LOCAL VIEW -Hurricane Joaquin-Updated Wednesday morning

It is hard to get properly alarmed about hurricanes any more. Sooner or later we will get clobbered, and no matter how much warning is done before hand, the storm will be reported as coming either “without warning” or “with little warning.”

For what it’s worth, here is a warning I wrote for WUWT in 2012, which contains quotes from an earlier warning I wrote for Accuweather in 2006:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/08/21/hurricane-warning-mckibben-alert/

After so many years of warning people, I feel like a hybrid cross between Chicken Little and The Boy Who Cried Wolf.  “The Chicken Who Cried Wolf”, perhaps.

I’m sick of it. I’m done with it. The simple fact of the matter is, it is too late. All you can do is rush out and buy some milk, along with all the other freaked-out people, if Hurricane Joaquin turns out to be “The Big One”.

It probably won’t. It will probably turn out to sea. Hurricane’s usually do, which is what breeds the sense of complacency, and even invulnerability.  Just before the 1938 hurricane completely trashed New England a college professor, professing to be an authority, announced that “hurricanes could not hit New England”, (for some reason it is best we forget). In that case a major hurricane hadn’t hit New England in over a hundred years. And, as it hasn’t been a hundred years since the 1938 hurricane, Joaquin probably won’t hit us.

If it does hit us, it will follow these three steps. One, it will mill about to our south, growing strong. Two, it will turn north and, still strengthening, start to take the characteristic accelerating path to the northeast and out to sea. And Three, “without warning” it will, accelerating even more, hook back to the northwest and clobber New England.

The amount of time the public will have between step 2 and step 3 will be around six hours. As you go to bed the late night news will be reporting the hurricane is heading out to sea, and when you awake the winds already will be rising. I’m convinced that, given the correct set of circumstances, not even the billions spent on satellites and computer models make all that much difference. (It might be interesting to plug the information we have concerning the 1938 hurricane, or Hurricane Carol in 1954, into our modern computers, and see if they recognized the threat 12 hours before New England got pummeled.)

When young I walked woods where all the rotting tree trunks lay in the same direction, and have seen those trunks slowly rot away, until now you can barely make out a long line of moss where the trunk once lay, and a low pile of stones where the roots once were torn from the earth. The forest is now full of pines over sixty years old. It is hard to believe the entire woods was flattened in a single hour, by Carol.

Some of those woods are now full of houses. I’m tired of coming across as an old crab, telling people their idyll is doomed. They worked long and hard to come up with the down-payment, and continue to work long and hard to come up with the mortgage payments, and the doom might not come in their lifetimes. Who needs some chicken crying wolf?

Of course, doom might come next Monday. But in that case it is likely too late to do much more than buy milk, ice, (and toilet paper. Don’t forget the toilet paper.)

I myself have a generator, plenty of containers that will hold plenty of gas, and a wood stove I can cook on, and firewood, and pigs and goats to feed the neighbors with, after their milk goes sour when their coolers run out of ice.  (But I’m not sharing my toilet paper. One has to draw the line somewhere.)

So I am just going to sit back and watch, to see if Joaquin heads out to sea or not. This post will contain updates, (and also poetry, which some flee from faster than they do hurricanes).

Hurricane Joaquin 2 HUIR(5)20151001 satsfc

(Click maps and pictures to clarify and enlarge.)

Currently the stationary front would seemingly protect the east coast. The problem is that low off Florida. If that digs into the upper atmosphere it can change the “steering currents,” and a hurricane headed safely northeast out to sea can back to the northwest.

To the south again lurks the hurricane
Making mockery of idyllic palms,
Balming breezes, and sweet rum that calms pain
Served by babes in grass skirts. Instead a bomb’s
Hidden in the wrapping paper. The south
Holds no mercy for the north’s limping troops.
Poison brims the bloom sipped by the bee’s mouth.
Youth tastes time and grows gray and stoops.
Low moaning’s in the music, a background
Full of ominous portents of doom.

Is this then the harvest? The crop found
By one who bouquets the wrong sort of bloom?
Love we should sow, but the world is insane
And builds on a beach before a hurricane.

MONDAY MORNING

Hurricane Joaquin 1002 HUIR

500 AM EDT FRI OCT 02 2015

...EXTREMELY DANGEROUS JOAQUIN MOVING SLOWLY NORTHWESTWARD AS IT
BATTERS THE CENTRAL BAHAMAS...
...HURRICANE CONDITIONS TO CONTINUE OVER THE CENTRAL BAHAMAS
TODAY...


SUMMARY OF 500 AM EDT...0900 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...23.3N 74.7W
ABOUT 20 MI...35 KM NE OF CLARENCE LONG ISLAND BAHAMAS
ABOUT 50 MI...80 KM SSW OF SAN SALVADOR
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...130 MPH...215 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NW OR 315 DEGREES AT 3 MPH...6 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...935 MB...27.61 INCHES

Hurricane Jiaquin 1002B uv900_swath_nest3__2_(1)

Notice how the model swings it back towards New England before curving it out to sea. That makes a fellow nervous.

AFTERNOON MAP

It is still just sitting down there, nudging ever so slightly north. 20151002 satsfc

SUMMARY OF 800 PM EDT...0000 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...24.3N 74.3W
ABOUT 25 MI...40 KM NNE SAN SALVADOR BAHAMAS
ABOUT 795 MI...1280 KM SW OF BERMUDA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...125 MPH...205 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NE OR 40 DEGREES AT 7 MPH...11 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...943 MB...27.85 INCHES

I’d hate to be holed up in the central Bahamas right now. Sustained winds of 125 mph, and Joaquin is only slowly crawling away. At least in New England a hurricane comes plowing through at top speed, and is in and out before you really know what has hit you.  The 1938 hurricane was moving at over 50 mph when it clouted New England, but Joaquin is only moving at 7 mph.  By the time it finally moves away they won’t have a palm tree left. God help them.

At least it is moving NE, away from land.

SATURDAY NIGHT UPDATE 

...EXTREMELY DANGEROUS HURRICANE JOAQUIN CONTINUING NORTHEASTWARD
TOWARD BERMUDA...


SUMMARY OF 1100 PM AST...0300 UTC...INFORMATION
-----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...28.0N 68.9W
ABOUT 385 MI...620 KM SW OF BERMUDA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...130 MPH...215 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NE OR 50 DEGREES AT 20 MPH...31 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...944 MB...27.88 INCHES

Now is when the hurricane starts to accelerate harmlessly  (unless you live on Bermuda) out to sea, and everyone goes to bed unsuspecting. The “Big One” will shock people with a very different forecast in the morning, but that only happens 1% of the time.  Sleep well.

SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE

...OUTER RAINBANDS AFFECTING BERMUDA...
...DAMAGING WINDS EXPECTED ON BERMUDA LATER TODAY...


SUMMARY OF 800 AM AST...1200 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...30.4N 67.1W
ABOUT 210 MI...340 KM SW OF BERMUDA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...115 MPH...185 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NE OR 35 DEGREES AT 21 MPH...33 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...956 MB...28.23 INCHES

Joaquin continues to head out to sea, but I’m not lowering my guard quite yet, as our steely gray skies and east wind have given way to blue skies with an east wind, which means the high pressure is coming down over us. This is great if it shunts the hurricane out to sea, but bad news if it manages to get in front of the hurricane. In the upper atmosphere map below you can see what the computer model imagines we will see tomorrow morning. (Dr. Ryan Maue map from Joseph D’Aleo’s site at Weatherbell.)Joaquin 4 ecmwf_z500a_noram_7

The above map shows the low pressure off Carolina and the high pressure ahead of Joaquin which, in a worst case scenario, could sling it northwest. Those much wiser than I are fairly certain it will “escape” northeast, though Joseph D’Aleo states those on Cape Cod shouldn’t entirely lower their guard quite yet, and they will get some good surf.

A weirder solution would have Joaquin slow and do a loop. One of the weirdest solutions I have seen occurred in 1971, when I was about to sail south on a teenager’s misadventure.  A hurricane named Ginger headed out to sea, and then stopped, and spent a solid week slowly backing west and making a mess of all sailor’s plans. But that is a story for another time. I’ll just say I’m glad I’m not out on a boat this October 4, in the waters of Buzzard’s Bay heading south, as I was that October 4. Sometimes being an old man looking at maps and satellite pictures isn’t all bad.

Joanquin 4 HUIR(7)

SUNDAY EVENING UPDATE

...RAGGED EYE OF JOAQUIN PASSING JUST TO THE WEST OF BERMUDA...
...TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS CONTINUE ON THE ISLAND...


SUMMARY OF 500 PM AST...2100 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...32.2N 66.4W
ABOUT 95 MI...150 KM W OF BERMUDA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...100 MPH...155 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NNE OR 15 DEGREES AT 14 MPH...22 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...958 MB...28.29 INCHES

It is swerving slightly back towards land, but no one seems the slightest bit concerned, as the the westerlies are coming south to the north, and also the storm is weakening some.  

MONDAY MORNING UPDATE

Winds shifting a little south of east, here in New Hampshire, with only the crescent moon and bright Venus able to shine through a thin layer of strato-cumulus coming inland from the sea. Some higher clouds remotely seen through this lower deck, coming from the southeast. I’d be more nervous if wiser men weren’t certain the remote possibility of a sneak-attack-hurricane has faded away.  Joaquin likely will curve east and make a beeline for the Azores, but it currently is swerving just a little towards the NNE to see if it can get me to flinch.

...JOAQUIN EXPECTED TO MOVE AWAY FROM BERMUDA TODAY...


SUMMARY OF 500 AM AST...0900 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...34.1N 65.2W
ABOUT 125 MI...205 KM N OF BERMUDA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...85 MPH...140 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NNE OR 25 DEGREES AT 13 MPH...20 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...964 MB...28.47 INCHES

MONDAY EVENING UPDATE

SUMMARY OF 500 PM AST...2100 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...35.8N 64.0W
ABOUT 245 MI...395 KM N OF BERMUDA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...85 MPH...140 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NNE OR 30 DEGREES AT 12 MPH...19 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...964 MB...28.47 INCHES

TUESDAY UPDATE

...JOAQUIN SLOWLY WEAKENING WHILE ACCELERATING NORTHEASTWARD...


SUMMARY OF 1100 AM AST...1500 UTC...INFORMATION
-----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...38.3N 59.6W
ABOUT 665 MI...1075 KM SSW OF CAPE RACE NEWFOUNDLAND
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...80 MPH...130 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...NE OR 55 DEGREES AT 18 MPH...30 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...974 MB...28.77 INCHES

Today Joaquin made up its mind and hitched a ride on the Westerlies across the Atlantic towards England.

20151006 satsfcEven as Joaquin vanishes off the right margin of the map that describes New England’s world view, Old England sees it appear on the left margin of the UK Met map describing their world view:Surface pressure chart - Forecast T+12 - Issued at: 0800 on Tue 6 Oct 2015

The UK Met has what is left of Joaquin running along the north coast of Spain next Sunday, so I may update this post a few times more, though it isn’t really a “local view”

However at this point I should likely tip my hat to the forecasters who had the nerve to go out on a limb and guess where this dangerous storm was going to go, especially Joe Bastardi over at Weatherbell, who did the best I saw, even though he did adjust is forecast from up-the-coast to out-to-sea. He made his adjustments before others, and all in all did an amazingly good job of predicting what cannot be predicted.

I stand by my guns, when it comes to the fact that one of these days one of these storms will look all the world like it is going out to sea, and then will swerve back northwest and shatter the windows of Boston’s skyscrapers while ripping just west of town, heading north at 50 mph. However even a blind squirrel can find a nut. I will be wrong 99 times before I am right once, as a guy like Joe Bastardi is right 99 times before he is wrong once.

But when I’m finally right, won’t I ever get the spotlight!  Headlines written by idiots will suggest I’m a better forecaster than Mr. Bastardi.  And me?  Hopefully I’ll have the brains to milk my day in the sun, and wind up nicely tanned.

In which case you should tap me on the shoulder, and remind me I am just an Eeyore.Eeyore rsz_eeyore61_5881_5847

WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE

SUMMARY OF 500 AM AST...0900 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...40.5N 49.4W
ABOUT 465 MI...750 KM SSE OF CAPE RACE NEWFOUNDLAND
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...75 MPH...120 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...ENE OR 75 DEGREES AT 32 MPH...52 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...977 MB...28.85 INCHES

WEDNESDAY NIGHT UPDATE

...JOAQUIN HAS BECOME A POST-TROPICAL CYCLONE...
...THIS IS THE LAST ADVISORY...


SUMMARY OF 1100 PM AST...0300 UTC...INFORMATION
-----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...42.0N 37.0W
ABOUT 595 MI...960 KM WNW OF THE AZORES
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...65 MPH...100 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...E OR 80 DEGREES AT 35 MPH...56 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...977 MB...28.85 INCHES

Surface pressure chart - Analysis - Issued at: 0800 on Wed 7 Oct 2015

Current forecasts show a greatly weakened Joaquin sliding along the north coast of Spain and then ducking south along the France-Spain border into the Mediterranean by next Monday.

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LOCAL VIEW —Reading Leaves—Updated

IMG_0407
Like the wild geese I too must fly away
And so I sniff the wind and read the leaves
Not in teacups or novels, but everyday
And green and sighing as sunshine deceives
The forest ceiling with endless summer dreams.

These woods were once a meadow flower-strewn
And like those blooms my time is brief, it seems;
In the sweeping millennium I’m one noon
Watching shadows shrink and then start to grow,
Reading the leaves that now want to be red,
Learning to lean on how little I know,
And how poems can speak what cannot be said,
As all around me a sun that isn’t seen
Makes a scarlet sunset of what was green.

The change in the seasons could be wild around here, as we are at the end of a very dry spell, yet have flood warnings. I had to drag a hose out to the pig stye, which as become a dust bath despite the fact I located the pen by a pasture spring, which is now spring-less. (What did I expect from autumn?)

The air is hot and muggy, like summer, and there is muttering on the weather blogs about possible hurricanes to our south. One computer has a storm hitting New Jersey next Sunday, and another has New England being hit next Monday. Drought to drown NJ Plot wind_nest_m(6) Drought to drown NE plot uv900_swath_nest3__2_

(Maps created by Dr. Ryan Maue, and lifted from Joseph D’Aleo’s blog at Weatherbell, where you can get the potential for these storms hitting various places discussed in great detail and depth.)

It is still so dry that the pasture grass has gone crunchy. My corn was stunted this summer. It seems absurd to hear flood watches announced on the weather radio, but there they are.

There is a lot of juice in the air, even without a hurricane hitting us, and a cold front bearing down will swing the south wind around to the raw northeast. Therefore I suppose it is time to resurrect my “Local View” posts for another winter. (And they could get interesting, if we do get a hurricane.)

My wife had a project for the children at the Childcare today that involved pressing leaves (and other stuff) between sheets of wax paper, and I got nabbed and sent out to collect leaves with a group of children. The trees are only just starting to change, but a sick maple by the road is ahead of the rest, so we headed to it. The odd thing was that there wasn’t a single colored leaf on the ground. The leaves that fell were completely brown. I assume it is so dry the trees aren’t going to let leaves fall without sucking them dry. I had to bend down a branch, so the kids could pluck colored leaves that still held a bit of moisture. What do I make of that, as a leaf reader?  Not flood watches, that’s for sure.

20150929 satsfc(Note the developing swirl east of Florida. Click to clarify and enlarge.)

UPDATE  —From drought to drenching—

A wall of water came through early this morning. I could hear the trees starting to sigh as I went to bed.  It was over 70° (21.1° C) as I headed off to work in the dark blue light of September dawn-dusk, and felt like Florida, and my mind was thinking of the early picture of Hurricane Joaquin brewing up to the south.Hurricane Joaquin 1 HUIR(4)

This is not a good situation, as hurricanes tend to move very slowly down there and make everyone complacent, and then start up the coast, and abruptly move very fast. In a sense they pounce like a cat, and mortals are mice taken by surprise.

With the weather warm and muggy and rain streaming down, it was easy for my imagination to envision tropical storms, however after drenching us with a third of a foot the streaming rain tapered off around noon, and, with a couple grumbles of thunder, moved away to the north. 20150930 rad_ne_640x480_0120150930B rad_ne_640x480_12

Now the wind has swung around to the north and stars twinkle in the evening sky, and its cooler. Hurricane? Complacency  is setting in.

However I’ll save worry for tomorrow, content in the knowledge my pigs are happy. They did not approve of dust baths.

LOCAL VIEW —THANKSGIVING SNOW? MILD AT THE MOMENT—

Quite a lovely rush of mild air swept over us yesterday, after the day began with a cold rain and temperatures down close to freezing. I didn’t mind the chill as I’d picked my smoked bacon and ham up, at the slaughterhouse in Troy, and was using the back of my truck as a sort of refrigerator, because the refrigerator in the house is crammed with stuff for Thanksgiving.

It was 36 when I drove the 6 five-year-olds to kindergarten, and then I went home to test out the fresh bacon for breakfast.  It was delicious, but then the after-effects of insomnia hit, and even though I had a ton to do I lay down to listen the lulling drumming of rain on the roof, and the next thing I knew it was over an hour later and the low sun was beaming through the window into my eyes. I headed into the cool kitchen for a second coffee, and stepped out onto the porch, and it was ten degrees warmer outside than inside.  (62 versus 52) (17 vs.11 Celsius) A warm front had swept north and past us.

It was hard to take the winter storm watches seriously when the kind wind was ruffling fingers through my hair, but I managed to potter about, putting the smoked meat from the back of the now too-warm pick-up into the freezer, getting some late carrots from the thawing soil in the frozen garden, dismantling the box I built in the back of my truck when I moved the pigs, moving the lumber into the stall to repair the goats stables with, instructing the fellow who came by to tow off my youngest son’s car to the shop to be fixed, loading the porch with firewood, all the while in a dreamy mood due to the mildness.

20141124B satsfc 20141124B rad_ne_640x480

Even after dark it stayed mild. The family is starting to gather for Thanksgiving, and we had a fresh ham for dinner with six adults and a baby at the table. (I never seem to get to enjoy much empty-nest-syndrome.) A lot a talk was about the coming storm, even as we were in T shirts due to the heat from the oven and the nearly completely closed-up wood-stove (which has had the same fire burning in it since mid-October.) I checked the computer and saw that at the Weatherbell site Joe Bastardi had noted the NAM model had upped the snow amounts:

Thkz3 Screen_shot_2014_11_24_at_9_40_56_PM

Now I’m up at 2:00 AM with my typical insomnia, and it is still mild, with hazy starlight. It is nearly impossible to imagine that in 24 hours it is suppose to be snowing heavily.  It is 57 out, (14 Celsius) and 64 (18 Celsius) down in Fitchburg, a half hour south of here in Massachusetts. The cold front won’t get here until around daybreak. Even though I can see the backlash snow well west of here, north of Chicago on the radar, and can see the first hint of low pressure down in South Carolina,  it is hard to think the storm won’t be rain.

20141125B satsfc 20141125B rad_nat_640x480

Considering worry is something I am all too good at, it seems odd I am doing such a bad job of it.

The mildness has chased the snow-cover north, and it has retreated greatly from its record-setting levels of only five days ago, when it was just north of here and clear down to Texas. However the west side of Hudson Bay is freezing up swiftly. The warmth never got up that far.

Snowcover 20141125 ims2014328_usa

 

LOCAL VIEW —Backwash—

20141105 satsfc

At this time of year there are great surges and counter-surges of air from north to south and south to north, and we are currently in a counter-surge from the south. People appreciate the mildness much more, after a shot of cruel cold.

With the clocks switched an hour backwards, it is now dark when the parents pick up their children at our childcare after work. We had our first evening fire last night out in the pasture, with some of the children roasting small cubes of pork on pointed sticks, and others roasting potatoes on the hot coals. The parents tell me it makes quite a scene, as they drive in.

This morning found me grumpy, as the Democrats won here in New Hampshire, and that means more paperwork and bureaucracy for a small business owner like myself. I wanted to sit and sulk, but two young boys were full of energy, and bouncing off the walls indoors, so I took them out for a walk. The boys are only at our Childcare for an hour, until the bus comes, but an hour can be an eternity, not only for boys, but for my staff. Sometimes it spares everyone to just go outside, especially when the morning is mild.

We headed off to the nearby flood-control reservoir next to the farm.  I was trying to teach them to walk quietly so we might see some wildlife, but they were so exuberant and loud that it is likely that even hibernating woodchucks stirred in their sleep, underground, a mile away. In my grumpy mood I decided to teach the boys a lesson.

I didn’t actually lie. When we came to the edge of a clearing, and I told them to pause and peer before moving out into the open, and instead the boys utterly ignored me and walked right out chattering away like a flock of grackles, I pointed off to the distance and said, “Did you see the deer over there?”

This wasn’t a lie, because it was a question. I didn’t say I saw a deer. (And I actually did see a deer “over there” years ago.)  I then added a deer will slip into the woods as soon as it sees you, so you only have a moment to see it, before it is gone. That isn’t a lie either.

To the boys it may have sounded like I was saying a deer had been there in the present tense, and that the deer swiftly vanished in the present tense, but I didn’t actually say that. (Obviously I have been studying politicians too much.)

My deception did have the effect of making the boys become quieter. They were disappointed about missing the sight of a deer, and more somber, as we approached the dam. I told them to walk up the slope slowly and quietly, and to only poke their heads gradually over the top of the rise, and then demonstrated by holding my hands flat, like the brim of a hat, up by my forehead, and then gradually lowering my hands to my nose, like I was looking over the top of a fence, and then owlishly looking left and right.

My expression must have been too exaggerated, for both of the boys nearly fell down laughing.  Then they proceeded to exaggerate their stealth, by crawling up the slope like a couple of Apache approaching an encampment of the US Cavalry.  I didn’t mind. At least they were quiet.

Then we were unexpectedly rewarded. The boys had been so noisy that I didn’t think a creature would be in sight, and at first the waters looked still and deserted.  I was trying to think of some way to make the effort seem worthwhile, and was quietly saying, in an ominous tone of voice, that it might be a sign of a bad winter that the ducks were heading south without stopping this year. (I figured saying this might make seeing nothing more interesting.) However even as I spoke I saw a motion on the shore of a small peninsula that juts out into the middle of the reservoir. I pointed towards the ripples expanding from the that shore, and then we watched a mother otter and her two nearly-grown young swim out and away from us. They kept lifting their heads like periscopes to see us better, and then diving: Long, sleek and shiny.

The boys thought it was interesting, but their attitudes were matter-of-fact. They had no idea how special the event was. I didn’t mind. At least they had seen that it pays to be quiet when exploring the woods and fields and shores, and that is not easy to teach. In fact that behavior is nearly impossible to teach,  because even when you manage to keeps kids relatively quiet for a relatively long period of time (like 45 seconds) you usually see nothing, and therefore cannot prove silence is worth it. This time we had proof, and that seemed like a gift to me.

I guess it goes to show me: Maybe the side I want to win doesn’t always win elections, but I can still occasionally win in other areas of life.

But now I must endure five tedious hours of “adult education”, ordered by a bureaucracy that wouldn’t know an otter if it bit them. So I don’t always win, either.

RiverOtterSwimmingOregonZoo

(Photo credit:  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f3/RiverOtterSwimmingOregonZoo.jpg )

 

LOCAL VIEW —BLUE MONDAY—

20141103 satsfc

The nor’easter went charging past on Sunday, giving the coast a shot of snow and making the groundskeepers hustle to prepare for the Patriots-Bronco’s football game, but even that close to the coast by game-time the snow was gone, and a cold wind roared. Inland we never got any snow, and only shreds of lower clouds sped south in the rising winds. The higher clouds expanded out from the gale, all the world like the anvil-top of a thunderstorm, and then fell back towards the sea. By afternoon the sun was starting to appear as a silver smear in the high, gray overcast,  and then  it peeked under the clouds as it set, alighting the high cloud’s bottoms with orange. Dry leaves were scuttling like herds of brown crabs up and down the streets and over the fields, and anyone who  had their lawn raked will need to rake it again, while some lazier men looked out their windows and smiled, as their lawns were blown clear.

By Monday morning the wind was slackening a little, but it was very cold, with temperatures in the wind just below freezing. Interestingly, it was colder down south, as the storm drove the cold air right down to Georgia.

20141103 cmc_t2m_noram_1

The few remaining tender plants that have escaped frost, tucked in southern exposures or hidden in weeds, were found by the searching gusts. Only the tougher plants like Brussels sprouts survive. Winter nears.

At the farm-childcare the children were bounding with energy, partly because they likely spent most of the weekend indoors, and partly because brisk weather just seems to make kids faster. I took a bunch of the older kids out to wait for the bus in the wind and brilliant sunshine, and they bounded about and attempted to tackle me from all sides and angles, and failed, but did stay warm.

I had a lot to do, but also needed to face a State requirement that I be educated, as a child-care-provider, which involves watching seven hours of slightly offensive and patronizing stuff on line.  I managed to sit through two hours. The class is about developing good eating habits in children.  They informed me that vegetables are good for you.  Duh.

They informed me that there is more nutrition in freshly picked vegetables than in vegetables that have been refrigerate and shipped long distances, and which are six days old. Duh.

They informed me that whole wheat flour is better than enriched flour.  Duh. I knew that 45 years ago, as a young hippy munching granola.

And on and on it went. They really did seem to be assuming I was some fat lady in curlers, chain-smoking while watching TV, and baby-sitting a couple kids, and calling it “childcare.” They really are dealing with some sort of lowest common denominator, talking down their noses, and demeaning old and wise dudes like myself.  Grrr. I’m likely twice their age.

It is worse than preaching to the choir, for I was warning everyone who would listen, back in the 1970’s, that processed food lacked the nutrition of farm fresh food,  and there would be hell to pay if people kept eating junk. I stated that, besides the thirteen “essential” vitamins and minerals, there were all sorts of other trace chemicals which nature put in food, and processed food lacked those mysterious ingredients, and therefore we were not properly nourishing children.

Well, now they at least have a word for those trace chemicals. The word is, “phytochemicals”. There are over a hundred of them. They don’t exactly know what they all are or how they all work or how they work in conjunction with each other, but now they have that word they think they are smarter than me, and sit up on a high horse and lecture me. Grrr.  If they had listened to  me forty years ago we wouldn’t now have a generation of fat, pasty kids.  However they are the ones who made “cafeteria food” a byword for for inedible blandness, serving up processed concentrations of sugar, salt, and hydrogenated oils, with the vitamins removed and then added as thirteen supplements, and then decided the kids needed Ritalin, when they started bouncing off the walls . I’m the one called “radical” for opening a childcare that focused on fresh air, exercise and farm fare, and said shocking things like, “Recess is important.”

If anything these government bozos should come to me fawning and grovelling, and beg for my forgiveness. Instead I resemble Rodney Dangerfield, “I don’t get no respect.”  Sigh.

In any case, I only have five more hours of the on-line classes to go.  I am going to try to be good and not swear at the computer screen too much.  I do learn a few things,  even if it is merely a word like “phytochemicals” for something I already knew.

However it does irk me that these government regulators seem to think I have seven hours to spare.  They themselves must have a lot of free time, as they sit about dreaming up ways to make my life harder. (For a while even opening a childcare on a farm seemed impossible, because they call manure “fecal matter,” and don’t want children exposed to it. Fortunately we met a good government official who helped us find a way of calling a trip out to the stables to feed chickens and goats a “field trip.”)

After sitting and watching my computer for nearly three hours, (it takes longer than an hour to watch an hour-long-class, as you need to click various tabs and answer various questions, to prove you are actually present and not “skipping” the class,) I did manage to rush off and pick up our pork from the slaughterhouse.

Today we will cook up little cubes of pork at the ends of long sticks, and roast potatoes dug from the garden, by a campfire. The little children will be exposed to the dangers of blazing coals, pointed sticks, hot grease, and saturated fat. Surely a government regulator would take one look at us, clutch their hearts,  and keel over. However the children don’t seem to mind it, and the parents sign the permission slips, so I assume they don’t mind it either.

 

 

LOCAL VIEW—SHIPPING PIGS

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(Click to enlarge and clarify)

It actually was a pretty nice day, considering all the hoopla about a possible nor’easter. After Wednesday’s cold, showery front and yesterday’s upper-air trough with it’s deep purple and angry-looking clouds,  the wind swung around from the cold north, backing to the west and even a little south of west.  The sun flirted with the clouds, only rarely breaking through, but the day was milder and drier, and I decided I might as well enjoy it.

People are always saying that there once was a man who, on his deathbed, stated he spent most of his life worrying about things that  never happened.  That seems foolish. I spent my time worrying about things that actually did happen, but what I then discovered was that the dreaded events weren’t so bad as I had imagined.  That takes a lot of the anxiety out of worry. Worry has less sting, and becomes more like simply observing.

I spent a lot of the day looking up at the clouds. The sky did not look ugly, or filled with foreboding, but rather it seemed confused.

A weak ridge of high pressure was trying to swing the north wind to a south wind, but a lot of “junk” was mixed in. The above map is enormously simplified. If one drew in all the fading traces of old fronts and occlusions and upper air troughs,  (the meteorological Halloween ghosts and the ghosts of ghosts,) the map would be a veritable jungle of lines.

To be truly scientific you would have to keep track of every action-and-reaction, and every cause-and-effect, from the vast macrocosm down to the minute microcosm, and your brains would simply fry. I think that is what worry is:  Frying brains. At some point you have to give it up, and simply deal in generalities.

If you look at the above map you can see the clouds from the building storm off shore, and the clouds from the digging trough to our west, and a partly cloudy area between them, over New England. That partly-to-mostly-cloudy patch was the generality passing over today. It was the brief “better” between two “bads.” Not much to write home about, but not without beauty, either. Sometimes a single sunbeam is all I need.

This brings me around to the brief life of pigs. They are often alive less than a year, going from little piglets to 200 pounds, and then to a frying pan as bacon. Compared to them we are like redwood trees, tall and seemingly eternal.

And boy, can pigs ever worry! If they run up against the slightest problem in their lives, their screaming squeals would convince a judge and jury they were dying. Five seconds later, they are happy as clams.

Pigs  (photo credit: http://www.betawired.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Pigs.jpg )

I like to have a few pigs around our farm-childcare, as it seems important to me that children know, as our grandparents knew, where their bacon comes from. Too many people nowadays are completely disconnected from that reality. They lack the understanding that life involves the devouring of other life, and even seem to feel our Creator was wrong to construct Creation the way He has.

I think pigs are a valuable addition to a farm, for they make use of food that would otherwise be wasted as garbage. To those who say the garbage could be composted, I simply say pig manure is a better compost. What’s more, pigs tend to churn their manure into the soil, creating an area so rich that, if you move the pigs to a different spot, the old pen can become a lush pumpkin patch, even if was sterile soil before the pigs moved in.

Vegetarians are always reciting a bit of algebra to me,  involving the fact it takes ten energy-units of grain to produce one energy-unit of meat, as if farmers are dunderheads and don’t know what is practical.  The thing of it is that pigs can take zero energy-units of garbage, and produce one energy-unit of meat, in the same manner that goats can live on stony land that would grow zero energy-units of grain, and produce one energy-unit of milk. (And this doesn’t even mention the use we can make of hair and hides.) The old-time farmers knew what they were doing, when they allotted their time and their lands.

However there is no getting around the fact children like pigs, and find them fascinating. Perhaps pigs remind us of ourselves, in a way. One of my favorite things to do is to feed the pigs with small children watching, and then, when the beasts have their usual bad table manners, snouting each other aside, and slobbering and grunting and smacking lips as they eat, I turn to the children and pretend disgust, and exclaim, “What horrid manners! Disgusting! They eat like pigs!” The children always look up to me with laughing eyes and explain, “That’s because they are pigs, Mr. Shaw!”

I have to take care the children don’t make pets of them. When I first opened our childcare they did get too attached to a pig named “Brick”, and I felt terrible when the time for Brick’s slaughter approached.  I said I was merely going to move Brick to a different farm, but a know-it-all nine-year-old informed the younger children of what would happen at “the other farm.”

I knew I was in trouble when I noticed a group of small girls glaring balefully, as I left for lunch one day. When I arrived back at the farm after a lunch I discovered my staff had nearly called the police.after the girls hatched a plot,  and had secretly crept off while the littler children were being pacified and bedded down for “quiet time.”  After a brief panic the older girls were discovered around Brick’s pen. When an explanation was demanded, they stated they were holding a prayer meeting. They were raining tears down upon Brick, who happily looked up at them, delighted at the attention.   (To avoid a re-occurrence of this sort of Charlotte’s-Web-heartache, I now tend to limit contact with the pigs when they are tiny and adorable, and to give pigs names like “Bacon” and “Pork Chop”.)

I myself have gotten too fond of pigs in the past, though it is usually for material and selfish reasons. Such was the case involving two sows named Za-za and Eva, who were wonderful mothers and could raise 14 piglets because each had 14 working teats, (rather than the usual 12.)

Usually a sow is slaughtered after a litter or two, mostly because they get very big with time, and then can be harder to handle. Also I suppose the meat gets tougher. However I also discovered that having a pig die a “natural” death is not always a serene event.

It happened one night after midnight. Eve began screaming and crashing about in her pen. After ten minutes she was staggering, and ten minutes later she was on her side peddling her legs, and then it abruptly ended. The entire twenty minutes she was screaming in a deafening way, apparently in pain and in panic. (The vet later said ulcers are relatively common in older pigs, and Eva had one that ruptured.)

The next morning all I had to show for my affection and care was well over 300 pounds of dead meat that was nearly impossible to budge and was rapidly bloating. In the old days I suppose I could have hired some guy to come pick her up and haul her off to be turned into dog food and fertilizer, but in these modern times she was good for nothing but burial, using a backhoe. I had taken both an emotional and financial hit. I decided, as I remembered  Eva screaming for 20 minutes, that dying in a half second, due to a bullet to the back of the head, was far preferable for the pig, and also for me.

Another danger, besides getting too attached to the pigs, is that children rapidly grow smaller than the little piglets they play with. Once a pig gets larger than the child it is important to keep in mind that pigs are not entirely civilized. Lurking within a cute, pink farm-pig is a wild boar, and when a pig gets over 150 pounds I watch even myself, even when scratching the beast’s backs and hearing them grunt in pleasure. (Often a pig will flop onto their sides in complete bliss, if you give their back a good scratching.) Despite their benign moods, one should never forget pigs become incredibly strong, much stronger than a man, and they do lose their tempers, often wounding each other over a nothing, a battle over a banana peel. They can do a man damage in a brief fit of temper. It’s not that they don’t like you; its just the way they are.

Pig feral images (Photo credit:   http://www.thebraiser.com/new-york-resorts-to-shooting-feral-pigs-from-helicopters/ )

My general rule is to do my best to give a pig a good and happy life.  When the end comes, the pig does not see it coming. They have no worry. All in all it isn’t a bad deal: I have fed them, and then they feed me.

I do worry, when it comes time bring the pigs to the slaughterhouse, because loading pigs into the box I construct in the back of my truck can be, (and has been),  a complete fiasco.

I remember one 350 pound sow decided she didn’t like the looks of the ramp that led up into the truck, and started to back away. I had three strong friends helping me, and we were attempting to herd her with four-by-eight foot sheets of plywood. She was quite able to shrug us aside like we were flyweights.  Various walls and fences were rapidly being smashed and crashed, and it was looking like the huge sow might bust loose and head off to some neighbor’s rose garden, when I remembered something I’d read about, and thrust a five gallon pail over her head.  She tried to back away, and by steering her as I kept jamming the pail against her face, I backed her up the ramp and into the truck.

Today I put my worry to good use, and used every trick I could think of.  I constructed  a sort of alley from the pen to the truck, and limited distraction,  including covering the ramp into the truck with a thick bed of straw, so it felt more stall-like and usual underfoot, than a metal ramp usually does. I underfed them beforehand, and then mixed a little blue cheese in with their grain, and let them have some good sniffs at the pail without giving them any, before opening the gate of their pen.

It is always more difficult to load two pigs than one, as the first tends to bolt before you can get the second one up the ramp and into the truck, but today they were more like lambs than pigs. I’ve never had such an easy loading, and the unloading them was the same, 20 miles away.

I think one reason the event was nothing like the worries I imagined it would be was because I didn’t have any sense I was harming the pigs. I reminded myself that, if I let them stay in their pen, they would suffer in the howling snow and wind, forecast for Sunday morning. Pigs have an animal instinct that smells your mood when you are scared or angry, or feeling guilty, but I felt no guilt, and they knew it.

And soon they’ll know if pigs can fly.

Pig flying Look-flying-pigs-51794-e1315601783379

(Photo credit: http://paxonbothhouses.blogspot.com/2014/02/see-similarity-between-lincoln-and-obama.html )

THE LIMPING SUN

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It has always fascinated me how much warmer it is on the autumnal side of the Winter Solstice, and how much colder it is after the Solstice. I tend to look at the sun and say, “The sun is as low now as it is in X.”  I do this especially in the spring, when it seems the snow will never melt, but the sun is getting higher and more powerful.

After a quarter century of putting up with this sort of muttering, my wife now rolls her eyes, and occasionally asks me why I can’t enjoy the present without comparing it to something else.

However I can’t seem to help myself. Today I’ll look out across the nut-colored landscape of Oak Autumn, check my almanac, and say something like, “Today is ten and a half hours long, the same as it is on February 13, when the world would be white and all the ponds frozen.”  My wife might then ask me if I have so much free time I can check almanacs, and I will hurry off, because if I leak out that I have free time she might ask for help with some task. Even after a quarter century I haven’t taught that woman how to loaf, though I’m still working on it.

The dwindling sunshine hits home around Halloween. I think it spooks northern people and makes them a little crazy, which is why we have the strange holiday “Halloween” now. (The opposite craziness, in the Spring, is “April Fools Day”.)  In pagan times, in Ireland, people thought the spirits of the dead began to walk abroad in the early evenings, and hid indoors with an offering placed outside their front doors to placate the dead. If they did have to go out into the dusk they would disguise their identity by wearing a mask. St. Patrick apparently felt this was nonsense, and to show that Christians were not afraid he sent little children out in the dark to eat the offerings at other people’s porches. (I’m not exactly sure how the little children came to wear masks.)

Though New England gets much colder than Ireland, we are further south and our days don’t get as short, but it still is distressing how swiftly the sun gets wan and weak in October. The days are nearly an hour and a half shorter at the end of the month than they were at the start. The fiery brilliance of the sugar maple’s flaming foliage has given way to the muted browns of the oaks,  and the green cornstalks have turned brown and rustle crisply in the windy fields. The summer birds have all gone and the dawns are more silent, and alien birds from the north are passing through.

The drenching nor’easter we got at the end of last week is remembered, as the fallen leaves are still wet below the surface of their drifts and piles, despite dry northwest winds as the storm slowly moved off. The low, limping sun simply has lost its power to dry things.  I remember, from back in the days when I made a bundle of money by raking up other people’s leaves, that a fall rain made the job far heavier and harder. Leaves took a long time to dry, before the first snow, whereas they dried swiftly after the last snow melted, because the sun is so much higher, and the days are three hours longer, in April.

Even as a strong young man this might have given me a reason to loaf, but with five kids I needed the money, and therefore raked leaves in the fall. Now I do have a reason to loaf, for I don’t get paid a cent for raking my own leaves, however my wife seems to think leaves look bad. I think they look lovely, and in any case, they’ll soon be hidden by snow.  (I don’t much care about the grass being killed beneath the leaves, for my dog has done a pretty good job of killing it already.)  However females seem to judge the character of a man by the color of his lawn, so I’ll likely get started raking the lawn, any day now….unless we get an early snow. There is always hope.

The problem with an early snow involves our pigs. I don’t have winter quarters for them, and snow and cold means that a lot that goes into feeding them goes into keeping their body heat hot. After all, they are pink things running about stark naked. Therefore I’d best get them to market. I’d do it, but I have to rake leaves. However I have trouble raking leaves when I’m so worried about those poor pigs. (“There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza…”)

The above map shows the last storm leaving, but a new storm coming. We were suppose to get a nice, mild spell, according to the forecasts based on computer models, but once again Joe Bastardi and Joseph D’Aleo said otherwise on their blogs at Weatherbell, and once again they have beat the world’s biggest computers with mere brains. Brains may not be able to beat computers at chess, but brains do much better than computers playing the game of chaos, which is what weather and humanity amount to.

The computers now show the low crossing the Great Lakes will dig in and deepen, as it arrives at the Atlantic. What is left of Hurricane Ana, a mere impulse barely able to dent the isobars as it penetrates high pressure crossing the Rockies, will dive southeast and add energy to the east coast trough, and another nor’easter will form this Saturday. It may suck enough cold air down behind it to create some snow.

Sigh. I was planning to avoid telling my wife about this forecast, but the blasted, tweeting, newfangled Facebook alerted her. Now I’ll have to both rake leaves and get pigs to the market. It’s either that, or go out and purchase a good Halloween mask.

Bears have it better. They hibernate.