October Storm 2017
Not all Maine storms involve snow, and sometimes major weather events come as early as October. Of course, we do get major summer storms occasionally, but it has been a while since one of those has really wreaked havoc on our state. Usually the destruction is reserved for wintertime, when the howling winds and blowing snow take out power and knock down trees.
But this year a warm rainstorm hit us the weekend before Halloween. The storm packed such a punch, more people lost power than in our 1998 Ice Storm, a weather event that has been engraved in the memories of everyone living in Maine at the time.
This storm made me grateful for the openness of our land, where we do not have any large trees near the house or barn. All around the state trees toppled, some onto buildings or cars, but we were spared any of that destruction. On my way in to work following the storm I tried four different roads and found them blocked by downed trees, before having to take a very long route around to my office. Power was knocked out to our farm on Monday morning, and as of Wednesday afternoon it was still out. Our local power company is estimating restoration by Saturday.
The exciting weather of this week is a strong reminder to be prepared for the upcoming winter weather. Here in Maine you never know what the winter months might bring. Some years are mild, some exceptionally snowy, and some full of ice and wind. Pretty much every year you can count on at least one good storm, and even without a major weather event the temperatures still drop below zero consistently.
Shingling the barn was a big part of winter preparedness for us, and during the rain and winds of this storm we didn't have any water blowing in to the barn and it remained much warmer inside (without any actual heat on) than out. This is a big improvement on last year, when snowflakes fell inside the barn.
As many of our readers know, we live fairly minimally with electricity to the barn for our small kitchen, which is made up of a hot plate and an apartment oven, and water to our kitchen sink and outdoor shower. We do not have anything close to a lavish house, we've set up camp in the front two rooms of the old farmhouse cape, and the back ell of the farmhouse will eventually be completely torn off and rebuilt.
We've already been through one winter living like this, and found it much warmer than trying to heat our old house, which was much bigger. The front two rooms house a small woodstove that keeps them absolutely toasty in cold weather. Showering outside is hardly a hardship, even in the coldest weather, when you know you can run in to a warm house immediately after. Much of the winter will be spent continuing to clear land for our future crop plans, and then we will start to empty out the ell of the farmhouse and take down that building in preparation for a long summer of home-building.
Knowing that all of the animals are comfortable and safe in their stalls takes much of the stress out of storms. Our barn is set up so that the beasts would be cozy for many days inside if need be. We are ready for whatever winter brings this year.