I’ve Got My Hens To Keep Me Warm.

Ah, if only it were that simple.

Actually, this weekend has been all about staying warm. Winter is coming, and PG&E assures us that gas rates will rise by 70%. Electricity will go up too, in part because they use gas to fuel the power plants, and in part because–well, why should the natural gas companies have all the fun?

So we are trying to figure out how to stay warm without turning the furnace on. I’m getting one of these bad boys from the Thelin Stove Company–it’s a pellet stove, so it puts out very little pollution and it burns wood pellets, a recycled and renewable resource. Plus, they look cool. Mine will be fire-engine red.

Having a cheery little fire going in the winter makes me wish I had a little box of baby chicks to raise behind it. I’m pretty sure E.B. White wrote about doing just that thing at his farm in Maine. If you haven’t read One Man’s Meat, you haven’t read one of the best collections of essays on farm life (and other things) ever written. He wrote them in the years leading up to and during World War II, and there is a sweet and sad tenderness to them. We know what is coming, and he does not. Still, the war bears down, sharp and cold, and he finds some respite in his quiet rural life, which does, as I started to say, involve the raising of baby chicks behind the wood stove.

Spent the weekend on my belly under the house wrapping the heating ducts in insulation. Would have cost an even grand for a pro to do it. I am sore in places where I didn’t even know I had places. But the work is done, and maybe it’ll save us a little money when we do fire up the furnace.

And, last but not least, I started caulking cracks in the henhouse walls. Not so much to keep the girls warm–their body temperature is 105 and I think they can keep each other warm, especially considering our low temps are rarely below freezing–but to keep the rain out. Wet bedding means mold, and mold means sick chickens. Mustn’t have that.