Thursday, January 08, 2015

ordinary extraordinary cold

Extraordinary cold.  We usually get it at least once during the winter, cold in the single digits, either above or below zero.  "Normal" coldest temps are usually somewhere around 40 high and 20 low but you know there is variability in that.  We can have weeks that it stays below freezing 24/7, the coldest I've ever seen it was -33F in 1985 which was truly extraordinary -- there wasn't much people could do but try to survive that.  I remember people getting their batteries out of their car and putting it in the bathtub to warm it up.  All kinds of water was frozen.  My boyfriend wondered if his guitar was going to crack.  So I guess then that this is the ordinary extraordinary cold.  You know that this is likely and hopefully you know what to do.

So, what do we do to prepare for a night near zero and several days highs only in the mid-20s?  One is wood of course.  We didn't have to do anything extraordinary this year because we'd just hauled up about 3 cords of standing dead mostly poplar, so all we have to do is saw that up into rounds and then split it and bring it in.  It isn't the dryest so we make sure the creel is full and that there is plenty of twiggery and kindling.  You might see fancy kindling in stores or catalogs but to me it is the chips left over from splitting the wood.  Sure, if I come to a nice straight grained log, I might split it smaller but if I have a nice hot fire and come to the small stuff in the creel, it will NOT get fed into the fire.  Right now most of the wood is the same species, but when we are cutting smaller limb wood, we'll also choose the species to determine the heat of the fire.

Anyway.  We make sure we have plenty of wood ready for all the stoves.  If it is going to snow, which it didn't this time, we'll also stockpile water because if the electric goes out, it is pretty much only water that we miss.  But this cold, the water system would freeze if we didn't do a few extra things for it.  We put it in so that helps.  The "well head" is tarped anyway (a spring feeds a buried cistern and a pump is in that) and as long as the water is plentiful, it takes a lot to freeze it.  Running water is that way.  But this cold we put a lantern under the tarp.  There is a narrow place where the pressure tank is in the basement and that will freeze sometimes -- we that gets checked to make sure it is covered.  There is one other spot where the pipe runs close to the surface of the ground and we'll put something over that -- a box, some leaves, anything.

When we moved up here we were wondering how deep we really had to bury the water pipe -- an important question since we were hand burying it.  So during cold nights we took short lengths of pipe and filled them with water and buried one a foot deep, one six inches, and one on the surface.  It takes a lot, for a long time, for the cold to go down.  And it isn't that it won't but that it won't often and by and large you can deal with that.  When we lived in the old old trailer, when we very first moved up here, we'd have to drain the whole water system for nights like that.  It was doable.

But that is one thing I notice -- that we are willing to put up with things and do things that other people aren't willing to do.  And also, we're not willing to put up with things other people are willing to put up with.  Like debt.  Like enslavement.  Like exploiting others or being exploited ourselves.  Like living in a place we don't like.  Little things like that.

So mostly that is it, wood (with a little coal) for fires (the coal helps to hold it over night), and water.  Hay and food (and water) for the animals are even more important in the cold.  Supplies.  But generally we have those.  Hopefully we are not out when we are getting the next.  The washing machine is outside so it gets a dose of alcohol but it gets that all winter long.  We're not gonna try to do laundry in temps like this.  We feed the fire and eat in temps like these.

Maybe first should have been STAY HOME, which of course the world could use with a lot more people staying home a lot more anyway . . .

(and then, some days later, there is preparing for the wet.  The car won't come up in the wet.  Get wood in before it gets wet -- even tho it won't be cold.  Etc.)

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