When it looks like this outside, I just want to get planting. I long for the time when I can work the dirt and get my hands in the soil and plant some seeds. That longing is very intense when the first big snowstorm hits. It’s sort of like labor pains, you forget how much they hurt to some extent when you are gifted with another pregnancy. I tend to romanticize the garden and forget how much back breaking work it really is! But, that’s okay because I’ve not had a garden in two years now and I’m so ready to get some beds started here at our new house. We don’t have a very large area in which to plant, and some of the best and flattest space is currently used by our boys for their football field and basketball shooting area. Yep, it’s gonna be interesting to see just who wins that battle of the real estate. Seeing as how it’s their dad and I that pay the mortgage, if push comes down to shove, I know exactly who will be growing some beautiful cucumbers on the 50 yard line. They will get over it, I’m sure.
So, since I can’t get my hands dirty right now, I do the next best thing. I wait until that first real deep freeze of the winter, which we have been experiencing for the last two weeks here in southern NH. I go into the seeds files and pull out the seed catalogs, or wish books, as I like to think of them. I never have as much room or time to plant all that I would like to plant, and so some of it is just dreaming. But that’s okay, I got a wonderful new catalog for Christmas that I have been wanting for the last bunch of years, but didn’t want to pay the money to obtain it. Most seed catalogs are free, and they do make a scaled down version of this one that is free, but this one is just amazing and so worth the money. My husband bought it for me for a gift and though I would normally be unamuse over him spending $9.95 on a catalog, this time, I was thrilled. This little bugger is like seed porn for the heirloom seed gardener.
Isn’t even the cover beautiful? The interior photography is equally appealing. Now, they have every type of heirloom seed that you could ever want to get your hands on and try growing for yourself. I have my eye on a couple of new varieties of veg that I haven’t grown before. I have my tried and true seeds, and those I will continue with because you need some amount of “sure thing” food for canning and such, but growing something that I don’t usually put in the garden is a super fun and exciting way to grow our food varieties. I have three fairly adventurous eaters in the house, and one who thinks anything that isn’t a tan carb is not worth his time, but even he will usually try what I plant in the experimental garden. Fun!!
So, the last storm brought us about a foot of snow, on top of the 6 frozen inches we received previously. Our biggest problem right now with the house is that it is encrusted in ice dams. The majority of the house has either no roof insulation, or inadequate insulation. So when we had the heat on at 57 degrees in the midst of -10 degrees, it melts the snow that fell, quickly, then refreezes on its way down to the edge of the roof where it froze up solid. Some of the dams are a good 6 inches thick, and we are N-E-R-V-O-U-S about the leaking that will likely occur. We already have one area leaking through a window in one of the boys bedrooms. On the positive note, our bedroom didn’t make it up out of the low to mid 40s during that cold snap, and that combined with the wonderful job my hubby did on the insulation and channels, kept the snow from even melting over our bedroom. If only we could insulate the rest without having to remove all the ceilings, we would do it. Now, we need to figure out how to avoid having this happen again with the next storm, that’s provided we can get it melted off safely without too much damage now. We are thinking that it will be some of the heat tapes that you can apply to the edge of the roof and plug in to keep the heat in them just enough so the edges remain thawed out so they don’t freeze up so badly. The best thing would be to put a metal roof on it, but since the roof was brand new when we bought the house, that would be a bit of a hard sale for the budget right now.
This cold snap brought the unheated part of the house to it’s knees. We figured out why, after all these years, no one ever opened up the downstairs to have the “great room” and the kitchen to be one open space. Because half of it has heat, and the other half does not. The half that does, doesn’t like to share. We spend most of our time in the great room when we aren’t in the kitchen while we are indoors. Space heaters don’t keep up with it, the fireplace is great but when it burns down in the middle of the night, what little bit of heat we had was sucked up through that big open hole. It was brutal, and the bedroom was about 10 degrees colder then that room. To say that we are really all set and done with this winter is not an understatement. Poor hubby has been back under the house in the freezing cold to try to get the water lines and drainage pipe for the washer open and usable. We have a gray water system and its having issues with keeping up with the water we have been putting in it. I made the mistake of doing 5 loads of laundry in one day once we finally got the washer back, and it started to back up into one of the sinks. Always an adventure on the homestead! We know we will need to do something with the septic system, but are hoping to at least get through the winter limping along on the one we have. Never a dull moment or a moment of easiness here right now.
Well, moments of garden planning give me a break from worrying about all the other issues I worry about. I make sure, when I have a moment without interruption, to have a hot cup of tea and a nice little candle going while I peruse the catalogs and dream of warmer times. I highly recommend you try it to, it’s good for the soul. Next storm, planning will be under way for the types of chickens I will be adding to the homestead. I think we will be doing broilers along with some new egg layers. I need to find the bottom of the freezer to see how many I have left from our last batch, that way I can determine how many I want to order again. We like to do heritage breed birds, so it’s fun to check out the unusual offerings from the hatcheries. Until then, enjoy winter survival tactics of your own! Be well, be kind to each other and blessings to you all.