31 October 2007

Hot and heavy with a cute Norwegian (stove)

This smart little stove is efficient, beautiful and amazingly high tech. It's 350 lbs of pure cast iron. The picture shows the inaugural fire. I think it's a fitting replacement for the old Franklin, which could not be salvaged. This marks a new level of comfort at the Shack.

Santa Paz endures an outrageously tall chimney for a night

The new stove and chimney were installed the other day. The chimney was obviously erected by someone with some kind of psychological condition relating to masculinity and poor aesthetic sense. I found this very disturbing.
After a sleepless night (mine) and some whining and cajoling, the chimney was brought down to a much more seemly height. I already felt a little bad about marring her beautiful and original appearance with a shiny chimney, but neither of the brick chimneys would have been suitable for actual use. Now the house is warm , safe and not too silly looking. I hope she approves.

29 October 2007

A first look

We showed up at the Shack this morning to find the garden plowed. The ground was frozen because it was cold last night for the first time. It's much easier to visualize as a garden now. I've picked a spot for the compost pile. I'll be collecting lots of leaves and weeds this year to get a start on compost for next year.

We've been buying our vegetables from Bryson Farms for about a year now, and really learning to a) eat lots of veggies and b) enjoy some pretty unusual leafy green oriental veggies. I'll definitely be planting lots of those cool season vegetables. Maybe by next summer we'll no longer require Bryson Farms to keep us in good local food.

22 October 2007

A chipmunk poses

M spent some time taking pictures of the locals yesterday. I love this portrait of Roo.

Steve has a weird dream

This is the story of Steve, the bat. Steve was hanging out one day, bothering no one. His sleep was disturbed by a balding fellow wielding a mason jar. Steve decided the best thing to do was go with the flow. He wasn't feeling all that energetic anyway, due to his having been woken from a very deep sleep. He stepped onto the jar, closed his eyes and went back to sleep. He had strange dreams of large creatures watching him, but stayed on the edge of the jar until night, when he joined his bat friends in the sky.

21 October 2007

What is it?

This strange machine has not been identified by any Shack visitors so far. Any ideas from the blog world?

16 October 2007

The milk house

This beautiful old shed is the former milk house. I can't imagine storing milk or making cheese or butter in it, but that's what was done. We're way too germ-phobic to even consider doing something like that now. I am looking forward to trying some traditional food storage ideas like using lactic fermentation for vegetables, or storing things in oil, without using heat or refrigeration. I'll monitor the temperature in the cellar this winter to see if its feasible to use it for a root cellar. The only problem I can see is that it might get too cold in the winter when the house isn't heated.

15 October 2007

It's the end of the world as we know it. And I feel fine.

In a hundred years we'll all be dead. Those of you that aren't may wish you were. Mother Earth will probably feel a little better after shedding a few billion viral humans, though. This moment of despair is brought to you courtesy of Blog Action Day, a day for bloggers everywhere to blog about the environment.

On the taking it one day at a time front, it was a lovely cool fall day today. I spent the day digging holes to check out my soil and marking out the garden, L put cedar shingles on the screen house roof, and M finished knitting a very funky hat. It doesn't get much better than that.

Yesterday, I reread The Humanure Handbook, by Joseph Jenkins. This is the ultimate in putting your money where your mouth is, or your shit where your compost is, anyway. Who knows? The outhouse does require a pretty significant remodel (and relocation) pretty soon, maybe we'll really go green, er brown, and compost everything. Better than shitting in your water, anyway. Happy Blog Action Day!

11 October 2007

In the mood for food

This is the apple orchard so far. Actually, it's one tree. There are other apple trees but no apples on any of them. Unfortunately, these apples are so mealy, I'm not sure they're good for anything.

Our neighbour has offered to plow the garden this fall, I just have to mark out where I want it. Since I won't have running water in the garden, I'm going to space things out quite widely, so it will be much larger than my previous intensive garden. A book which I've been studying pretty carefully is Gardening When it Counts by Steve Solomon. In addition to the how-to stuff, he talks about gardening to maximize nutrition. The subject of declining nutrition in food is covered very well by The End of Food by Thomas Pawlick, but Mr. Solomon offers some solutions. He also runs the Soil and Health library, which everyone should visit.

08 October 2007

Stitch the chipmunk

Stitch, the chipmunk, spent lots of time fetching peanuts and stashing them. He didn't seem bothered by having to get them from M's hand. It was a pretty good deal for them both. He got the peanuts, she got to interact with a wild creature. A small step towards a reasonable life.

We've arranged for a new woodstove and chimneys to be installed next week. This will be a pretty big leap in comfort at the Shack. It will seem less like camping when we have heat and cooking facilities. We do have to acquire and process some firewood, though. We will have to buy it this year. Even though we have lots of firewood on our 50 acres, it's all still standing upright and connected to its roots. Neither of us has any particular experience or expertise in lumberjacking, but we'll learn.

03 October 2007

Thanksgiving at the Shack

We're spending this weekend at the Shack. Dinner will not be cooked on the cookstove. Too many creatures in the chimney would be disturbed. The weather is forecast to be very warm, so we won't need to have any fire going indoors. Cocobean and Cheerio, the rats, will be coming with us. I wonder what the country mice will think of them?


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