Monday, March 21, 2011

Chop Wood.

No need to carry water.  The water line to the animal shed is thawed and flowing freely.  It had frozen in the un insulated wall and thawed when I cut the wall open and added  heat tape to the plastic piping.  And of course the warmer weather is really helping.  It's now hovering around zero and that's practically balmy after this winter.

The increased temperatures mean that we are heating the joint solely with the small living room heater.  No need to fire up the huge wood furnace and feed it hefty log parts.  The upstairs heater takes smaller split wood.

We have a system.  As the heaters in the animal shed and green house take the same type of wood. We can go through quite a lot.  Right now we don't have to burn wood in the green house or animal shed.  They both have small electric heaters.  The green house also has insulating curtains and this morning it was a toasty 26c.

When it gets below -20 we often have both living room heater and the big furnace fired up.  That takes two kinds of wood. Large rounds for the big furnace:

 and 16 inch split stuff for the smaller heaters.

We cut wood from our own wood lot - all dried, beetle killed pine, and store it under the balcony.  A door  to the basement provides easy access.  We use a small electric wood splitter which means we can cut wood in the comfort of the heated basement.  Well, sort of heated,  depending on the state of the downstairs furnace.  It makes the whole process a lot more comfortable.  With two of us doing it we can split a week's worth of wood in no time at all.  I load the wood, Jo-Ann pushes the buttons.  Well pushes the button, and pulls a lever.  Kinda looks like this:



Our first movie part we were a bit nervous..

I have been reading Plant Seed, Pull Weed by Geri Larkin  a gardener and Buddhist student and teacher.  She draws delightful lessons in life from parallels in gardening.  Something I have had on my mind lately.  I have grown fascinated by gardening over the last several years.  Heartbreaking failures and rewarding successes.  And as you might expect I think I have learned more from my failures than successes.  Simple things.  Paying attention.  Doing what is right in front of me.  One step at a time:  Something Geri refers to as "Small Doin's". Small things can have profound Spiritual significance.

I have been putting off working on my aged Skid-steer which has been slumbering in the heated garage.  Probably because the whole rebuild effort seems like too much sometimes.  My mechanical skill's just not up to the job.  Maybe today I will do some "Small Doin's" that will get it closer to the road again.  And liberate my garage/shop.  With the skid-steer floating on wood blocks off the floor, sans wheels,  there isn't a lot of room around it and stuff has been piling up bit by bit until I am stumbling over tools and parts.

I know the simple answer is to put stuff away after use,  but for various reasons - usually momentary expediency - that doesn't happen,  and eventually, sooner than later, irrevocably I get bogged down in project detritus.  Which makes moving on to the next project problematical.  And I have a pretty large project list.

Ah it's a sunny day and sometime during it I will take time to smell the tomatoes and ruffle the lettuce.

Hope your's is going well.  And you have time to smell your spiritual tomatoes.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It's Curtains


Made out of  five Quilts we bought at a second hand store in Prince George.  Just plopped some grommets in them and hung them off of double headed three inch nails.

Let's let the light in:

Heres the other way, I.E. towards the front door:
And Open:


Astounding what a difference they make.  My only regret was not doing it earlier - like in the depths of January and early February when the temperatures plummeted.  With only a small electric heater going last night it was 21.7C this morning when we checked.  Outside was only hovering just below zero.

I think the increase in daylight has got everything sprouting like crazy.  The tomatoes have a bunch of new blooms and ripening  Roma tomatoes.  Small but tasty. This time of year fresh tomatoes and table greens are very much appreciated.  On the task list for this week is to trim back the tomato bushes.

The Chinese cabbage has sprouted and will soon be out of the plastic lids.  Spinach and Lettuce need serial plantings to keep a continuous kitchen supply.  Jo-Ann has pictures of flowers that are starting to bloom in the green house.  A real pick me up!

The warm spell just seems invigorating after the last five months of snow.  Hope springs eternal in a
gardeners heart:


Soon these tires which sit on pallets will get forklifted back to the East side of the house and planted with flowers.  Well in a month or so..

Splitting wood today and then pushing back some more snow banks for as long as my stomach can hold it. I just wouldn't make a heavy equipment operator - just don't have the stomach for it.  Sucking on some raw ginger makes a difference.  And a hot cup of ginger tea right after seems to settle it right down.  My brother took pity on me and pushed back a large part of the driveway and the road up to Grandma's.   I still need to do  a couple of hundred meteres on the road and 250 or so to the wood lot.  That might take a couple of days.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Green House Goodness

Now that I have an exhaust fan working in the green house, coupled with the advent of warmer weather  growth has perked right up. The green house is heated with a wood heater and small electric heater during the coldest days and over night. A 1000 watts of HID lighting provides not only light but considerable heat also.  The problem is regulation. If the sun comes out, even briefly, the temperatures can soar.  And I thought the problem would be heating!  Adding a temperature regulated exhaust fan keeps the temperature at what ever I set it at.  Right now it's 32C. But it averages lower than that. The inside is approximately 16 degrees above ambient, without heating, and no sun. I've logged a 56 degree difference with heating.  I will augment the exhaust fan with an intake one to increase ventilation efficiency.  Six 45 gallon drums painted black, filled with water gather the heat and release it during colder periods. Coupled with the thermal mass of the soil filled tires, the combination moderates the temperature significantly.  I still don't have thermal shades hanging -  to slow the heat loss at night, maybe today.

Time for some more salads! Even the tomatoes have started to flower again and produce.  I may be working at odds with myself trying to grow both warm  and cool weather crops in the same room, but it seems to be working. I am planting Chinese cabbage in the bare tire. The lighting is a combination of natural, Metal Halide and High Pressure Sodium, so it looks a little weird in the picture. HPS  is not a flattering light for photographs.
This crop of Spinach is already going to seed!  Time to stagger the crops to ensure a regular harvest.  We never have a problem of too much Spinach - the Chickens are crazy for it. Summer or Winter.

There are some signs of a spring that it is sure taking the long way round getting here. I saw a dirt patch on Savory road the other day. On a South facing hill with the sun shining.  The gas line warning signs are sticking out of the snow so it's only about three feet thick now and melting. And the place is covered in pet hair..

 Ah well,  at least this year we won't have to go in search of dandelion greens to satisfy the fresh salad urge that comes after a long winter.

Today's chores include whacking up the weeks wood, hanging thermal shades in the green house and moving a freezer load of dog bones to a smaller one so we have room for 520 pounds of Pork and Pork products we pick up from the butcher today.

We're on the lookout for a couple of heritage pigs, like Red Wattles, to start the process again.

Hope your having a great week.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Chop Wood Carry Water

Back to the Basics.With a bit of a break in the cold we went down to Brother Tom's to get a few more loads of wood.  This is the easy way to get wood.

 The four in one bucket holds the logs up to make waist high cutting possible and then scoops up the blocks so I can stack them in the back of the truck.  Way faster and easier on the saw blade.  This is our new method for next winters wood, which we will get this summer, God willing, that it ever comes. I figure we go through about 12 cords of wood per season.

The water in the Blue shed has frozen up. The only reason I can think of is that without the pigs sipping on the water the short span of pipe that goes through the wall has frozen.  The pigs got processed last week and we are awaiting some hams, bacon, chops and Mennonite sausage.  Hopefully I can get it unfrozen today after I get another load of wood.  Or it's back to carrying water in a bucket. Chop wood, carry water. I do believe in the Spirituality inherent in doing everyday chores, but it is hard to beat the convenience of plumbed in water.

After the recent snow dump I've spent about eight hours plowing.. Much more snow and I will have to push the snow banks back by going across the road.  Tom just phoned and told me to look out the window down into the valley.

 He is plowing out a fellows kilometre long driveway that hasn't been done for quite a while.  He is having to push sideways and the banks have to be ten feet high. That job is going to take most of the day.

Not trusting the cold weather to be gone till next year I am going to spend some time with the log splitter making more split firewood for use in the upstairs heater, Green house and the Animal Barn.

And then maybe some work in the Green house.  Spinach and lettuce are table ready so we need to plant some more to keep a steady supply coming in. And maybe now that I have the ventilation working we can try some Hakuri turnips.

And then maybe I can put my feet up and argue with Kermit the Kat over the relative merits of using a mouse versus a pen based computer.  Kermit of course is old school and thinks the mouse is the only "right" way. And is quite vociferous in making his opinions known.

 Hope your staying warm and cozy.