Monday, February 17, 2014

Some Say In Ice....

Guest post by Baloo:

When I was getting a master's degree in English (What was I thinking?) forty-odd years ago, I found out that Henry David Thoreau was rather full of baloney with his Walden cabin and all. The cabin was right on the edge of town, and when he got tired of pounding nails he strolled into the 19th-Century equivalent of Starbucks and rhapsodized with his cronies about how all the other people in the world should live their lives, a habit still popular in coffee houses to this day, especially in New England.

So we should all take the proto-hippie's writings with a grain of salt, along with all his transcendentalist colleagues.  I certainly do.

But here we have something completely different. Jeff Fullerton seems to be dealing with actual weather here, and it leads him to some conclusions much more interesting than Thoreau's:


As Hell Continues to Freeze: The Hearth is the Heart of Home
by Jeff Fullerton
born2bewild1962@gmail.com


Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

My friend Ray from Wisconsin and I have a name for the kind of weather currently gripping the nation: Norseman's Hell!

It derives from the Norse mythology—that of the people also known as the Vikings who believed that Hell is a very cold place and that end of the world was a dark and eternal winter. It's understandable how any people who live in a cold northern climate might come to believe something like that given that under primitive conditions—cold weather is very hostile to human life—and most other life for that matter.

Given the uncertain nature of weather and climate—there has long been a deep underlying fear among those who live in the temperate regions of Earth that maybe someday Spring might never come and the cold, lean times of winter might go on forever. There have surely been times in both ancient and recent history where fluctuations in the climate driven by changes in the sun's output or volcanic eruptions ejecting ash and other particulates into the atmosphere might have convinced people—for a while anyway that such a scenario was coming true.

Like 1816—AKA: The Year Without a Summer—cold snaps with snow and frost occurring throughout the growing season in the northeastern US and widespread crop failures, famines and civil unrest throughout Europe and parts of Asia. That is believed to have been caused by the dimming of the sun from a series of volcanic eruptions piggybacked onto the tail end of the Little Ice Age which ended circa 1850. And it was that period in History that brought about the abandonment of the Viking settlements in Greenland and Newfoundland established during the Medieval Warm Period. Similar episodes that caused such hardships may have been a contributing factor to the collapse of other societies down through the ages. And to top it all—the Mt Toba eruption some 70,000 years ago (during the height of the last Ice Age!) that is believed to have caused a genetic bottleneck in the Human species by reducing the global population down to perhaps a few hundred or thousand in a small area of Africa from which the world was repopulated again.

Is it any wonder we might doubt—even fear that that spring might never return?

Kind of like what I am feeling now. In the midst of my current struggles to deal with what is looking to be a fairly severe winter the likes of which I have not seen in a good while.

Since my late adolescent / early adult years back in the 1970s and 80s.

And it seems to be coming around again.

Several weekends ago picking up from the end of the first article in this thread when I started cutting up the trees that Bruce the Historian had dropped—the going was pretty good-

Until the saw gave out on me.

Had cut up the top of the big tree and dragged the pieces around the arc of the sand beds to make obstacles to discourage the deer from nibbling which they have been doing a little bit on the shrubs. Left the saw sitting on a log and went to do other things with the greenhouse and such and came back late afternoon to take off the vines and small branches and continue cutting up the larger branches and then parts of the trunk on both ends. Got stuck a few times but was able to get out and went to cut another section and the blade would not move.

Tried shutting it down and started it back up and the same thing. Took it inside to the kitchen table and took the cover off where the blade and chain attach and cleaned it off and checked the gas and oil. Added a little more of the latter and then went outside to try again. Same problem plus it was getting hot and smoking. I'm thinking the chain brake got stuck or the clutch burned out—or both. Called my mentor—and he thought it might be the same. Was having serious thoughts about getting a new one when I took it back to the dealer to have it serviced. A backup might not be such a bad idea given the stakes of my situation.

Actually, all was not bad. Managed to get a fair amount of wood cut—more than enough big logs to get thru the coming cold snap—and then there is still a good bit of trunk left—plus the Ash we dropped on Saturday. And a smaller cherry plus the upper part of the one that I was working on Friday that will make a few nights worth of small pieces.If I got another saw or could get the one I have now repaired the next day—I could go right back at it as soon as the extreme cold abated. There is another big cherry I want down and another one with multiple trunks that my friend was a little worried about—but I could probably get it myself working at a leisurely pace. Between that and my remaining stockpile of short logs—I could get to spring without the load I ordered from the mill. Was thinking for a while earlier today about calling and asking them if they could deliver sooner—but no point in getting crazy. It looked like I might get by on the original timetable.

From that point forward my attention was focused on the coming cold. Reading a message from Ray in Wisconsin I was wondering how could it be "above normal" in his neck of the woods when the cold that will be hitting my place full force in another day was not even here yet. Then again, 5 above might be considered "above normal" in Wisconsin. Or it was a fast moving clipper system that had yet to get there? That seemed to be the case.

Anyway it was in the 30s on Sunday afternoon—what I consider seasonable for this time of year and pretty much balmy in comparison to the previous bouts of cold. And what was yet to come. Monday was to be the day forecast to go downhill and by Tuesday the bottom would really drop out with highs in the teens and subzero conditions at night for a couple days before moderating back to seasonal. Looking at the long range things looked a bit crazy with one day near 50 degrees and then single digits at night! Not sure if that forecast is set in stone this far in advance. It would surely change in the meantime.

Ready to hunker down. But still had to get enough wood moved down to the furnace to get me thru the next few days. Was burning a mix of old and new wood to help the new green stuff combust better. Next winter I plan on having a good stockpile built up plus some coal to fall back on. Hate burning coal but if I have time to manage it—it makes a few extra BTUs on cold nights or days when I am in the greenhouse and want some extra warmth in there.

Monday came and maybe not so desperate after all. Took the saw to the shop on the way to work and had it checked. It was something simple. A fouled sprocket in the blade tip. Fixable with several blasts of an air compressor. And the guy fixed the kill switch too. Only 5 bucks plus 7 for the blade left for sharpening. Sure beats $300 plus for a new saw!

Never the less; having an extra is a good investment but I will maybe put a downpayment on one and get it eventually so I can break it in cutting out the hollow I want cleared come spring. But the next big challenge: the coming cold snap loomed. Looked not quite as brutal as the last one so far but longer in duration. With a working saw I should be fine until the wood delivery got here in a few weeks.

Tuesday: Norseman's Hell slowly descended on Pennsylvania again.

It was still decent seasonable weather when I left for work the previous afternoon.

Loaded up the firebox beforehand in case my four hour shift turned into an eight as I discovered when I checked voicemail leaving the saw shop. I volunteered to stay and pick up some OT with the expectation of going home early if things quieted down. Which did not happen because as we were shutting down the back station we got slammed with ambulances and a patient that was transferred down from the acute neuro unit. Then a bunch of us spent a couple hours playing "Twister" with a combative drug overdose who was found hypothermic in a parking lot and brought in by private vehicle. Good thing for him it happened that night and not a day or so later when the really frigid conditions arrived!

Getting home it was still only down to the upper 20s and there were a few logs left. Reloaded again to get me thru the night. House still holding at 68 this morning—but only down to low 20s outside. The worst was still yet to come. Didn't even want to think—let alone talk about it.

Was off the following day and my Aunt canceled the doctor's appointment I had traded days to be off for—yet I could not blame her. And all the better to stay home and look after things. Thought it be a good idea to try out the saw and see if I could get the remainder of the big cherry cut up while the high is still in the 20s as opposed to teens and single digits. I could knock off a little at a time under more frigid conditions but concerns over the wood being harder to cut because of increased density. And I put my leather jacket aside and broke out my old Air Force parka! Glad they did not make me to turn it in when I left the service in 94!

The day turned out better than expected. Never the less, because of the bitter cold it took a while to get up the motivation to go out and sweep out a path to the heater and greenhouse. And still wood in the furnace late afternoon and I added a big round of cherry plus some long logs from the dwindling pile of long pieces. Planned to throw in two more new cherry logs later and reload the remainder with wood from my stockpiles to see how it did overnight. Hoping if I stayed on top of things I might be able to hold the house at 68 degrees.

Hoping.

Hoping.

Made a short visit to the greenhouse. Kind of dark and gloomy inside with snow on the glazing outside. Decided to leave it for a day or two because it would help insulate and save fuel. The remainder of the big cherry Bruce felled on Saturday looked intimidating where it lay in the field. Now covered in snow. Saw was gassed and ready. Put on my parka and went up to see if I could cut it up before dark. That would give me plenty of wood for the duration of the arctic snap if I succeed.
I messaged a few friends to wish me luck!

It went pretty well.

With the exception of one last section that still needed to be cut into 3 pieces with a partial cut in it—I now had plenty of big cherry logs to get me thru the current arctic incursion in combination with my other wood. And once things moderated it would be a simple matter to cut up the remains of the smaller cherry and the ash tree once I correct the sprocket problem again.

Yes—It seized up once more when I went back at that last cut in the final section. Almost the same as before so I that time I was not frustrated or in panic mode—knowing it should be a simple problem to solve and thankfully it happened after I got more than enough logs to cover immediate need. Now just a matter of rolling them down as needed. Did some that night to have enough to load up in the morning and again the following night and would try to get more in the morning. Saw no point busting my chops to get it all down and stacked neatly in one setting. Will start doing that later when I am getting ready for next season to have dried logs that will burn more efficiently.

Now I was set with the firewood needed to whether the cold snap. Finally! I could maybe kick back a little and start thinking about fish and other things. But also needed to get on that generator—which will go a long way toward protecting my greenhouse investment not to mention the plumbing and hot water baseboards and radiators in the house!
Shoveled out in the evening while the meatloaf was cooking. I sure earned that feast. Was supposed to be the meal I was going to fix for my Aunt and Uncle before they canceled their appointments because of the cold.

Things were going smoothly until later that night going into Wednesday morning.
Down to minus two at O-dark thirty! Still short of the minus five in the forecast but it will probably drop more going into daybreak. The house started loosing ground after midnight when it slipped a degree to 67 and then down another. But the radiators and baseboards were still hot and sparks flying out the chimney of the furnace so there there was still fuel in there. Would check early and reload.
Up in Wisconsin my buddy Ray continued to complain about the cold.

3 degrees? Probably his high for the day. That's about what it was here that morning. On the brighter side; it was supposed to be minus.

4 above that morning in Mount Pleasant according to the numbers on my phone. Never got below zero here—unless my reading off the sensor on the back side of the greenhouse is from a warmer microclimate which it may be. Anyway glad I didn't live in Wisconsin!

With my heating system struggling like it is here it would probably never keep up in his neck of the woods. Had to get up and moving. That firebox would need refilling before went off to work and I was glad I had shoveled out the night before because it would really suck to have done it that morning!

And another day, another dollar.

Just when I thought maybe my worst problem was getting thru this cold snap comfort I found myself getting dinged with yet another unexpected expense. Getting home that evening I discovered the pump that circulates water from the furnace to the house was sounding like it was fixing to go. Heard air gurgling inside so I tried topping off the boiler. That was a real bitch too—trying to find a hose to reach from the cellar door to the boiler. My 100 foot one was frozen up so had to join 3 shorter ones including the coiled hose from the greenhouse to reach from the cellar to span the distance.

Got it sounding a little better afterward but still did not sound good. Was hoping it would get me thru the night. And the oil for my backup system was getting low since I burned thru most of that waiting for other repairs in the beginning of the heating season. So I had to decide whether to replace it or get oil and go with that until next pay and then get a new pump and someone to install it. Either way there went the next paycheck. Just when I thought this pay period would be the one where I might be able to get a few other things caught up while waiting for the wood delivery on the next one.
Even worse than the cold is this juggling of projects like this. I hate putting stuff on the back burner but I didn't want to pile up more debt every time something unexpected comes up. Sure wish they would start drilling for gas here—so I can get some extra cash to deal with problems and knock out back burner issues. Of which I have many.

From Wisconsin, Ray was complaining about price gouging.

Wanna talk about price gouging?—it was going something like 700 bucks plus for a local repairman to replace my pump. They wanted $500 plus labor cost. I was not going to cry foul because that seemed like a fair price considering the circumstances and the fact it is a busy day for heating system emergencies and they probably have to call around and send out for that pump. I called around and looked up the model number online and prices vary. Called Mahoning: the manufacturer of my furnace and they have it for $195 plus tax and shipping from their place in Mahaffey PA. Could have picked it up there but that's pretty much a day tip—way out in the north central part of the State—3 hrs at least. Left a message with the supply place in Somerset to call back if they have it. Closer but still want to know if they had it before going up there.

Was looking more and more like I would be ordering a couple from Mahoning and get someone local to put it in. Or do it myself with help from Bruce or my bro. For less than the cost of the repairman's price I can even have an extra to cover the one supplying the greenhouse. I managed to get an oil delivery set up for today. The oil man came by once and told me he didn't want to back into my place fully loaded so he is going to make a few deliveries and come back. I'm ok with that. Better than having a truck capsize and oil spill on my property!

Later he came back and delivered. $524 took a big bite out of my then current paycheck. Luckily I had plenty of groceries because it was going to be a lean next two weeks. Debated whether or not to push back my firewood order. But once the pump was fixed I would be glad to have it! I might be able to squeeze to spring.

How ironic. Things really have turned from when I tackled those trees earlier in the week to when I got home last night to find the pump going bad. From the threshold of being almost caught up—to just happy to keep the house warm and maybe keep my head above water. Also lucky this problem hit the day before payday—before the money got spent on other things.

So much for ordering those marbled catfish and other things hobby related. That day was a day for reflecting on many things pertaining to delaying gratification in general. I may go ahead in a few weeks when I'm caught up again and then tighten my belt hard. As I have done before; when I was aggressively paying down debts and juggling those with car payments plus a few home improvement projects. And I managed.

I finally located a pump at Twin Spring's Heating in Somerset County for about the same price as Mahoning. They called me back and decided to set out right after checking the furnace and the greenhouse. The latter had become my heat sink to prevent overheating of the boiler now that the hot water is no longer flowing between the unit and the heat exchanger in the house. It was boiling over again early in the pafternoon despite removing some of the smoldering logs and turning the boiler thermostat down to 160. Started up the pump to the greenhouse again because convection alone was not doing the job and it had shot back up toward the boiling point.

Inside the greenhouse it was a nice balmy 60 degrees and the water in the galvanized tub sitting on one of the cast iron radiators felt like a pond on a summer's eve. The two Florida Butterfly Orchids—Encyclia tampensis and a couple other small ones that I was concerned about drying out from neglect over the last couple hectic days probably appreciated a nice warm dunk! And speaking of "hectic" I was off to a running on fumes to make the gas station as the gauge dropped to empty while idling to warm up!

Made the decision to drive up there to what is fairly considered the Top of the World in this neck of the woods—in part because I would rather have a shot at getting the unit up and running sooner rather than later—as would be the case if I ordered a pump from Mahoning that would get here sometime next week—and also because the guy took the trouble to call me back after I had called and left a couple voice messages and other calls where I kept getting an automated message service. He called right as I was getting ready to call Spotto's Hardware in Connellsville after calling the Ace dealership—Brillhart in Scottdale and another place that specializes in roofing and heating. His call was good timing and proved to be sound business practice for him and maybe a good lesson for us all in everything we do.

And so I was off for a little adventure to the Top of The World in western Pennsylvania. Juggling decisions like juggling expenses—this became a PAYGO operation the moment I decided to resist the temptation to use the plastic and take the cost of filling my oil tank and the pump right out of today's paycheck instead. Even dug into my embryonic emergency stash for 30 bucks cash to put gas in the Honda for the trip and getting around this week. Oh well—that's what nest eggs are for! Another $2.60 from my wallet for the PA Turnpike from Donegal to Somerset exit. It was a splendid spin through the winter splendor of the Laurel Highlands aside from the SSSs (Shitheels Slinging Slop) on my windshield which was compounded by the lack of wiper fluid on the driver's side due to a clogged or frozen line. And that was just for starters.

Got to Somerset and had to backtrack to Rt 31 to get to the turnoff that would take me to the establishment I was seeking. Original plan was to come up 31 from Laurelville but decided at the last minute—like to PAYGO—that road conditions would be better—and quicker out of consideration for the proprietor who was taking the trouble to meet me there late in the day—as he normally closes at 5 but often locks up and goes to his place down the road when business is slow. I got there well before that—despite what turned out to be a drive to what turned out to be an unexpectedly remote location in the back country over somewhat treacherous roads. Then again what else might you expect this time up on the Allegheny Plateau—Roof of the World in this region which is also the Back of Beyond! It might be God's Country in the summertime, but in winter can be downright God forsaken—as it looked that day. But I took a little time to appreciate the natural beauty and opportunity for adventure—as well as maybe yet another installment to the climate/ winter related thread in TLE. The day had given me plenty to think about.

The place was really down in a hole—considering the road conditions and when I pulled into the lot—I wondered if I would get out. Thankfully I did. And again I am thankful the owner took the trouble to come out to meet me with the pump and his little kid in tow. He is a dealer in another brand of outdoor furnace than I or the Historian have but will be a great source for parts and maybe ideas for operating them more efficiently. I also noticed one of those STOP THE WAR ON COAL FIRE OBAMA signs in the window that were all over the place on my fish collecting junket in 2012!

Which was not too far from there! Thinking of Rosyside Dace—in another thread with Ray in regard to trading fish as opposed to buying them—but not much of a market for those because they don't ship well—hence the pun "Declinostomous" on their generic name: Clinostomous.

The Historian came by to help me replace the pump that Saturday. I even made an even trade with a co-worker: my day off Friday in exchange for all day Saturday which gives us both more of what we need—time plus less driving to and fro. The operation proved astonishingly simple. So simple a caveman like the ones in the insurance commercial could probably do it. Or two cavemen as it was a two person job—Bruce loosening and tightening connections while I held up the pump. We marveled afterward at the ease of the operation. Only took 15 minutes and a whole lot less money than had the repairman I called Thursday provided the pump and did the job.

Still there was yet another change pending in the weather. The forecast said that the worst may be yet to come as more cold and snow are about to descend upon the East.

Would it ever end?

Five Tenths of a Degree.

That was my reading from the backside of the greenhouse when I got home one evening a couple weeks ago. It got a few degrees lower than that overnight and struggled upward to 5 above with a projected high of 16. Much better than the previous day's high of 10.

My bro & I worked on the generator that afternoon. An old one I bought for Y2K—for naught and only used a couple of times before letting it sit for many years. With stories of people without power for days or weeks on end in the news—it is only a matter of time until it happens here—and with concerns for the hot water system and other plumbing on top of a greenhouse full of valuable plants—it would be a good idea to get it running again. And maybe save the expense of buying a new one. That project did not go so well. Got it running with some gas and starter fluid but it was idling rough and kept stalling. James who is amazingly talented at things mechanical—tore apart the carburetor and soaked it in cleaning solution and put it back together. Got one fitting start and then couldn't start it again. But at least it will run. He thinks it's just major league gunked up and needs cleaned out more. Maybe a job for the tractor shop at Brillhart's. Will have to take it there next pay.

Things are starting to look up again. I reconfirmed the firewood delivery for the following week. Get that and the generator running and I have stage one of my plan for power outage in hand. If the current generator proves inadequate or a pain in the ass to start I will look into a more easy to start key ignition one.

Survived yet another frigid night with the house struggling a little and dropping to 63 that night. Yet the boiler did not run constantly and there was a good bit of wood left late this morning when I checked and put a few more small logs in. I think my problem is rooted in the poorly insulated old house which is a factor independent of the boiler performance. Will have to work on that in the coming years because if winters are trending back to the colder ones of the 70s it will be rough trying to weather them like this.

Another concern was propane for the greenhouse dropping to 30 percent—on top of a growing shortage because of increased demand in the Southland where it is often the fuel of choice and they are being hit hard by the deeply penetrating polar air masses. Don't want to fill my tanks for a while until it gets warmer and the price goes down. Might have to get more fuel oil instead and run the house on that and the greenhouse on hot water from the boiler at the tail end going into spring. Could get some coal too. And run both buildings off the boiler when it is milder. Thank goodness for flexibility!

Now to make this long story short—(wishful thinking!) as it the day of my big wood delivery was approaching—yet another snow event on top of the fact that my driveway had become a sheet of ice from packed snow of past events—made it necessary to put the delivery on hold again! Bruce fixed my saw by blowing the dirt out of the sprocket with his air compressor and gave it a little grease so I could finish cutting up the remains of the first big cherry and the ash he downed and then he came over last Saturday and we dropped some more big ones including that treacherous looking cherry which was a sweet cherry with a rotten heart that gave us some trouble in the way of pinched blades while cutting it up—but a few wedges plus two sets of hands and two saws made it much easier to get unstuck. The rotted lower portion of the sweet cherry cut up nicely into huge thick slabs good for sliding on top of a stack of logs in the firebox—or just a few during the day to keep the fire alive in milder weather. And a good many big logs to roll down for the really frigid nights. Between that and my remaining stockpiles, The Historian was convinced I could even get into spring—but strongly recommended getting more from the mill just because there will be days when I am not feeling so good—like illness or exhaustion at the end of a long shift or inclement weather when it is much nicer to have wood close to the point of consumption!

And finally a breakthrough this past week!

Just as I was on the verge of reconciling myself to roughing it a few weeks longer I found a voicemail from Keslar Lumber—which is my main source of wood. They presented the option of delivering a smaller load with a 1 ton 4 wheel drive dump truck which had a better chance of getting in here. Which could very well be the salvation I was looking for—on top of financial breathing room to do other things including some less essential to survival but life enhancing in the way of boosting morale. The wood delivery which came this past Tuesday was a success despite fears there would still be problems getting it in here. Between that and the remaining stockpile and the downed trees I should be able to squeeze by onto Spring. I might even go with Bruce to look at some anthracite at a coal yard in the coming weeks. My friend and mentor has been going through some struggles of his own with his new furnace model from a different manufacturer than my own. He got a bigger capacity unit with a dual fuel—option that also burns propane in addition to wood / coal. He originally had the Mahoning 200 which I got mainly because of his recommendation. But moving on to the Redneck Chateau he decided to upgrade to his current system which supplies hot water for a hydronic heating system embedded in his basement and kitchen floors and baseboards for other rooms.

In many ways his system is a very smart improvement over both his original—which involved a heat exchanger to a forced air system—or mine which uses a different kind of heat exchanger that uses water from the outside unit to heat water that the pump on the original oil furnace pushes through the other side of the device that looks kind of like an oversized sardine tin! My system delivers hot water to and from the house and greenhouse (whenever I choose to run it) via red and blue Pex pipes that were laid down in a three foot deep trench after pushing them through a bulky sleeve of foam insulation with a dual channel and burying them along with power cables and thermostat wire. That was how Bruce did his original. His new system in keeping with the smarter design has the Pex lines individually insulated and going through a big PVC drain pipe—which was indeed genius -- because they can be pulled out for servicing if leaks or other problems develop instead of having to dig the whole course up again! The Pex lines—red and blue come out of the wall and connect to a brass manifold (that I helped my mentor assemble) that looks a lot like the diagram of a circulatory system—a heart—which in a way it truly is. In a cold northern climate the hearth / fireplace or whatever type of furnace or heat source you choose is the heart of the home. And if you use water pipes to distribute the heat—that is the vascular system! Red Pex for the incoming hot water being the equivalent of arteries and blue for returning cooler water—veins and the sub-floor tubing and baseboards—capillaries! Funny how many technological things mimic biological functions.

Not that I should envy my friend for having the luxury of newer system with the dual fuel option—or his spacious custom built and better insulated structure—as opposed to my old 100 year plus dwelling of pioneer vintage. I certainly don't envy the debt he and his wife went into on order to finance the construction. And lately he has been slightly envious of me—despite my recent problems—because my system—which was his old system—is performing much better than the new one which may have a few serious flaws in the way of the firebox design. He feels it is eating through wood too quickly and hopes to maybe correct it with a custom baffle. On top of that—the coal he got for this winter seems to be of poor quality. Too much ash and less BTUs. He thinks the the coal yard may be running out of the better part of the seam they are sourcing from. Hence the decision to shop for anthracite which despite being more expensive is said to generally of better quality. You get what you pay for—or at least hope.

Due to circumstances and financial setbacks late in the Fall and delivery related problems—I never replenished my coal pile with the usual 4 ton delivery dumped on my pad every few years. While I could have certainly used it a few times this winter to stretch out my wood supply. Yet on the flip side I must admit I have had fewer problems in the way of ash and clinkers clogging my grate or tar plugging the blower hole in the lower chamber when the ash builds up. And the ash must be shaken and emptied more frequently. With even good coal there is cost for those extra BTUs in the way of the extra attention required. Wood is relatively carefree in comparison.

Now that I have breathing room—there is time for attention to hobbies and of course writing—which is really what winter should be used for! I must admit that there were many things could have done to avoid some of these recent troubles. Having a spare pump or two on hand like I do a spare blower. And having a more than adequate fuel supply—including oil for backup is definitely a must. In addition to the difficulties and dangers of working out in cold weather, there are logistical problems getting stuff in where I live in the winter time. Even getting in and out is a big enough problem at times!

Like so many others I let the recent cycle of warmer winters fool me a little. For me—having grown up in the frigid decades of the 1970s & 80s; Global Warming was more something to actually be wished for instead of feared. And now it seems to be going back again to those days. Just like in a historic sense we are going back into a time of crisis. Maybe the big lesson in this adventure or misadventure is heightening of awareness in regard to the cyclical nature of many things good and bad and why it is always good to be prepared.

First thoughts now are on getting ready for the next winter well in advance. Aiming for delivery of my first big load of wood—that could not be delivered last week for early March when weather conditions should improve and the second half for delivery in April when I am on vacation—and get it stacked so it has all season to dry along with what I add to the stockpile from current clearing efforts and help from a professional logger who Bruce bought over to look over the place and some trees I want removed from around buildings and the central portion of my place which I'm looking to convert back to pasture after a lifetime of watching it grow onto forest. Part of a long range plan to be able to raise some beef and maybe other livestock in combination with forest crops—nuts and fruits on the surrounding slopes. Pursuit of happiness so to say.

I could go into the many lessons that one can learn from one's mistakes. And there are many. But the day is running away and while I am now officially caught up—there are still things in need of doing and a greenhouse to visit and enjoy. Also would like to maybe get this story into this week's edition—if there is still time!

So the short of it-

From my experiences doing things—such as building the greenhouse and digging out ponds and the pad for my furnace a well as 80 feet of ditch—I know well the concept of the creation of property by the mixing of human labor with the natural world. Which makes it easy to understand how infringements against private property are the equivalent of theft or bodily assault! Plus an appreciation for coal miners, oil drillers and loggers and a hands on understanding that necessity is the mother of invention! Mixing your labor with Nature and voluntary exchange and cooperation with others in the course of living can be very educational in addition to life enhancing.

We really need to be free to experiment, take risks and make mistakes that we can learn from. As old Quinn had said many a times on the airwaves down through the years; Liberty is the Solution to the Human condition!

And the late day sun is coming out. I bet it will be pleasant in the greenhouse.

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