Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The cold begins

It's probably about 11 or 12 degrees F outside right now, which is not that cold for around here, but cold enough that we can begin to get the idea. Winter is here. Friday night is supposed to be around zero F.

I already plowed snow once, too. Another sign.

The new extension, as yet unused and unheated, is acting as a bit of a heat sink, but not as bad as I thought it might. When we finally finish the unending finish work, and finally can afford to buy some furniture to go in it, then we'll probably also add a small electrical heater in the far corner, to take the chill off and even out the cold gradient.

I'd rather not do this, of course. Running an electrical heater much of the winter can be expensive. But the shape of the house is all wrong for that. If our house had properly designed, instead of being built in stages over 114 years, we'd have made it as square as possible and put an efficient wood stove right smack in the middle of the square. But back when it was first built, it appears the main house was built first and the kitchen added as an extension. Part of the intent with the original kitchen design was probably to provide a place to cook in summer that was cooler than the rest of the house. It's essentially a separate wing. Now we've added another separate wing. The wood stove is not really in a central position, and so you either heat the kitchen to 85 degrees to get the corners up to a comfortable 68, or you add a little boost. We use little electrical baseboard-type heaters to take the chill off in the corners, and I don't have one yet for the extension. I need to pick one up, which means a run to town, something I won't have time for until school gets out Friday.

The sheep are feeling the cold a little too, but what they want isn't heat but more food. They've been going through two bales a day on the coldest days, which is too much, plus about half a scoop of oats mixed with a little sweet feed each. New hay comes Thursday, organized through the Unity College Woodsman club because we're too busy to get it and because the truck is on the fritz still. The sheep will be more economical to feed once we get them out of their mating season and back into the barn. They'll eat a little less, and waste less hay because feeding will be centralized.

I'm pretty toasty right now, though, with a cup of hot coffee, and the oil heater running. The woodstove had died down overnight, and I knew I needed to run the furnace a little to test it out -- it get used very little -- so this was a good opportunity. And it might be a good day for oatmeal. Or maybe pancakes. High carbs. That's what we need.

Winter hasn't changed much for country folk over the centuries. The antidote to cold is still to burn things, inside and out.

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