Hedging Bets

Hedging Bets

Ol' Man Winter

In case you’ve not been up on things, most, if not all, almanacs, weather stations, NOAA, and Auntie Bess’s rheumatic big toe are all pointing to a rough winter for 2017 – 18. In preparation, I’ve been inching toward ready-mode since mid-September.

My first action was to prepare the ol’ wood / coal stove in the parlor, (I love that old-fashioned word… it sounds so homey and comforting). I cleaned it, replaced needed firebrick and piping, cleaned and brushed out the chimney. I then gave it a new coat of stove black and aside from test burning and removing the inevitable smell of the new coating while all windows are open for summer; it was ready for whatever Old Man Winter might throw at us.

Next, I readied the Big Buddy Propane Heaters® I use for the critter shed and the greenhouse. These heaters are literally life savers and workhorses here at the old homestead. While they are meant for temporary and intermittent use as in camping, ice fishing houses, and remote off-grid cabins, I rely on mine throughout the season with no ill effects. In the greenhouse I’ve tried to use propane heaters designed for long term use and found them unreliable and lasting no more than one season. I used my emergency Big Buddy Heater® when one of them failed on a cold winter’s night and have been doing so ever since. The only requisite is to maintain them during the winter; and service and thoroughly clean them annually. The main thing is to remove all expected cobwebs that may accumulate on and in them in the off-season. This is most important as these often block the jets causing a damming effect which can lead to explosions. This, however, is true of all propane heaters even LP gas barbeque grills. These heaters sell between $115 and $149 and are cheap at twice the price for what value they are here at Hunny-Bunny Farm. This year I had to repaint the oldest (of three others) with some stove paint after removing some rust but this was less than half-a-days’ time and well worth the effort. I also bought another that was on sale at Tractor Supply Corporation® to use inside for the times of chronic power outages up here on the sylvan ridge.

After this I turned my attention to kerosene heaters (3) that we have here for emergency use. Yes, I can hear it already, the quips and gripes of how stinky these heaters can be; but I’m here to tell ya’ that as long as you maintain and clean them, use fresh A-1 clear kerosene and let the oil burn out at least once every 3 or 4 lightings so as to avoid carbon build-up on the wick you’ll not have a “kerosene smell” throughout the house. This is exactly what I did; I drained the old kerosene, to be used as fire starter in the outside fire barrel.

Aside: never use kerosene from the previous season thinking you will save money. Kerosene goes “bad” quickly and will cause problems and smells if used from season to season. It will cause a shortened wick life and sputtering during burning which is incomplete combustion that in turn causes kerosene odors during use.

After draining I removed the old wicks and replaced them with the proper replacements, not just any wick fits any heater, check your owner’s manual for the proper fit. With the wick removed clean all the parts of the burn area removing any carbon deposits as needed. After which give is a light going-over with fine steel wool; this will ensure removal of any remaining deposits. Yep, it is that simple! If you take care and maintain your heaters they can last a lifetime or more. Our oldest of the three kerosene heaters goes back to the mid-1980’s when my folks used it in their apartment downstairs during emergencies. By the way, this particular heater is the sturdiest and strongest of all we have as it is made from a thicker gauge steel and in all these year, with proper maintenance, has never showed signs of rust. I look forward to many more years of service from this heater.

Lastly, I’m currently bringing up seasoned firewood from the back of the property to the front, this will assure shorter trips to the woodpile in the dead of winter. This seasoned wood has been aging to perfection over the last year or two and is ready for burning. In fact, if it not for the relatively mild weather of this Indian summer we would already be using it. I will also be ordering two tons of anthracite coal for the frigid parts of January and February when things are coldest.

So there you have it folks, we rely on not one form of energy for our heating needs: we have oil heat in the furnace, wood / coal in the stove; propane and kerosene for the any emergencies and also to heat the critters and greenhouse. It pays to be prepared you never know what Mother Nature has in store for us; just ask the folks in Houston and Puerto Rico.

Sorry to have not been updating more often but this summer I was down with tick-borne Erlichiosis not once, but twice. The ticks this year have been particularly bad due to the relatively warm winter we had last year which didn’t cull the population as usual. So be careful out there, and I don’t just mean in the deep woods but in your lawns, gardens and backyards because Erlichiosis, like the other tick-borne diseases is not just an inconvenience but can lay you out for weeks, even months at a time.

Many thanks to the readership who expressed concern on my long absence, but all is well with me at the moment and I’m doing just fine.

Meantime, this month of October represents the centenary mark of the first Apparitions of Fatima. It is crucial we keep up the rosaries as never before.

Richard of Danbury, D.S.G.

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