Sunday, January 11, 2015

Fresh Snow

Doesn't take long for a lot of little feet
to stir up the fresh snow.
With 4-6" of snow on the ground now it feels more like the winter I expected this year.  Shoveling, chores, wood hauling and the like have really churned up the "white perfection" motif over the last couple of days but idyllic picturesque snowscapes never move me much after the first good snow of the season.  Once again we have snow in the forecast so before too long I expect we'll have our fresh coat on the ground and no doubt more shoveling and grumbling from me.

It's not all bad, of course.  The additional snow coverage will protect the soil and many of our plants from the most severe aspects of the wind and cold and even the swales with their optimal south-facing solar gain have a measurable blanket of protection.  This is New England though, so in 2 weeks I might be looking at bare ground again (who knows) but while the snow is here, benefits it will provide. (continued)

Still looking at 20-25° daytime highs for the most part but nights in the teens or single digits are much less problematic than the -8° low we hit last Thursday.  That's also not accounting for windchill. Suffice it to say, everyone was buttoned up snug as we could manage and everyone made it through the night, if perhaps in less than perfect comfort.  Nothing like "frozen hell" to make merely "freezing" look appealing.

The old saying goes, "Heating with wood warms you twice" during the physical work to split, stack, and move it then again when you burn it for heat.  Perhaps it's no surprise to you, but if so let me be the first to let you know that burning wood for heat is beautiful, relaxing, and sustainable while burning calories for warmth is sweaty, painful, and limited.

1000 Robinia Psuedoacacia seeds from
our friends at Intuitive Permaculture
As we work our way through the woodpile and the supplemental splitting which was part of our original winter plan, Mrs. Farmer and I are (when we aren't throwing stones, sticks, or axes at each other) discussing ways to improve the process overall.  Tree systems may be much more regenerative than fossil fuels but a few years of planning and planting will go a long way towards sustainability and efficiency.  One major improvement would be in wood specie. If softwoods are bad, and hardwoods are good then what is top notch premium?  Where is the the most burn for your bark going to come from? Robinia Pseudoacacia.

Sure they COULD go outside
but their feet would be COLD!
R.P. more commonly known as black locust may yet fall short to some superior tree out there for fuelwood, but if so I have yet to hear of one. It is a tree that grows fast, with incredibly dense wood, as it also provides fertility to the soil (it's a nitrogen fixing tree), food for animals (the leaves are high in nutrient and protein), and responds well to coppice maintenance (an ideal way to harvest firewood).  I have high hopes for what we will be able to do in the future growing such trees and seeing just how much of an impact the improved efficiencies will have.  Step 1, germinate and plant some of these seeds.

Right now though I'm feeling chilly just talking about the cold. So I'm going to put another log on the fire, check the draft at the windows and doors again, and maybe meditate on some Springtime happy thoughts.

Thanks for stopping by.

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