Thursday, March 06, 2008

twelve degreeS and falling

The geese have escaped.

The chickens won’t stay in their pasture.

I can’t find where all the hens are laying their eggs.

The dogs have been barking all night long (or mostly so).

Is it deer they're barking at? a bear? some evil intruder? or just the moon shadows running across the barren fields?

And besides that it has been unseasonably cold.

Real cold. Here, winter should be winding down about now but this last Wednesday night the temperature out here on the farm dropped to 12 degrees.

And to cap that off. To add to a temperature that freeze water is seconds rather than minutes, the pump circulates the hot water from the greenhouse’s wood boiler to the new seedlings gave up the ghost.

It died. Hissed a couple times before giving us some loud clunks.


That means little, if any, heat in the greenhouse.

And without heat, at 12 degrees, that means water turns into a rock real quick.

And plants, even little seeds that have just barely spouted out a shoot, don't act very cuddly. In fact their cell walls sort of rupture and they die.


Three days of work in the greenhouse. Three days of seeds planted. Several thousand each of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower as well as several thousand other seeds.

So Wednesday night I started thinking of quick solutions.

By then all the plumbing supply places were closed.

And while the heating system in my house uses a couple of the same type pumps I don't think Wenonah would have been very happy if I cannibalized our homes heating system in order to keep the greenhouse warm.

And likewise, I don’t think Wenonah would have been all that happy if I hauled the 50 or so flats and trays down the hill to the house and set them on the floor of her kitchen, dinning room and maybe even the bedroom.

I don't think she would have believed me when I said I would be real careful about the several tons of potting soil in those flats and that I wasn’t going to spill it all over the house.

Besides that, When the pump stopped, the water from the spring stopped flowing. Which means that all thousand feet of that pvc pipe from the spring to the greenhouse was solid with ice.

This follows the principle that moving water doesn’t freeze. Or is that the axillary. Still, water freezes real fast once the temperature drops below freezing (but if you have it moving, even down as cold at 5 degrees the water doesn’t freeze.

And ice doesn't turn back to water and start flowing again until the temperature get up above 32 again.

So that meant no water in the greenhouse.

Oh well. It’s only three days of work and maybe, just maybe, some of the seeds hadn’t sprouted which means maybe the seeds that were slow in sprouting hadn’t frozen

It didn’t matter that on Thursday I was able to buy the best circulating pump out there. A German made pump. And on Thursday night, with the new pump circulating the hot water, everything was toasty.

Which of course reminds me of my grandmother.

She’s the one I learned to garden from and while she’s been gone for a few years now, she did live until 102 and I remember visiting her on nights like we just had and her turning to me and asking:

“Who feeds them?” she would say, “Who takes care of animals in the forest when its cold like this?”

And since she had asked me the same question maybe twenty five times before I knew she wouldn’t care much for my answer.

“Maw-maw, no one feeds them. They’re wild animals. That’s the deal they made when they decided to be free.”

“Free?” she would yell. “You can’t be very free if you’re freezing to death. I want you to make sure they all get enough to eat. And you have to make sure they’re warm.”

Which is probably enough philosophy for today


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