February Vacation- An Oxymoron


School teacher Jim had February vacation this last week. After the last ten days, the return to a classroom of twelve year olds has serious appeal. I am sure he will sprint to work tomorrow- if there isn’t another snow day!

During Jim’s vaction, snow fell in volume every few hours, ever adding to a base of two or three feet of the white stuff already there. This meant Jim had many wonderful jobs to fill his idle vacation hours.

He was lucky enough to get lots of practice in the art of shovelling. Due to the non-stop precipitation, he needed to shovel new paths to the house, office, barn, woodpile, compost heap and cars every day. Sometimes he was fortunate enough to need to shovel these paths two or three times in the same day.

For extra fun, he frollicked on the roofs for hours on end shovelling off the mountains of snow that threatened to damage the buildings below.

Jim was also blessed with the opportunity to clean snow off cars and trucks every few hours. His visiting children left him with extra vehicles to practice on. They even let him take broken cars to the nearby garage for repairs and annual inspections!

As a special treat, whenever the plow guy appeared Jim got to move all the cars off the driveway into slots he had dug out on the lawn so the plow guy could shove the maximum amount of new snow out of the way.

When he took a break from shovelling there were other exhilarating projects to while away the time.

In the mudroom of the farm is a floor to ceiling space for wood for our woodstove. If it is sunny, we don’t need to use the stove. Our solar home does all the work. However when the sun is not shining, we need to run our woodstove.

Lucky Jim!

We haven’t really seen the sun since Columbus Day so we have needed to run the woodstove 24/7 FOR MONTHS ON END.

This means instead of bring in wood for the stove once every two weeks, we need to do it every four or five days. I like to help bring in wood, but with Jim on vacation, he did this job solo. Over and over again. Why even as I type this- look who is at the back door?


More wood burnt means more ash to remove from the stove and sprinkle in the gardens. It’s been a particular joy for Jim to wade through thigh high snow to spread the ash.

In addition, traffic at the bird feeders has gone through the roof this season. Instead of filling the feeders once a day, we need to refill the feeders two or three times a day. Jim relishes getting to shovel a path to the bird feeders as part of the refilling process.

Here in this action shot, Jim is telling me that three years ago we made two gallons of maple syrup on this day. WOW!

This year we haven’t even tapped our trees yet. And the spot where we boil our syrup? Let’s just say its a good thing Jim has his shovelling skills honed!

Here is the spot where the evaporator goes!