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Sunday, October 12, 2008

To ready up for winter

Refugees[posted by risa]

October 12 -- first frost.

Mostly it hit the squash vines and the stevia. Everything else, even the tomato crop, seems to be soldiering on. Nevertheless I took the hint, and gathered up the three most heavily green-tomato-laden vines -- a Brandywine and two Romas -- and hauled them to the potting shed to hang; we'll see what happens. I had brought in the basil plants and hung them up by the fire to dry the day before. All the remaining green tomatoes I brought in; I'm not fond of fried green tomatoes (except as a book) but I did make a green tomato pesto that I liked. Anything that's half-turned we set out on paper in a window to see if it will ripen; most do.

There were a few zukes among the blasted squash leaves and I took those as well, and gathered the remaining sunflower heads and some bean vines for the poultry. It occurred to me that I haven't been making much mulch the last couple of months, so I got out the electric shredder and made about thirty pounds of chips from sunflower and pepper and sunchoke stalks.

Earlier, after breakfast, I sat by the fire cutting open feed sacks to lay out flat and roll up. I've begun using them to create more dead air space in the tiny crawl space that serves here for an attic, along with bubble packs, styro peanuts, cardboard, and pretty much anything else we can get our hands on.

It's a struggle to get up there as the hatchways are right up under the rafters and I have to squirm like a caterpillar to negotiate the opening. It's completely dark up there, so I've installed the trouble lamp to see for the time being. There's no floor; the ceiling fortunately is made of very sturdy one-by sixes nailed to the underside of the ceiling joists; but one has to negotiate the joists anyway to avoid roiling up the matted fiberglass insulation, only about two inches thick, between them.

The obvious thing to do is get more fiberglass, R-17 or better, but we're out of money for this kind of thing and as we don't maybe have as much wood as we should, for this winter, I'm beefing up the best way I can, mostly with poly sheeting that's had several uses already, such as for drop cloths for painting, and the ubiquitous and numerous feed sacks. These are of three varieties: woven white plastic, patterned after burlap; kraft paper with white plastic insides; and kraft paper inside and out with 1/2 mil polyethylene sandwiched between. Cut open and spread, the bags cover an area about four by six feet each, and I tack them down at one end, then stretch them taut across the joists, tacking down as I go with the hammer tacker. Not very much R-value, I suppose; yet I can tell that it helps; the house already is appreciably warmer. And to think we went fifteen winters before we got around to even this! Shiftless critters...

Beloved has been processing more apples, and planning storytime and music programs, and practicing guitar; so she's within hollering distance to pass things through the tiny hatch to me as as I run out of them. She says that I look like a big bug in my hoodie, mask, and goggles. Whatever.

Oh! She wants you to see some of her eggplants:

We've ordered a pitcher pump and a foot valve, and they have arrived, so when the attic is done, being able to get water when the power is off will be a priority. Then when it has rained enough to soften the ground some, we'll move the deer fence and start making the long permanent beds. GWATCDR (God-Willin'-And-The-Crick-Don't-Rise).

So, that's us. What are you doing to ready up for winter?


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