A meandering blog with no clear topic. You will find me talking about knitting, building, kids, social and economic issues, Alaska, and lots of other stuff.

Friday, August 14, 2009

getting ready for winter...

Winter is a big deal in Alaska. It starts the beginning of October, lasts until the beginning of April. It is cold, and dark. Last winter it was 30 below zero for two weeks. Fall comes early; we've already seen some yellow leaves. The fireweed is already blooming only at the top, which in local lore, means that snow will be here in 6 weeks. As a matter of fact, I had a fire going this evening, but only a small, quick one, just to take the chill off.

We heat only with wood. We have a wood stove in the middle of our cabin, and in the coldest part of the winter, it burns continuously. A few weeks ago, we finished filling up our wood shed. The roof slopes, and at the front of the shed, the roof is about as high as I can reach. Last year, we burned about 3/4 of the shed full of wood. All of the wood in our shed, James cut into stove length with the chain saw, and anything too big around he split by hand with an ax. I have not yet mastered the art of splitting wood, but I am learning. James did the cutting and splitting, and the rest of us, including Steven, picked it up from where ever on the property it was cut, put it in a wheelbarrow, hauled it to the shed, and stacked it. Realistically, besides James, only Ryan and I are strong enough to move a wheelbarrow of wood, but the kids are great for picking it up and putting it in the wheelbarrow. This is definitely a job for the entire family.

The other major necessary thing for winter preparation is cleaning the chimney. We have a chimney brush, which is much like the brushes used for cleaning rifles, only bigger. James and Ryan climbed up on the roof and cleaned the chimney, resulting in lots of screeching noises coming from the chimney, and a pile of black soot on the floor of the wood stove. The soot was then shoveled into our ash bucket and taken out to the compost pile. We also caulked the seams in the chimney pipe, and replaced the gasket around the door of the stove. Everything is in tip top shape.

So, the most basic and necessary part of winter prep is done, which gave me a huge feeling of relief. My family will stay warm.

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