The idea of an ark is looking pretty good.

We are supposed to be holding a fire party tonight but that’s clearly not going to happen. Our sustainability group was planning to do a night on making fire without matches. We have people coming to demonstrate fire bows and flint and steel as well as some alternative and home made-stoves. It looks like we need Plan B. The meeting was supposed to be at our fire pit but I guess we’ll meet at the church after all.

Bruce has been working like crazy to get our wood heat set up. I had purchased a terrific Vermont Castings stove for $200.00 a few months ago. We had the chimney rebuilt so we can now use it. The plan is to keep the big stove in the basement where it will heat Bruce’s shop and dry the basement out some. The second chimney is slated to be rebuilt in the spring and will vent the second wood stove. The basement stove will also keep the pipes from freezing. If the floors are warm, the house will be livable if not toasty. The stove also has the benefit of having a large cooking area. Each time I feel a bit overwhelmed by the task of taking my house as far from oil dependence as possible, I remember that it was lived in for decades with no grid at all.

Canning season is in full swing and I try to get at least one load in each day. I have a big meat order in and canning the stew beef is high on my to-do list. I have always done the meat as a hot pack but I’m going to do a raw pack for the stew beef. Apparently, one just jars the beef with no water and it makes its own broth. Does anyone have any experience with that?

The rain has kept me getting in the garden for a few days but I used the time to plot out next year. If I have my way (and I may not) I would plant only potatoes, tomatoes, onions, Haricot Verdes string beans, garlic, dry beans, carrots, beets, cabbage, cucumbers and winter and summer squash and maybe enough broccoli and cauliflower for fresh eating. I will always do the greens. I think that peas and corn are not worth the space or the trouble nor are turnips or brussel sprouts. I want more golden raspberries and I would like to expand the grapes. I keep looking at what grows well with the best output for the energy expended. I just ordered Top Keeper and Keepsake onion sets from Territorial Seeds. These are multiplier onions and behave lke garlic. You plant in the fall and harvest early. They both have excellent keeping qualities and produce bulbets that are replanted in the fall. Sounds like my kind of onion.