"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority ... the Constitution was made to guard against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Noah Webster

"There is no worse tyranny than forcing a man to pay for what he does not want just because you think it would be good for him."
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Friday, November 5, 2010

Preparing for Cold

Moxie likes the creek
Winter is really just about here. It's not really about a date on the calendar.  Twyla says that this fall has been nothing like last fall.  She said the locals told her that there is no such thing as "Indian Summer" up here.  Maybe it's just about perception, but Twyla and I both consider the past couple of weeks to have been an Indian Summer.  When by 10:00 hours I am stripped down to a tee shirt and I'm sweating while doing chores in the yard, I'd call that warm.

But yesterday, it never really got above 52° F and while I could tolerate a short sleeve tee shirt underneath, I needed a vest.  I split my time between planting seedlings and making plant labels  and pre-painting the new stove pipes for installation.  I'd have concentrated on the stove only, but drizzly rain made that a non-starter. Can't exactly be cutting a hole in the roof in those conditions, now can I?

The old 1913 Karr woodstove just has too many problems.  Having new parts cast at a foundry would be outrageously expensive, so we decided to cut our losses and just go with a new woodstove.  We looked at three different styles and debated the pros and cons of them.  Twyla is such an artist, and aesthetics are pretty important to her.  Being the typical male, and pretty averse to any attachment to inanimate objects (i.e. I don't name things), I would have just gone with the most practical type.  There was a short little stove that had a broad flat top with two "burners," the round plates that sit above the fire pit. I kinda liked the look of it and it was less money. Twyla thought it was too short and not very attractive at all.  She liked the barrel shaped stove that some would consider a Franklin stove.  Better to not have regrets over the decor down the road, so the extra weight and price were not worth worrying about.  Even I have to admit that this stove looks a lot nicer than the others.
Swiss Chard, Cabbage, Romaine, Butter Crunch Lettuce
For purposes of scale; those tiles are 12" square.  It will be perfect for cooking a big pot of soup or chili on top.  With a "tent" of aluminum foil I can bake a loaf of bread on top.  The important thing is that we are going to be able to take advantage of all the free deadfall wood around here, as well as all the trees I will need to thin out in the future.  It doesn't take much of a fire in one of these to make the central part of the house comfortable.  When you have to keep it hot enough to cook on, you are going to want to be in the cooler parts of the house anyway.

The old Karr doesn't have to go to waste either.  Come late summer, when we will be full bore into canning again, it would be really convenient to have a wood burning stove outside.  Leaking panels and broken doors won't matter.  But having a nice, big, flat iron cooking and working surface outside where it won't be heating up the house will be wonderful.  I thought of just the place for it past the west end of the house near where the fire pit is.  I just need to level off a spot big enough for it.
Looking west at the creek

It seems that the timing for this is just about perfect, as we are supposed to get our first frost temperatures by tomorrow morning.  Twenty-seven degrees according to accuweather.com.  I've had the clear plastic up in the front porch for over a week now.  It seems to work well as a greenhouse. Everything I've got planted out in the yard is cold hardy, down to about 22° F.

As a matter of fact, the weather was so warm for the past month, that instead of the Romaine forming the way you see it in the store, it wanted to bolt (go to seed) and got all gangly. No affect on the taste.  All the greens that come out of our garden taste really great.  They don't have that old bitterness to them that I've noticed from supermarket produce.

The broccoli are starting to get nice heads on them. The iceberg lettuce and the cabbage are starting to head nicely as well.  I still don't see any Brussel sprouts on the stalks, but I've never grown them before.  The greens grow so well in the old straw bale piles that we have been eating from them for two months and they just keep producing.  I picked something like 5 gallons of assorted greens one day last week.  Swiss chard, a little loose cabbage leaf, Romaine, and Butter Crunch lettuce. I chopped it all up and sauteed it all until wilted. That reduces the volume to about one sixth of the original.  Twyla used it to make the most awesome vegetarian lasagna.  In the cleaning and chopping process, all the stems and discolored parts get diced up for the chickens, which they go wild for.

I haven't seen any deer in a while.  Makes me worry that I won't get any venison before Channukah.

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