Thursday, March 18, 2010

Winter Wrap-Up

(Seeing this picture again made me think of the carrots I lined up in this post.)

I don't want to jinx things by calling winter over, but let's face it: even if snow falls again, it's not staying long. This week with its sunny 60^ weather is doing a lot to convince us all that winter is gone for another year.

Looking back on this winter, it's definitely been the best yet for how comfortable the house was to be in. Several reasons, I think:

1. The winter wasn't quite as cold, and in particular didn't have the severe cold snap we had last year.

2. Troy was able to produce enough biodiesel to run the oil stove in the kitchen pretty much full time. When he first installed it, I called it "my new best friend" and it proved itself worthy of the title again this year.
It kept the kitchen very warm (often in the 70s) and that, of course, kept the rest of the house from getting too bad. For instance, I never noticed the living room was 42^ when I got home from work (which happened regularly last year). The lowest I saw this year was 50^. Those eight little Farenheit degrees make a big difference!

3. Troy insulated the kitchen windows and outside walls. We did not need to insulate the floor this year. (Although you could still notice when you stepped onto the portion of the floor built onto the concrete stoop.)

I also learned some lessons, and for instance when the back appliance room was particularly cold (being neither heated nor really insulated), I ran the heated dry cycle on the dishwasher to avoid water freezing in the tuperware containers.

This year, I definitely spent less time huddled in front of the woodstove unable to get up and work in a different area of the house. (Don't get me wrong, it was still my favourite place to be, but I could will myself to leave.)

I should add: 4. The cars were in a heated shop. I think about half way through the winter, we were able to put the cars in the shop. Even though this doesn't affect the house temperature, it definitely made a difference in how often the "cold and miserable" meter hit intolerable.

In light of the warmer temps, insulated kitchen and oil stove, we burnt less wood this year as well. We emptied just over two of our five racks (compared with 3.5 last year, I believe). We are now left with 1.75 racks full, a lot more than other years.

But still we must replace what we used and Isaac has been up to his usual spring break work of splitting wood and restocking our supply. He and Troy cut down a tree that was dead and far too near the shop for Troy's comfort. It's always exciting to see a tree fall! (And no cars were hurt in this case.)

After making short work of that tree, Isaac and Troy tackled one of the huge trunk pieces still from when we had the big maple trees removed in 2007.

With a lot of help from the tractor, they got one piece off of the pile. It was far too big for the chainsaw to be able to cut it to length, so they set it up to drive in wedges in an attempt to split it.

They managed...barely. At one point all 4 wedges were driven in seemingly as far as they could go and they thought they were stuck. But they continued and slowly got the wood to budge.

They finally did get it to split, and then Troy could use his chainsaw to cut it in half.

Here is one quarter of the trunk they were working on:

Here is the other half (still not cut to length):

Isaac split some of the larger pieces. They needed some help from the tractor as they moved them to the splitter and positioned them.

One piece did end up being too much for the poor splitter. It did actually split the wood, but then the wedge got stuck in the wood (which sometimes happens). As it was lifted, the bar that's supposed to push the wood off of the wedge broke a weld instead:
Isaac laid off the really big pieces after that. Troy will have to fix it later.

And I'll leave you with a picture of spring:
I didn't plant these bulbs (snowbells?) and don't have anything like them as far as I remember. Some squirrel kindly planted them for me from a neighbour's garden, I presume!

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