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It snew.

Not much. An inch or so. It’s more about the temps – in the mid-20s – that are making all the wet muck outside hard and slick. We aren’t used to this here.

I had to take a kettle to the chicken water to free it up. The Polands were goose-stepping around the garden like it warn’t nothing, but the Pekins refused to come out of the henhouse until they were nigh unto starving.

My first two Pekins did that a decade ago, after a fall of snow. Took one look at the white stuff, decided it was of the devil and didn’t come out for three days. I wonder if they snuck a drink of water during that time.

It’s been a revolving door for cats. Come inside get bored. Go outside paws cold. Repeat every ten minutes.

It’s so cold in the house we took the unprecedented step of lighting the fire in the afternoon. That’s going to cost a fortune. And this is for the foreseeable.

Kumbaya global warming.


Comment from AliceH
Time: February 8, 2021, 8:04 pm

I love that you just went ahead and used fahrenheit by default. I hate that I’m so used to reading unlabeled celsius that I was momentarily confused, because 20s was sounding unseasonably pleasant.

Also, exactly when did it switch from being called centigrade? I preferred that.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: February 8, 2021, 9:17 pm

What does “lighting the fire” mean? What are you burning and why is it so expensive? Aside from things generally being more expensive where you live.

What’s going on in Uncle Badger’s greenhouse? JavaMan and I are in discussion about the vegetables we want to plant; we’ll start small since we’re trying raised bed gardening. We have plently of room, but it’s been 25 years since we lived where we could garden. I want to grow lavender—I have about 1/3 acre that I can devote just to lavender. But if Biden is going to ruin the economy, we may need food to eat growing on every square foot.

Comment from Skandia Recluse
Time: February 8, 2021, 9:31 pm

Seasonal temperatures here for February, overnight low temp below zero Fahrenheit. Bright sunny days with afternoon high temps in single digits above zero. Normal, not necessarily every year, but not unusual. These temps could extend into March. (Afternoon high temps as low at 20 below zero are not unusual, though rare, and sometimes last for two weeks or more.)

I just called for a propane delivery. The vendor’s automated voice answering machine told me that it was the vendor’s ‘goal’ to make delivery within the next two weeks. If the tank should go dry, the voice said, turn off the valve at the tank. If ‘technicians’ need to enter the building they need to know if anyone has been exposed to the COVID-19 virus or has been in a foreign country within the last two months. I’m assuming that the ‘technicians’ will refuse to enter my home if someone (me) has been exposed or in a foreign country.

I don’t have #twoweeks of propane in the tank at these temperatures. I watched the ‘technicians’ bleed the gas line and restart the furnace pilot when I first moved in here twenty years ago, but I’m not sure I can see well enough, or have enough mobility to get under the furnace to reach the pilot light.

It is the uncertainty that is killing me. I’m not liking this brave new normal. Not even a little bit.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 8, 2021, 9:43 pm

I can only think in Fahrenheit, Alice H. It causes me problems, because most everyone talks in C. (Happy to say you can make the BBC weather tab tell you F).

We have a mixed stove, Deborah HH. We burn a mix of wood and solid fuel. Put simply, logs when it’s not so cold, solid fuel when it is. We have a ton of solid fuel delivered at the beginning of the season and several loads of logs.

That’s not counting oil for the central heating, which keeps most of the house ticking over.

If we kept the stove in all the time, we’d go bankrupt. And this is not, generally, a cold country.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: February 8, 2021, 10:05 pm

The greenhouse is a worry, Deborah HH. I have a 2kw electric fan heater in there (it’s an 8×10′ house a bit patchily insulated with bubble plastic). I couldn’t afford to keep it at a sensible temperature so I try to aim for a minimum of 40 degrees, but that’s proving difficult – it’s dipped to 37 so far this evening and it’s going to get colder.

As for the inhabitants, the only really valuable thing in there is a marvellous lime tree that Stoatie gave me as a Christmas present a few years ago. It is fiendishly productive and covered in fruit. Most of the rest I could stand losing – some pineapples and overwintering hydrangeas, fuchsias, pelargoniums (including a lot of cuttings – most of which I appear to have lost already) but would rather not.

I use raised beds too, by the way. It seems to work though I’m never really sure what the difference is between a raised bed and a well tended traditional veg bed. I suppose depth and consistency of soil, but well… mine are rather low raised beds, if you see what I mean.

To be honest, I’ve lost a lot of drive this year. I’ve let the garden go to hell through sheer inactivity on my part and I’m still waiting for the post-Christmas rush of enthusiasm to hit me. I’d blame lockdown but I suspect it’s just as much natural sloth and old age catching up with me.

Comment from BJM
Time: February 8, 2021, 10:10 pm

@Deborah 1/3 of an acre in lavender would be wonderful…you could make soap…that’s useful, right?

I have nine 4’x10′ raised beds & a 10×14′ greenhouse in a fenced 2400 sq ft garden which produces plenty of volume and variety. The nice thing about raised beds is that you can easily do no-till.

Have a looksee at Jess’s raised bed techniques…she produces a huge amount of food for her family and has a plethora of tips.

Comment from BJM
Time: February 8, 2021, 10:21 pm

@Uncle Al…I’ve lost my winter gardening mojo this year too…can’t say why. All I have in the garden is lemons, Italian parsley, fennel, and herbs…it’s pretty sad looking right now. The almond groves will soon bloom wafting the sweet aroma of marzipan in the morning breeze and that usually kicks me into gear.

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: February 8, 2021, 10:43 pm

Do not worry, Deborah HH, unless or until Biden puts Bloomberg in as Secretary of Interior. Bloomy says farmers are stupid, so…

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: February 8, 2021, 11:28 pm

“solid fuel”?

Like ammonium perchlorate composite propellant? (Badgers in orbit!)

Or just plain coal?

Which as far as I know was the only consumer product sold by the ton. It’s quite startling to see an old magazine ad for coal.

Comment from drew458
Time: February 8, 2021, 11:39 pm

Same question that Rich asked. If wood isn’t solid, then what is? And I’m thinking coal too, although IIRC England ran out of anthracite decades ago, so you’d have to burn the stinky smokey soft low heat bituminous stuff. Or maybe you have a pellet stove. You can get those sawdust granules by the ton.

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: February 9, 2021, 11:17 am

Pun time and a free rabbit hole trip.

I assume then your afternoon is flame resistant if you’ve lit a fire in it (here’s something, “in” as a prefix often means “not”, as in “informal, indirect, insincere”. Yet Inflammable…go figure – crazy Romans, this is what happens when you speak English, the bastard child language of every language on the planet.)

It’s gone to 34 F here and because of the
“OMG-doom-supercold-polar-bomb-kill-everyone-inversion-this-is-because-Trump-global-warming-and-has-NEVER-happened-here-before!” cold front we’re expecting temperatures below European ZERO before end of the week.

IOW about expected for North Texas in February if you’re over the age of 5 but aren’t a hysterical sobbing sissypants fearmonger.

I’ve been planting 9mm ammunition and macaroni in raised beds, but so far neither is taking root. I need to check Mike Bloomberg’s Farming Almanac. Is it too early in the season for those things or do they just not grow around these parts?

We do have especially good luck with sweet mint, rosemary and oregano though.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: February 9, 2021, 4:54 pm

Thanks to you all, for the wonderful information. I am encouraged and I also want to adopt Jess 🙂 BJM—if you can smell almond trees, I wonder if you live in California. I can smell a feed lot if the wind is WNW 🙂 Skandia Recluse—I share your concern over the propane. Using propane was the one thing I disliked about living on our little farm. Uncle Badger—you sound like you have the blues, so I hope you get a good warm up soon from the Gulf Stream and an early spring. Durnedyankee and I are getting a Polar Vortex 🙂 I heard sleet during the night and we have a light frosting of ice today. Stoaty—I remember you writing previously about the solid fuel y’all use, but I don’t remember the description now. Maybe compacted saw dust?

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: February 9, 2021, 5:14 pm

I have come to terms with degrees C v F. To do it I had to come to grips with the fact that I don’t really care about the exact temperature when it comes to the weather. I just need to know: Too hot, hot, nice, cool, sweater, coat, stay home. The rest is just obsessive/compulsive attention to detail.

So screw ‘C’ x 9 / 5 + 32 = ‘F’

Just start at 32 degrees ‘F’ and remember 5 ‘C’ = 10 ‘F’ . Thus:

32 = 0
40 = 5 (Actually 41)
50 = 10 (Actually 55.5)
60 = 15 (Actually 59)
70 = 20 (Actually 71)
80 = 30 (Actually 86)
98.6 = 37 (Sick/Not Sick)

It kind of breaks down at 40 ( Actually 104) but Jesus , at that point you don’t need to know the number of degrees to know it’s too damn hot….


Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: February 9, 2021, 5:28 pm

Oh and regarding heating the house. I grew up in Western Pennsylvania and so of course my grandparents always heated their big old house with <a href=“ https://us-browse.startpage.com/av/anon-image?piurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.porcelainsigns.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2017%2F08%2FBlue-Coal-Better-Heat-Less-Attention.jpg&sp=1612891810T5816b5fea4fa89d34db6ae46c0d16a24103461a0a5af18ecbf3efc57cc766d46”

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: February 9, 2021, 5:40 pm

Rats. No, they didn’t heat their house with rats: they used Blue Coal but my link to the cool old advertisement failed for some reason.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 9, 2021, 7:08 pm

Solid fuel is like…charcoal briquettes. They come in all different shapes and compositions.

Comment from Carl
Time: February 9, 2021, 9:17 pm

Alice H … I’ve always called it Degrees Centigrade or Degrees C. I refuse to use Celsius.
Apparently, the change of name started in the late 1940s. The French use Centigrade as the name of an angular unit. They objected to its use for temperature, so that’s why we ended up with Celsius.

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: February 9, 2021, 9:30 pm

All shapes and sizes?
How many sexes are there?

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: February 9, 2021, 10:29 pm

Grrrr! I answered the query about solid fuel this morning and Weasel’s blog has eaten it (not for the first time, I might add).

Solid fuel in this case refers to smokeless fuel – a fabricated briquette of anthracite (still produced in Wales, BTW) petcoke and various secret binders (molasses is a favourite I’m told).

You can’t use ordinary bituminous coal in one of these stoves as the soot bungs them up in no time. Not that we have a choice any longer, as the imbeciles in gummint have banned the domestic use of real coal from this year onward. They seem to think the 2 or 3% support the Greens get in elections means they have to give in to them every time. I curse them, daily.

Temperatures are down in the mid-low twenties F today (I refuse to think in or use C) and the stove has needed bucket after bucket of fuel to keep it running – I’d estimate about £20’s worth and it has been wickedly cold in here all day, until this evening. Old house, no insulation, grumpy mustelids.

Comment from Cantharkmycry
Time: February 9, 2021, 11:53 pm

Some Vegetable: a slightly better approximation technique that still isn’t unduly challenging: multiply Celsius times 2, reduce by 10%, and add 32. So, 6 degrees Celsius=6×2 (12) minus 1.2 (11) plus 32. . .43 degrees Fahrenheit

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 9, 2021, 11:59 pm

I was told there wouldn’t be math 🙁

Comment from Cantharkmycry
Time: February 10, 2021, 12:07 am

🙂 Apologies!

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: February 10, 2021, 12:30 am

Pah! Double it and add 30.

Good enough for Badgers.

Comment from drew458
Time: February 10, 2021, 7:25 pm

If your thermometer reads -40 it doesn’t matter if that’s F or C. Same temp, and that’s way too cold.

Comment from JC cOLLINS
Time: February 21, 2021, 5:42 am

Okay, I understand snow/snew. It actually snew here in Houston for a couple days in a row! But those little ice nuggets, is it sleet/slut? I want it to be!

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