Normally, frost flowers form during the first hard freeze in late fall. Frost flowers form as water freezes just underground and is forced up through dormant plant tissue. The plant tissue acts as a mold for the ribbons of ice that are then extruded from the ground in the shape of the plant stem.
Several native plants form frost flowers but the species we have here that forms them is White Crownbeard (Verbesina virginica). I suppose the long, sustained cold snap we’ve had this last week allowed them to grow and keep growing until they were covered with snow yesterday. Here are several of the frost flowers I photographed the day before the snow.
Sinkholes are numerous on the karst landscape of the Ozarks, but are often overlooked. After a large rainfall event, sinkholes throughout the area temporarily fill up with water and become ponds. During most events, falling rain percolates through the karst system in these various sinkholes quickly enough that water doesn’t accumulate above the surface. With at least 7″ of rain over 48 hours, there are plenty of sinkholes that cannot drain quickly enough. All of these photos are between Pearl Creek Farm and Cotner’s Corner (US 160 and MO 123 junction).
I love data. It turns out there’s a lot to track around the farm and I keep a variety of databases to do the heavy lifting for me. My database of choice is PostgreSQL, a poster child for open source software, which probably means nothing unless you’re a geek like me. This post is the first in a series that shows the various ways that we do science at Pearl Creek Farm!
It’s a good year for frost flowers. These “flowers” form during the first really cold nights of the fall. Basically, water is forced up through the stems of certain species of plants and is forced outward, forming intricate patterns. Most of these frost flowers formed on the stems of Verbesina virginica, White Crownbeard.
This is by far the most frost flowers I’ve ever seen in the wild. This is the third time I’ve seen them at Pearl Creek Farm. The other times I saw one or two only. There are more than two dozen out there now!
We went to great lengths to protect the water lines underneath the bathroom. I never dreamed the water lines for the kitchen, protected by a sub-basement, would cause any problems. Boy, was I wrong. The photograph below doesn’t look too bad, but imagine it filled with books and important papers. Luckily, this area was mostly filled with things we were probably going to discard anyway (or might have kept, but probably didn’t really need) and old version of books that I’ve since updated.
Still, there were definitely a few heartbreakers in here. This is a partial pile of them. There will be more to succumb, I’m sure, but I’m holding out hope.
The first thing I saw when I went downstairs was my old TRS-80, still in its original box. It was completely soaked. I have contemplated many times getting it out and taking it for a spin, but I’ve never gotten around to it. I thought this would make the decision for me, but the electronics inside seem untouched.
There was a bright spot, though, for at least one person in the family. While we were cleaning up, Julian discovered Alex’s abandoned toy room in the basement. Even if that area had gotten wet, it wouldn’t have caused any long-term damage except to the carpet remnants.
Anyway, Julian scavenged a couple of new Batman toys and brought them upstairs to play. I have a feeling he’s going to want to visit again soon.
The prognosis? Michelle called a plumber who also happens to be our neighbor. He’s on-site in Branson right now and hasn’t slept for two days. Apparently, pipes have been bursting all over the Ozarks. The earliest he can stop by will be Saturday and that’s not a definite. Fortunately, we have a shutoff valve for the water lines going to the kitchen so we’re not completely without water for the house.
Although Sunday night was supposed to be as low as it was going to get, it actually got quite a bit colder on Monday night. Fortunately, the temperature didn’t get much colder than this during the overnight hours. In fact, it warmed up and we woke up to a balmy 2oF above zero!
I’m hoping this “polar vortex” scoots on out of here for the rest of the winter. I think we’ve all had enough of it.