Sunday, January 12, 2014

Cabin Life: The Brown Eggs

Fresh EggsWell, the low temperature last night was still above zero for the first time in a week.  It’s not much, but it’s something to look forward to.  And then tomorrow they’re saying that the highs will be above freezing.  It has been a wild winter so far, weather-wise.

While the rest of the nation was experiencing record cold last week, we were watching the snow melt and the ruts in the driveway disappear.  Then we had bone chilling cold with nasty wind.  So much so that if I didn’t check the chicken coop every hour or so for eggs, the eggs I did find would be frozen and cracked.

One nice development out here at the cabin is that Brownie the chicken has started laying eggs too.  Nice light brown ones that make the egg carton look so pleasant.  With Whitey and Brownie laying now pretty much every day, I’m getting more eggs than I can eat.  At least when I find them unfrozen.

But back to the weather.  It was so windy the other night that I actually had to prop one of the chairs up against the door to keep it from blowing open.  The corner of the old woodshed roof lifted and had to be repaired (the people who built it only used about twenty screws for the eight sheets of metal, so no wonder it pulled away from the shed).  I’ll have to keep an eye on it the next time it gets windy like that.

The one upside of the wind is that I had several trees come down.  I could hear the popping and crunching of branches falling all night a few nights ago, and when I took Pico for a walk to check on the upper cabin, I found about a half dozen green ash trees down.

This was a huge bonus for several reasons.  First, they fell right across the road to upper camp, making them very easy to get to.  I can use the sled to bring firewood back or let it sit until spring and use the four-wheeler.  Either way, it’s a bunch of wood that I don’t have to work too hard for.  For once.

Second, and more importantly, with the ridiculous cold we’ve had, I am burning through wood faster than ever.  And it’s not the stove.  The new stove is far more efficient.  I get about eight hours of burn time with three big logs in there when I put it on the most efficient mode.  The old stove would have needed six or seven logs jammed into it to last that long.  But, it’s just been so cold that I can’t have the stove shut down all the way for the most efficient burn.  I need some air getting in there so that the temperature in the house stays comfortable.

With the wood shed about halfway empty, and three solid months of non-stop burning left in the winter, I’ll be dipping into next year’s firewood before the winter is out.  It’s a good thing I started working on that in the fall.  I already have about three cords tarped and split, so when the shed gets empty, I have a little safety net.  It’ll just mean more work and more money next winter, but I can’t stop burning wood and just turn on the furnace.

I have to admit, I kind of miss the days when the heat was just on.  It didn’t require any work or effort, just had to set the temperature and go about your day.  And sure, the wood stove keeps it steadily comfortable in here, but at what expense?  Year-round work trying to find and cut and haul and split and stack and carry and burn wood.  It’s a ton of work, and then add to it the unpredictable length of winter and it becomes a lot of stress too.  Luckily for me, one of my favorite ways to relieve stress is to cut trees up with my chainsaw.

 

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Justin A Levine

Having grown up in the southern Adirondacks, Justin has always been at home in the mountains of New York. After graduating from Paul Smiths College, he began his career in the environmental field working for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. After a brief five year detour to Florida, Justin returned to the Adirondacks to live off the grid in a small cabin with no running water or electricity.

Justin continues to work and play in the outdoors, and maintains a blog about living off grid, hiking, and being outside in the Adirondacks called Middle of the Trail.







5 Responses

  1. John Jongen says:

    Nice report Justin. Keep up the good work. You are an inspiration to all who dream of living off the grid with minimal negative impact to the environment. The chickens are fortunate to have a good steward to look out for their welfare.

  2. Frank says:

    Can you buy some wood? Some times I suppliment my supply with wood I buy from my neighbors. I don’t mind it . It helps my neighbors and it buying local.

  3. joanstreetman says:

    Looks like Frank has a good idea. Once you get the trees cut for next year they will be dry but winter has just began and you could use more wood than you planned. I enjoy all your stories and makes me lonely to do something like that.

  4. Chris says:

    Don’t throw away those frozen eggs unless they’re cracked open. Most of the time they are usable after they thaw. Maybe not for fancy sauces and such, but I doubt you cook those sorts of things anyway. We eat formerly frozen eggs all the time.

  5. Mary says:

    Living in a seasonal cabin for many a years I have eaten from cans that had been previously frozen, but not bulging,mussier but palitable.Fortunantly, I have propane backup now and during those really cold, windy spree weather; I only used propane-hopefully saving the pipes from freezing up. NOTE: The deer are loving this thaw and are right at your backdoor; back to the greens, and apples showing up again. I throw my composte out yearly, less on the landfill and food for the native…Enjoy

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