St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Colden Years?

Ventured out a little today before the big freeze that is headed here this evening for the next 4-5 days.  Just a hint of melting on the dark colored roof, and not too bad outside, but the cold weather ahead can give a person anticipatory depression.  

Nothing stirring at the cabin--a few tracks from a feral cat or maybe it is the neighbor's cat, checking out the sap shed for mice.  Very few deer tracks and a single rabbit hopping across the yard.   

The spring is trickling water into the lake as usual, and the culvert under the road where Orr Creek leaves the lake is open and running a normal stream on its way to Wolf Creek, the St Croix, Mississippi, and the gulf of Mexico--hinting that we might as well drift down there too. 

The lake has some tracks from holiday weekend ice fishermen trying it out.  Usually they don't stay as the fishing is slow and the bigger nearby lakes seem to do better. 

The culvert where Orr Creek heads south.  I have never seen it stop running except when the beavers plug the culvert.  

I prefer the green version of the corncrib!  The light spot on the ground to the left is where I shoveled a big pile of oats out onto the ground last winter.  It had been in the granary above the garage for 30 years, mice had chewed probably every kernal--none sprouted, but a nice crop of toad stools came up in it.  Have the second big bin to shovel out this winter.  I could have done it last year, but the mice running up my pant legs got sort of boring after the first few times. 

The wild grape vines were grapeless this fall.  They are attempting to pull down the crib.  Dad filled it with ear corn each fall and shoveled out a trailer load, threw on some oats and took it to Cushing once a week for ground feed for the cows.  Sometimes they got soybeans added, or more likely some linseed or cottonseed meal for extra protein.

The stairs to the granary above the garage (1949) are in need of shoring up again.  Brother Marv did them with treated lumber, but they are a little wobbly.  I think I make an inside stairway and tear down the outside ones.    The 1949 outhouse stands, still mostly sound, but also in need of some work.  Every building had asphalt siding--sort of a roof shingle that was made for covering wood.  Still holding pretty good!  The door on the outhouse has been patched with many shingles--must have been from the cat wanting in for her bathroom break. 

A massive popular of some tame brand stands by the playhouse.  The tree has started to die in the top and branches will soon be falling in the wind.  The tree was small when the playhouse was put up in the 50s.  We boys didn't use it much, but the grandchildren did. 

The white lilac is out of control near the house.  Grandma Hannah Hanson gave Dad and Mom a rooted shoot as a wedding present from her own plant.  They got married in Oct 1942, so it has been there for 72 years.   Do I dare trim it back?

Tried to get enough ambition to do some chainsawing around the youngstock barn, or nailing some more on the end of the barn, or cleaning, but ended up working on the furnace. 

The farm furnace has stopped a few times in the last two months.  One time it flipped the breaker, the other times it had to be unplugged and plugged back in.  Didn't make sense, so when it failed this time I methodically checked things. 
   -- breaker was fine and flipping it anyway did nothing
   -- the trouble light and furnace are plugged into one socket on a single 20 amp breaker circuit, and both were not getting electricity.  
    -- unplugged the trouble light and plugged it into a different circuit and it worked. 
    --unplugged the furnace and plugged it back in and then both the furnace started and the trouble light came on. 
    The lightbulb coming on was the lightbulb moment--Ah HA, I thought, must be a bad outlet or plug.  
    Bought a new outlet, box and turned things off and tore into the old one.  The black (hot) wire had slipped out from under the gold colored screw and was barely touching it on the edge--a leaning connection rather than a secure one.  Maybe the furnace vibration jiggled it away and my unplugging and plugging the cord back in jiggled it together (the furnace has a power cord plug).  
   Rather than leave the old one, replaced it with a new one and secured it tightly and expect this will be the end of that problem!   An earlier call (a few weeks ago) for furnace oil smell was fixed by a new nozzle.   Now I will put on the WIFI thermostat to this furnace (no 24 volts, so bought a door bell transformer to power the device), and can go away and get an email if the house cools down below 45.  
   Scott and I put in new plumbing to the tub including an new faucet and shower setup and then cranked the pressure up on the old pumpjack well two turns (2.5 lbs per turn) and we now have the shower working normally and a nice tub surround that makes the rest of the bathroom look shabby and in need of a refurbishment too.  Soon as I get the outhouse fixed up, can shut down the indoor plumbing and work on the bathroom -- but I might just wait for a few days until the cold spell moves on.  

Will the old pump hold up under pressure to provide showers to the Hansons?  Will the furnace run through the cold spell?  Will Russ get something done this week?   Margo wants to get the exercise bicycle from Pine Island up here, so maybe a trip with the truck down there this week.  She needs to do something to try to get back more functional from the back surgery, and my suggestion of walking to the mailbox in Cushing 3 miles away -10 F just didn't go over at all.