28 December 2007


Well, Christmas is past and it was a lot of fun to spend time with the family. On Christmas day, we decided to record the species of birds that visited our feeders as a scaled-down version of the Christmas bird count. On the 25th, we recorded nine species at the feeders:

American Goldfinch
American Tree Sparrow
Black-capped Chickadee
Blue Jay
Downy Woodpecker
Eastern Bluebird
Mourning Dove
Northern Flicker
White-breasted Nuthatch

We've also been seeing Dark-eyed Juncos and House Finches at the feeders, but we didn't see any on Christmas day.

I've been pruning trees in the woods the past couple of days, and I was thrilled to spot a Common Redpoll yesterday. It was the first one I had seen on our farm, and the second that I have seen in this area. They're relatively common in forests, but not our open fields and brushlots.

The Common Redpoll brings me to a random piece of information: the genus Carduelis is my favorite genus of American birds. Among the American birds in the genus is the:

Common Redpoll

American Goldfinch

Pine Siskin

Lesser Goldfinch

I yoinked these images from google image searches - thanks to the authors, whoever you are!

24 December 2007

Deja Vu

In A.D. 2005 December, we had complete snow cover 21 of the first 22 days of the month. All but 2 of the first 22 days had high temperatures below 0 degrees C., and there had been about 20 cm of snow on the ground three days before Christmas. Then the curse struck. Three rainy days at 10 degrees C. first turned the Winter Wonderland to slush, then melted it just in time for Christmas day.

Fast forward to A.D. 2007.

We had complete snow cover 21 of the first 22 days of the month. All but 2 of the first 22 days had high temperatures below 0 degrees C. , and there had been about 15 cm of snow on the ground three days before Christmas. Then the curse struck. Two rainy days at 10 degrees C. first turned the Winter Wonderland to slush, then melted it just in time for Christmas day.

If I hadn't witnessed it I wouldn't have thought it possible. Different years, EXACT same scenario.

On one hand I'm pissed off - this is four Christmases that I have lived here, and four without snow. On the other hand, I've come to expect these turns of events after four years of crappy winters.

In the winter of A.D. 2004/2005, we had almost no snow through the end of the first week in January. After that, we settled in to a "normal" pattern through the end of March.

In the winter of A.D. 2005/2006, the first three weeks of December were wonderful, but, as mentioned above, we lost our snow cover immediately prior to Christmas and didn't regain it until February 06. (the day the we got our youngest pup - hence, I remember the date) February and March of A.D. 2006 were characterized by "normal patters," but we had already lost a week in December, the entire month of January, and a week in February to abnormally warm weather.

In the winter of A.D. 2006/2007 we had the warmest December ever recorded, the least amount of snow ever recorded through January 01, and no lasting snow cover until the third week in January. After that, we experienced "normal" weather patterns through the end of March.

So far this winter we had an excellent first three weeks of December, but, as in A.D. 2005, we have lost our snow cover immediately prior to Christmas. I had been very excited about all of the hockey I would be playing this upcoming week, but now the weathermen are forecasting at least 7 days of temperatures above freezing (highs around 5 degrees C. - 5 to 10 degrees above normal). I can only hope that this current warm spell ends around the turn of the year, because I'll get really upset if it ends up turning into another winter of A.D. 2005-2006...

I know, I know, I bitch a lot this time of year. Well, I have been doing nothing but thank mother nature the past three weeks. Unfortunately, she never seems to give us consistently cold winter weather. Personally, I believe that the underlying problem is global warming. I know that may piss some of you readers off, but that's what I believe. I worry that our living on the historical border between "snow on the ground all winter" country and "snow on the ground off and on during the winter" country is going to go by the wayside, and that my son's winters on the farm will be marked by increasing warmth and decreasing snow cover. That really sucks for me, because a consistently cold and snowy winter is my idea of the perfect season. It's as if my favorite part of the year is slowly being taken away from me...

"Poor me..." Jesus, I sure am throwing one hell of a pity-party. It's time for me to stop whining and end this post. To all of you in colder climates, I envy you. If I don't post again before Tuesday, merry Christmas everyone.

05 December 2007


Too bad I couldn't embed this video. (I'm still a novice at "complex" posting!)

02 December 2007

Great Weather and a Plan for the N.H.L.

We had our first day with complete snow cover yesterday, and last night we received 10 cm to go with the 3 that we already had! I went snowshoeing this morning - it was great!

Warning: If you don't like hockey or ridiculous diatribes, stop reading now.

On a completely different topic, I was driving home on Friday listening to Schopp and the Bulldog on WGR Sports Radio 550 (out of Buffalo, New York) when they started talking about the 2008/2009 N.H.L. schedule. Mike Schopp discussed the possibility of adding a few games to the schedule if it would enable each team to play at least one home game against every other team in the league. I like the concept, but I have a plan to accomplish it without adding games...

Currently, there are 30 teams in the N.H.L. Quite frankly, that's way too many. In my "if I was commisioner of the N.H.L." scenario, I would immediately get rid of ten teams. Sorry if you're a fan, but there is no good reason for keeping the:

Atlanta Thrashers
Carolina Hurricanes
Florida Panthers
Nashville Predators
Los Angeles Kings
Minnesota Wild
New York Islanders
Phoenix Coyotes
St. Louis Blues
San Jose Sharks

Two teams would be relocated:

Dallas Stars back to Minnesota (where they would become the Minnesota North Stars...again)

Tamba Bay Lightning to Salt Lake City

Now you'd have 20 teams, and I'd organize them in this way:

Eastern Conference:
North Division:
01. Buffalo Sabres
02. Columbus Blue Jackets
03. Montreal Canadiens
04. Ottawa Senators
05. Toronto Maple Leafs
Atlantic Division:
01. Boston Bruins
02. Philadelphia Flyers
03. New Jersey Devils
04. New York Rangers
05. Washington Capitals

Western Conference:
North Division:
01. Calgary Flames
02. Chicago Blackhawks
03. Detroit Red Wings
04. Edmonton Oilers
05. Pittsburgh Penguins
Pacific Division:
01. Anaheim Ducks
02. Colorado Avalanche
03. Minnesota North Stars
04. Salt Lake City Team (former Tamba Bay Lightning)
05. Vancouver Canucks

Eastern Conference teams would play each Western Conference team only twice (one home and one away), creating 20 games on the schedule. North Division teams would play Atlantic division teams 4 times (two home and two away). That would add another 20 games. Finally, teams within a division would play each other 6 times (three home and three away). This would add another 24 games to the schedule, for a total of 64. In my opinion, a signficant improvement over the current 82 game schedule.

What do you think? Is the N.H.L. schedule too long?