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Friday, October 23, 2009

Cold shoulder

[Blogged by candlelight. The whole neighborhood has gone dark in the storm.]

The weather was gorgeous (that was yesterday), so Last Son came over to consult with us on his thoughts for the other side of the creek. Long time readers will remember that I had planted that hillside with willow whips in hopes of coppicing them for firewood in a few years. I had success with this idea in the past, but this time the willows were caught in a drought, and I was overwhelmed everywhere and did not bring them water often enough. So I told the young fella the area, a little less than half an acre, was available for whatever he might have in mind.

"I was thinking hops."

"A hopyard?"


"My, that's ... it's a lot of work. The trellising alone is like you're setting up an antenna to phone Jupiter or someplace."

"I'm not doing much else."

So we walked it over yesterday, and I explained the problems.

"The slope is northeast, not south, and that part flooded all the way up to here in '97, and this upper bit is too dry every year as it was a log deck once, and is super compacted, which is why it only grows Queene-Anne's lace, yarrow, and sourweed. Plus it's right by Mrs. T's house, and commercial hops wants to be twenty-five feet tall. It's a hair too steep to till, too."

"How would you handle it?"

"Well ... well, I would cut the ashes and maples to get in more light, deer-fence all the way round, cover the entire place with cardboard and straw, plant it to fava beans, scythe that crop the following year, mark it off, get dwarf rhizomes, plant them, trellis to only twelve feet, using the tripod method, put a pump in the second well and run soaker hoses, then market the rhizomes to homesteaders instead of building an oast house and trying to process all the flowers."

"Uh huh, so when do we start?"

So, he and I spent the day firewooding and pulling stumps with the pickup and a wire rope, block and tackle. It's really nice to be doing this together; maybe he will be around more now that he's investing some sweat equity.

Today, though, I was home alone, and the clouds sat down on the hills and proceeded to try and make up for not raining much since, oh, last year.

We would need an indoor project.

The story so far: Take one sunless corner of a room that was once a garage and has been a bedroom sometimes, storage room otherwise, with a plywood floor laid over 1X lumber on a cement floor.

Take up the plywood in the chosen corner. Treat and polyurethane the bit of wall where the old hot water heater on the other side leaked, years ago.

Take one 102" Craigslist freebie cabinet and cut it down to fit in a 91" space. Paint it white.

Drag it in through the entry way, where it does not fit around any corners, stand it on end (very high ceiling), rotate it, drop it slowly into the washroom, back it into the spare room, rest, stand it on end again, rotate it again, drop it slowly into the corner, walk it back to the wall.

Bring the potatoes, apples, turnips, beets, onions, dried vegs, grains, and beans and park them in the corner.

Now punch two holes through the exterior wall (it helps at this point to own your own place, which you plan never to sell). Here we are trying this at 1.5 inch diameter -- one hole near the foundation, one near the ceiling. This is for airflow to keep the temperature down.

Insert pipes to fit snugly. Cover the ends with screening (you will need to inspect your screens periodically).

Isn't this fun? Who would watch television when they can be poking holes in their house instead?

So, next, since Craigslist hasn't been generous with lumber, insulation and solid-core doors lately, is a bit of shopping to build the fourth wall. And a way to get in.

Beloved got home from work, and we had dinner together: tomato-vegetable soup with polytunnel greens for me, ratatouille on rice for her. Afterwards we went on a tour of the day's work.

"Oh, I like it! Will there be more cabinets?"

"When we find some. They should hang on the wall so the big grain cans will sit underneath."

"And hooks. We could have hooks, and if anyone gives us a smoked shoulder of mutton, we could hang it here in the cold room."

"Yes. Cold shoulder."


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