddie (our current livestock guardian dog) started barking like crazy. Not too unusual, but I looked out the window, and in the dusk I a line of a half-dozen deer traipsing along the steep hillside across the road caught my eye.

Can you spot them? You’ll need to click to embiggen the pic. A hint and a zoom-in follow below.

. Scroll down for a hint

They are there in the red box

. Scroll down for a zoom-in

I count six

Here are the six I see in the pic, 2 adults and 4 youngsters (it seemed like more at the time, but there are limits when using a phone camera through the window into the woods at dusk!)

Our Mountain Doth Protecteth Us

Like most of the mid-Atlantic and New England, it is quite windy here today. In general, the winds are from the WNW at 30 mph with gusts to 55. Well, that appears to be the case up on the mountain, but not down here in the Capon Valley. You see, our house is nestled up against the east side of a mountain, so the winds are reduced and misdirected down here today.

Here is some data from my Personal Weather Station out back (click on KWVHOOKS2 over on the right in the Riversdell Weather section for more data):

On the left-hand chart you can see the difference between the predicted (and apparently actual up on the mountain) wind speed, to the right of the line, and the actual, as-measured, down-here-in-the-valley speed this morning to the left of the line. The graph on the right-hand side shows the measured wind speed as running mostly 10-20 mph with gusts up to 25. It is also interesting (well to me at least!) that the wind direction down here is mostly from the east — the WNW winds bounce over the mountain and then swirl around down here in our valley.

It is still plenty windy, though. Gigi cat went outside this morning, got hit in the face with flying leaves, and did an immediate U-turn. Glad the power is still on, but we have plenty of water bottles filled, just in case — out here, no power = no well pump.

Addition Progress
(No, it’s not done. Sigh.)

The weather got quite warm earlier this week (Over 80°! In mid-February!) so I took advantage of it to work on the addition baseboard. I am very happy with my shop layout — just open up the overhead door and roll the table saw out onto the lawn.

My baseboard design is an attempt to emulate what’s in the 1835 portion of the house without looking fussy. The jig in the photo above is for cutting the offset at the top of the baseboard where it overlaps the wallboard. This step comes after routing the groove and round-over.

The taper at the bottom makes it easier to fit around the rough concrete that accrued at the edges of floor. The electrical outlets are in the baseboard rather than the wall so they blend in better (white outlet on white baseboard).

End of a productive couple of days:

This sawdust is what’s left from cutting the taper in 13 1×8 poplar boards (8' each) and the offset/overlap notch in 8 of them — enough to complete the loft. Note the outlines of the roller stands and the drip-line from the bow window above the shop door, which lets me open the door for sawdust control even in a light rain. Once the loft closet baseboard is done I can get to wiring my loft network closet and commence with the reconfiguring and repositioning of my various and very sundry computers & routers & wifi/routers & DSL modem & telephone answering base station & UPS & NAS.

I am multitasking by also working on the pocket doors on the main floor. They are hung, but need adjustments, then paint and trim. Pics when they are done. Also, too, still working on the loft bathroom fixtures.

Weathering the Cold

Riversdell 2017 Season’s Greetings

Heat, or Lack Thereof

Last night was our coldest one yet this season (actually, this morning at 8am — the temp always dips just after dawn): 28.4 °F.
The days have been mostly warm so we have simply been opening windows during the day and shutting them at night, but this morning the main house was dipping into the 50’s, the addition the low 60’s. Time to get the heating systems ready to go!

For the addition, I simply plugged in the underfloor hydronic heat control unit. Oh, I also switched our washing machine back to tap cold auto-sense water level; over the summer I had it set to hot extra-large to use up the excess hot water we did not otherwise need.

For the main house this means cleaning the two wood stove flues. I use a set of chimney cleaning rods and 6″ round wire brush, working from the fireplace up. The rods let me get all the way to the top of the flue:

Certain Amazon boxes are the perfect size to catch the nuggets of first degree creosote (along with some bonus stink bugs).
The stovepipe has some surface rust but is still quite usable. The rods and brush are the floor.

One down, one to go!

Update: Of course, after one cleans one’s wood stove flue one must have a nice hot fire. Roy and Gigi heartily approve!

Hot Dogs on a Hot Day

Different strokes: Roy prefers the bare floor with his head on the cool marble hearth, while Bearsheba favors the time-honored splaying out directly under the ceiling fan.

The Once and Future Tomato

What would life be without homegrown tomatoes? Well, not as good as otherwise! Last year was a bad one around here for tomato crops. Ours came in late; enough to eat, but we barely had enough left over to can 7 quarts, and none for frozen pizza/pasta sauce.

I am determined to have a good crop this year. Our frost date is late May, but we were getting into the 80’s in early April, so I went ahead and bought two 4-packs of plants at a local hardware/grocery store. I went with two heirloom beefsteak-style varieties: Mr. Stripey (1800’s, mid-Atlantic, low-acid, colorful red/yellow) and Mortgage Lifter (early 20th Century, West Virginia, big-n-meaty, pink/red).

The weather stayed pretty mild so at the end of April I prepped my tomato beds — two of our five 6′ x 6′ terraced beds. First, I dumped the last of the winter woodstove ashes:

Then I added several tractor bucket loads of goat shed compost on each bed, mixed, and leveled:

Then, for several weeks, the weather, especially at night, turned chilly. It is my understanding that if tomato plants are repeatedly exposed to temps below 50 their yield will suffer the entire season. So I waited. And waited. I bought some peat pots and re-potted the root-bound plants.

Finally, in late May (admittedly, our historical frost date, but weeks and weeks and weeks after prolonged spring/summer temps), I deemed the forecast suitable for transplanting; in the background you can see the goats enjoying the bolted collards that I cleaned out of the nearby beds. I planted 4 plants per 6’x 6′ bed with landscape fabric mulch:

A month later the plants are going gangbusters. I have tied a few plants with baling twine to encourage them to grow through the “tepees” I made with short sections of cattle panels:Tomato-2017-06-19

Sunshine on my laundry makes me happy

I love the smell of laundry when it comes off the line. I know that this has to do with the disinfectant nature of the Sun’s UV rays, but I couldn’t find a more detailed scientific explanation; perhaps my Google-fu skills are a bit lacking?


Last Friday was a very nice Spring day!

Easter Eggs: The Aftermath

The food dye we used to dye our eggs seeped into some of the eggs in a most delightful way.


AfterEaster: hard-boiled eggs aplenty!

Happy Easter 2017


Late Gasp of Winter [Video]

This winter has been virtually snow-free so far. Temps have been up and down — in fact, a couple of weeks ago we had several days in the mid-70s!

But Ole Man Winter isn’t quite ready to leave just yet. An old-fashioned Nor’Easter passed over us last night dumping about 8″ of snow.

Here is what the morning chores (feeding the dogs — two indoor, one outdoor livestock guardian dog) in the lingering flurries was like: