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October 12, 2014: Getting Ready for Winter

Winter. It always takes me unaware. And I’m never overly enthused about its appearance. The cold, the darkness, the wind, the snow, I can easily do without it. It requires considerable inner fortitude to deal with six months of more of this. And inner fortitude is what I lack.

Internally, or by all inner appearances, I’m not ready and I will never be ready. But externally, or by all outward appearances, I am ready. This year the place appears ready, and in fact, it is seeming to shout “Bring it on!” (The place loves clichés.)

Pete and I did a good job of preparing for winter, 2014-2015, perhaps because we’re now old pros at this. Or perhaps because this year, winter has been coming in fits and starts, meaning we’ve had warm spells punctuated by cold spells. It was cold and it snowed last Sunday. This Sunday was uncharacteristically warm and sunny. Go figure.

Today’s 45 F degree temperature and somewhat blue sky lent itself to doing outside work. For example, Keith, our neighbor, came over at midday. He returned a truckload of empty manure buckets, took a truckload of full manure buckets, and returned with a truckload of empty manure buckets. I also gave him some of the compost in the second station—the stuff that contains the red wiggler worms. I don’t think that Keith realized quite how lucky he was—most of the manure that he’d yet to come and pick up had previously frozen in the five gallon buckets, making it impossible to remove their contents. However, it warmed up two days ago, so the manure had thawed by the time that he came to get it. It could just as easily have remained cold, meaning the manure remained stuck to the bucket.

I took what remained after Keith left (about 20 buckets worth) and began filling the one empty station. I alternated adding layers of manure and greens. I’d stockpiled the greens, previously gathering up clippings, moldy hay, and garden what not. And lastly, I took some of the compost that remained in the second station, and sprinkled it on top of the manure/greens that were in station one.

Tomorrow, Mimi (our house-sitter) and Andre (our friend) are coming over early in the morning. Pete will take our tractor and place the compost on Andre’s trailer. Andre will then go over to Mimi’s place and drop it off at the edge of her garden site.

When Pete, Mimi, and Andre are done, we’ll be left with two empty stations, and one part way full station. I’ll put the first few loads of winter manure in the one empty station, and the one part way full station. We’ll store the tractor in the other empty station. When the stations are full (and this most likely will be in January), I’ll begin twice daily to haul the manure up behind the hoop house. I’ll leave enough space in the station so that come spring, I’ll be able to add to them. This way I won’t have to haul buckets up behind the hoop house in the slush.

Today I also raked up the loose hay that had piled up around the hitching post and trailer. Raudi, in particular, likes to toss her hay onto the ground with her nose and then burrow around for the good stuff. I then put this stuff in the greens pile next to the compost.

Always, my outside efforts seem to come back to manure management. I would not have it any other way, for I am justifiable proud of my late season efforts.

Next: 273. 10/13/14: A Different Sort of Day