It was another cold day this morning, and since we moved all the split firewood from our old house yesterday, we decided to make a fire in our wood burning cookstove. We got the replacement firebox parts earlier in the week, and they slid right into place. We’ve got about a cord stacked in the woodshed, and another cord of spruce that’s been cut, but not split yet. Hopefully the split wood will last long enough to allow the spruce to dry once I’ve chopped it. With everything else going on, I haven’t had any opportunity to go logging, or even deal with the wood I got earlier in the spring.
The Stanley fired right up, and within about fifteen minutes the top cook surfaces ranged from 700°F above the firebox, to 200°F on the cooking plates on the right side of the stove. The oven peaked at 180°F after 45 minutes, but by then the house was already warm and I’d burned all the wood I brought into the house, so I didn’t let it go any longer. I’m not exactly sure how to use the flue controls on the stove to regulate the cooktop and oven temperatures, but it was easy to get the fire started, and then cinched down to burn slowly.
Since today was pancakes and bacon day, and the cookstove was already warm, I tried cooking the bacon on the wood stove. Like the electric stove six months ago, and our new gas stove last week, the wood burning stove heated the pan evenly and the bacon came out perfectly. The cooktop could have been hotter and the bacon would have browned a bit more than it did, but for my first attempt at renewable energy cooking, I’ll mark this one down as a complete success.
Now back to moving. Sigh.
This weekend we spend a lot of time getting our vegetable garden ready for planting. The first plant date here in Fairbanks is June first, so we’ve got until Friday to get everything set up and ready to go. We spent most of the day on Saturday removing the top layer of dirt from the garden, and replacing it with a pickup truckload of soil we got from Great Northwest on College Road. They support the Dog Mushers, so we support them. We replaced five wheelbarrow loads on the upper bed, eight loads on the lower bed.
Sunday we rented a rototiller and rototilled both beds. We did three passes on each bed, and only had the tiller out for a couple hours. In the past I’ve always turned over the soil by hand, and I can say without reservation that using a rototiller is a much easier way to go. I think it churns the soil up better too, so hopefully we’ll have fewer problems with clay this year.
We got plants from the Farmer’s Market, Alaska Feed, and some from Calypso Farms. We’re growing Russet potatoes, basil, and several varieties of cabbage, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, and salad greens. I had hoped to grow beets, but we didn’t see any starts for that, which may mean we need to start them from seed directly in the garden. Andrea also got some flowers that should help keep pests away from the crops, as well as improve the soil.
We've finally gotten enough snow for the sprint racing season to start. There was a race last weekend, despite temperatures hovering right at the -25°F cutoff. I wore both of my union suits under my wool pants and multiple layers of shirts, sweaters and coats, and still managed to get cold. This Sunday it was a lot more pleasant, and more people showed up to race.
The photo shows our dogs lined out, Andrea on her sled, waiting to go up to the line to race. Piper and Buddy are in lead, with Kiva and Koidern (who is mostly hidden in the photo) behind them. Kiva is already rocking in place, trying to get the sled to move.
Andrea and our dogs ran the four and a half mile course in 15 minutes, 20.7 seconds, which was good enough for fourth place in a field of twelve. Average speed, 17.8 miles per hour; maximum speed, more than 22 miles per hour.
Yesterday when I was walking Piper and Nika on campus the tips of my ears got cold. I have a wool cap I wear when it's really cold, but I had my Pendleton hat on instead. It seems like whenever I'm wearing it, someone comments on it, and it does keep my head warm. But what to do about my ears?
A couple winters ago we bought some wool yarn, circular needles, and a few knitting books with the intention of knitting stuff; a hat to start because it seemed easier than socks and quicker than something like a sweater. Browsing around the knitting store, looking at all the cool yarn, and thinking about actually making something to wear from scratch got me all excited about the project.
Most of the time this sort of enthusiasm carries me through the first three-quarters of a project, and the desire to finally get the damned thing done gets me through the rest. This time, though, I started out overly ambitious, and my interest petered out after nine or ten rows.
Today I pulled it off the shelf in the living room and got back to work. I figure about ten more rows and I'll have a very simple knit ring I can pull over my ears, but below my stylin' hat, to keep my ears warm. And better than that, maybe the satisfaction of finishing my first knitting project will tempt me into starting and finishing a real project, like the hat I'd been thinking of a couple years ago.
There's a fire burning in the wood stove, Spoon's Kill the Moonlight on the stereo, and I'm ready to roll.
Update, Wed, 08 Nov 2006: I finished it this evening, and you can see what it looks like under my hat on the image to the left. It fits just about perfectly, but it's not really all that stretchy. I think that's because the last half of it was done entirely with knit stitches. I started with some sort of knit / purl ribbing, but one of the reasons I put the project down for two years was that it was too much for me to handle at the same time I was learning to knit.