the homestead


As they say about many things in life, timing is everything.

With winter setting in here in the Allegheny Highlands, I’ve been trying to time the winter shutdown of the hydroelectric system in order to avoid the carnage of last winter, as lengthy sections of the pipeline to the turbine froze and shattered.  I planned for the shutdown to occur at dusk today.  The system has been performing brilliantly, even with several consecutive nights with lows about 10F.

Today we took a trip across the mountains to get some lumber and groceries, returning just before dusk so that I could walk the line and shut the system down.  The day was cold but sunny, between 15 and 20F as we headed out, and the turbine could be heard doing its little turbine work.  As we pulled up on our return five hours later, parked, and got out, a sickening silence cut through the air.  The gentle whine of the turbine was missing.

After quickly unloading the groceries (the lumber can stay in the back of the truck) I headed up the hill to see what the situation was.  The situation?  I waited one day too long.  The water in the pipeline has frozen in place, and all I can do now is wait for the pipeline to thaw to determine the level of damage and make the repairs.  Surely some will have to be replaced, but that might have to wait until spring.  Had I closed the system down yesterday, I could have resumed it on the warmer days here.  Now?  Probably not until late March at the earliest.  Good thing we added the extra solar panels last September.  In the morning I will brush off the snow and get back to work on the various projects around here.

I also need to re-examine every part of the pipeline system, to get it perfect.  Clearly, it is not so now.

It is now just past dusk here, and even though they are predicting a low of 2F tonight, it was already 1F a half hour ago.  I suspect the air temperature will get to minus-5F or maybe even minus-8, and with winds gusting to almost forty miles an hour, that will yield a wind chill of around -40F.

If you come across any anthropogenic global warming crackpots (but I am being redundant) whack them with a snow shovel.