Notes from Windward: #68


Mid-February Happenings

waiting out the snow

     The worst of the cold spell is past, and we dodged the bullet in the sense that the weather has been gradually warming so the snow has been doing a slow-melt that allows much of the water to soak into the ground refreshing the water table. The alternative is the sort of pattern we saw in '96 when a heavy snow was followed by a warm rain. The snow soaked up the snow until it couldn't hold anymore and then went rushing off down to the river. That was the year the Klickitat flooded bad enough to wash away five miles of road between Windward and the Columbia--it was months before the roads were rebuilt, and in the meantime every trip to town was an adventure!

     In the meantime, we've been tending to a lot of little projects. For example, last year we purchased some "hardy figs" that promptly got nailed by a late spring frost. We'd bought them from Gurney's who offers a no-risk guarantee on all their products. I contacted them, they took down our information and sent us a set of replacements this spring, so I'm delighted to note for the record that they really do stand behind the products they sell.

     However, having been caught by one spring frost we decided to not risk another, and planted the figs in containers so that they could remain in Vermadise until the all risk of frost is past.

Adriann beds down the new fig trees

     We're overwintering some goats for KatyRose, a member of our Away Team, primarily because the place she was keeping them in the city wasn't taking adequate care of them. For example, they failed to keep the bucks away from the does at the start of the breeding season, with the result that one of the does gave birth smack in the worst of the cold snap--by the time we found her that evening, the kid was gone, and the doe was sinking fast. She didn't make it through the night which is why, no matter how much the rams and bucks dislike having to wait, we don't allow breeding to happen before Halloween.

Margaret enjoy playing with the new kids

     I'm pleased to report that the second birth went better, and all are doing fine. It was the does' first kidding, so it took her a bit to get the concept of what those kids were doing poking around her udder, but it all worked out in due order. Instinct is powerful, but it's not as automatic as most people would think. It has to be triggered by the appropriate stimulus. Once awakened, it's good to go the next time, but the first pass is iffy.


     Given how difficult it was to get around in the deep snow, we shifted our attention to doing more with the workshop building. We'd picked up a couple of doors last fall, and this was as good a time as any to install them. Once that was done, Adriann and Margaret turned their attention to screwing down more of the sheet rock.


     One of the key intern projects last summer involved building a foundation for the Propagation Greenhouse ("PGH"), and then getting it assembled and modified for winter. One of the ongoing themes of our gardening involves working out ways to extend our growing season--part of that involves getting things started early, and part involves protecting our cold weather crops such as kale.


     Because PGH is now so efficient at gathering solar heat, we have had to hook up a thermostaticly controlled fan to exhaust air when the inside is in danger of overheating. I'm delighted to report that even with snow covering the ground, PGH's interior temps are exceeding 90°F and triggering the exhaust fan. Impressive!

spring kale coming up in PGH

     Work on getting the PowerLab set up continues as Margaret sinks a grounding rod that we'll use to insure that the container itself is fully grounded. When working with electricity, our goal is to keep things as dull and boring as possible via the liberal use of ground rods and Ground Fault Interupter circuits.


Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 68