These images were taken at the warmest time of today ~16:30:
The day before yesterday when I went to the market at 08:30 it was -5c. Looks like winter is settling in.
The summer was fairly wet. During the 6 weeks I was away it rained every other day. The grasses have been continuously green. The stinging nettles were productive all through the summer and until a couple of weeks ago.
Fall was fairly dry. There were a couple of rain events but nothing major … didn’t have much effect on the rain barrels … it was a very good year for mice and flies (signs of the last of both species are finally fading out of the house). Snow has not yet made its first appearance … though according to the forecast it may arrive any night (I just covered the piles of wood in the picture above in case snow or slush does arrive tonight).
The first wave of cold came relatively late … around mid-October. I started heating the house with the rocket stoves around that time, but not every day. Shortly after that I had to empty the solar hot water system to prevent it from freezing … so showers have also been based on wood-burning since then.
For the last 2 or 3 weeks the rockets have been burning every day – a morning burn in the living room and a night burn in the bedroom. During the last week there has been a noticeable drop in temperatures … I have had to feed the rockets 3 batches instead of 2 … and on a few days I’ve even had to do a second burn during the day to keep the living room from getting to cold.
Yesterday, when the images above began to unfold I finally moved into a thermal under-layer of clothes and have had to put on quite a few layers when going outside. Hurting hands have set in too. The kitchen (entrance hall to the house) is becoming less pleasant to be in since it is only heated indirectly (heat that escapes from the two adjacent rooms and from cooking). Ricky, the small dog, has started spending nights inside. Rain water barrels are freezing over night, I can still break through the ice in the mornings … but I don’t think I’ll be able to do that much longer … I think I’ll have to empty them soon.
Days are short. I have settled into a winter rhythm that involves the routines of heating (carrying wood in, starting and feeding fires) and living in between. I still need to change the main water filter and add the final layer of insulation (straw bales and tarps) on to the two man-holes through which the water supply system passes … and may this winter be warm and pleasant.
Winter is here.
This is what it looks like outside at 07:30am here at Bhudeva:
Ironically this marks, according to the forecasts, a period of 2 relatively sunny weeks. I have by now learned that at this time of year sunny means cold and cloudy means less cold (warm is pretty much gone).
Though this isn’t the first frost. There was a lighter frost a couple of weeks ago. The day before yesterday I drained water from the solar hot water heater and I’m glad I did – I think it may have been damaged by this frost (blown pipes). Though I am considering re-opening it tomorrow or the day after to work is a pre-heater for another week or two. After that I will probably drain the solar hot water system completely (tank and collector). It’s probably also a good time to re-insulate the tops of the two concrete man-holes of the water supply from the well to the house.
The cold came earlier this year. Most of september was surprisingly cold – a cold I that I remember arriving only in October in previous years. It was also very cloudy … I didn’t get as much mileage as I wanted to from the solar dehydrators. The prunes took for over and I would have wanted them to dry a bit more – I hope they will keep well as they are. There is a batch of elderberrys that I haven’t checked on during the last week. If they got dry enough then they will be fine with this frost, if not they may have spoiled.
This is another confirmation that the more noticeable aspect of global warming is instability. Weather patterns are getting more erratic, less predictable and less reliable. They demand that much more resiliency be built into … everything.
This fall was also very rainy … the rainiest since I’ve been here (this is my 3rd fall).
The thermometer next to the window indicates 12-13c in the room (though its coldest next to the window). This is after charging the rocket last night … though not to full capacity. It’s probably time to start running it a bit longer. I also need to make a repair on the rocket. A lot of humidity is draining out of the vertical part of the chimney – this is more of problem with rocket stoves because the chimney is much cooler then regular stoves (most of the heat is retained in the mass of the rocket) – so what would would be vapor in a regular stove turns to condensation in a rocket’s chimney. This moisture is eating up the bottom of the chimney (cheap parts) and I think it is compromised and leaves an unpleasant smell (and can potentially let poisonous gasses into the room). It’s a recurring weakpoint I should probably fix. My plan is to replace the metal part with a small firebrick chamber which will not decay and will breathe any moisture back into the room.
I expect to see much more leaf-fall today and in the coming days. The frost does this. It is a spectacular and sudden change to find some trees all of a sudden bare and the ground around them covered with fallen leaves.
Also, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to lie down on the floor for Yoga practice. My winter-shopping list includes a combo of a small carpet with some underfloor insulation to place beneath it. I’ve finally settled into a regular practice these past months and already it is being challenged … savasana is very uninviting.
… and the tea is cooling much faster 🙂
Following what felt like a drought during winter we’ve had an extreme spring. After the snows melted (for the last time) temperatures soared and it felt like we skipped over spring and into summer. It was really hot and really dry for 5 or 6 weeks. Then spring rains arrived. It’s been 3 or weeks of almost non-stop wet weather. Temperatures dropped (came down as low as 6c for a few nights), we even fired up one of the rocket stoves a few times. The weather has been mostly overcast, though we’ve had enough sunshine to start using the solar dehyrators (mostly plants for teas).
Most prominently we’ve been getting lots of rain. This has been quite a relief given the super-dry summer we had last year. While Europe is experiencing destructive flooding we are being blanketed by precious, well paced and well spaced (there’s time for water to soak into the ground) rains. I’m also doing a few experiments regarding water (much more on that in future posts) and the rain has been very collaborative.
A couple of weeks ago we got word from one of the Cutia Taranului producers that they were hit by hail and lost almost their entire crop. This morning we got a call from another small producer (getting started in life as a peasant and new to Cutia Tarnaului) who just notified us that he too lost most of his crop to hail yesterday. An hour or so later Andreea called me out to check out the bees – they were dancing like crazy outside the hive. It looked like swarming behavior – though it should not have been because we pre-emptively split the hive to “cheat swarming”. Andreea suggested that maybe they were indicating a change in the weather … and indeed ominous dark clouds were not far away.
Within minutes a storm broke out. Strong south-eastern winds (usually our winds come from the north-west) with strength that we’ve never seen before (granted we’ve only been here 2 years). Visiblity dropped as a blanket of water came down (and sideways) from the sky. A few lightning bolts also hit the ground. The winds have settled, yet moderate rain continues to fall.
I went for a walk outside to see my water expriments (going very well). Many grasses, a patch of mint and all of our potato plants are bent and leaning in the direction of the wind. One of Ildy and Levente’s greenhouse covers ripped open and seems to have been blown completely off (we can only see the arches of a naked greenhouse from where are – we are waiting to hear from them if they have suffered any other damages).
It’s all so fragile. We (all of us humans on the planet) live and exist within a certain tolerance of natural fluctuation. The more we stress the ecosystem the more extreme it becomes … extremeties that are outside of our tolerances of existence … expressing those stresses directly back into our life.
We must stop taking and start giving.
We must stop pushing and start dancing.
We must stop denying and start accepting.
We must stop denying and start embracing.
We must stop resisting and start surrendering.
Yesterday morning we went outside to move the electric fencing and the flock. It isn’t too long a task and yet by the time we finished temperatures dropped noticeably and wind set in. Later in the evening the sharp-biting cold seemed to disappear and shortly after that … snow appeared. It came in silence, we only noticed it when we opened the door to see if Ricky wants to come inside … and there were flakes falling from the sky and a thin white cover already established on the ground.
This morning we found a wintery landscape with 8-10cm of fresh soft snow. Bhudeva is once again covered in white:
… and the forecast tells us that a warm 17-18c weekend is expected … climate has become unstable and extreme … now … not 20 or 50 years from now.
Winter came much earlier this year. We had a major snowfall in early December that left us with a snow cover that the previous year had only appeared at the end of January. It is also brought with the coldest period we had during this winter – a few days where temperatures dropped below -15c.
We had 3 or 4 more note-worthy snow falls throughout December, January and February but for the most part this winter felt dry – as if the previous season’s drought continued throughout the winter. The snow did not accumulate to the levels it had the previous winter. February, usually the coldest winter month, was unusually warm (one time I was outside cutting wood wearing a short-sleeved shirt on a sunny day).
Snow melted fairly early – I think that by late february most of the snow was gone and signs of new green grasses emerged. Even the bees (from the surviving hive) came out for a look around a couple of weeks ago.
My consciousness switched into a spring-ish mode and was caught off-guard by a couple of really cold-weather waves that appeared in March. During the previous weekend there was another substantial snowfall … enough to cover EVERYTHING with a white blanket … but it mostly disappeared after a couple of days.
It’s only my second winter here at Bhudeva and the signs of climate change are very clear. Regardless of overall warming the weather is becoming much less stable, much less predictable and much more prone to extreme shifts. It takes only one, short, local extreme weather event (drought, late frost, hail …) to wipe out traditional crop-systems. It is a stark reminder to me how important deep infrastructures (water and soil fertility) filled with bio-diversity are in meeting this given instability (which is very likely to continue for a long time even if we were to start drastic global regenerative actions today … which doesn’t seem likely to happen).
As Cutia Taranului is coming to life again amidst these shifting and unpredictable weather patterns I find myself immersed in both satisfaction (because of how successful it has been and promises to continue to be) and concern (because of the knowledge that the traditional methods of agriculture used by most peasant families are fragile and unsustainable).
Until yesterday I still thought the snow blanket may be temporary. This morning I am convinced its here to stay 🙂
I’ve switched to winter mode. It’s 10am and I am just getting out of bed after tea and some reading and writing. Time to go outside and feed the animals. Then back inside for breakfast, to fire up the rocket stove for an hour or two to keep the room warm for the day and to continue reading, writing, resting … being winter 🙂
I am not sure this post will be of much interest to others readers. It is intended more of a short documentation of weather patterns for us to reference in future years. I am writing it now because we are seeing a clear transition into spring and it seems worth noting.
Winter started early with a 2+ week wave of frozen tempretaures (everything outside frosted white) in late October. It was very cold and dry – we didn’t get much rain neither in the summer nor in the autumn. At first it felt like we skipped over autumn directly into winter but then the temperatures went up again – drastically. It was surprsinginly pleasant outside and we were gifted with more days of work … we worked all the way up to Christmas eve … and still there was no snow.
There were only occassional days of sunshine in December and January, more, though still relatively few, in February. I do not recall how it was during November.
Snows came in January and while other of Romania were covered by snow we had a pleasant snowfall. I think that in the open undisturbed fields it accumulated to ~70cm.
Spring emerged suddenly a week ago (~Feb 21) when we awoke to windows without any ice and drastically warmer temperatures. At first with some sunshine and on the 3rd day we had full sunshine. We were told that temperatures reached as high as 10c. There were signs of snow-melting all around. Then, after the sunshine, came two frozen days … ice on the windows and on the door handle.
Today we had partly cloudy weather and it became windy. The levels of accumulated are definitely coming down. Most of the south-facing land is already completely melted and the view that was white is now brown. All of the rest of the fields are still snow-white and areas around the house are a mixture of snow, slush and mud.