Although Winter Solstice has passed so we’re getting more and more light each day, January is the month that usually brings the coldest temperatures, so I’m not going to get too cocky yet about having an easy winter. The weather so far this year has been incredibly erratic, but for weeks now the temperatures have been averaging far above normal and the snowfall has backed off to more normal levels, so it’s been very easy to deal with.
This is the 5-day weather forecast as of a few minutes ago. Anything above -25°C is good news – seeing single digits day after day is wonderful! Sunrise today is at 10:11am, sunset at 3:52pm.
Every job is so much easier, every activity is so much more fun when it’s warm. Going for long walks with my camera (this is downtown Whitehorse from the trail around the airport at 09:20)…
…plowing the driveway…
…using the snowblower can get silly :)…
…putting up the Christmas decorations…
…and getting in firewood. I got behind in firewood because good wood is getting tough to find. When you add up the costs in gas, time and vehicle maintenance, and then factor in the poor quality (very small size) of the trees I can cut myself, buying wood became the option of choice this year. I still have a couple of cords of self-cut that I need to buck up (on the left), but we had another 3 cords of ready-to-burn wood delivered a few days ago.
This wood came from the massive spruce beetle kill area around Haines Junction, on the Alaska Highway about 140 miles west of here. There are several companies working in the Haines Junction area now, with wood available in any size and quantity you want it – we ordered 9 cords cut to length, at $240 per cord (all companies are 20-25% higher this year!). That will supply well over 90% of our heat for 2 years.
The wood was delivered late at night and by morning had a couple of inches of snow on it. I was going to tarp it as soon as it was delivered but got lazy – oh well, a couple of inches doesn’t create much of a problem.
It’s rare to get local wood that’s large enough to need splitting to a size more appropriate for the woodstove, but almost 50% of the Haines Junction wood needs to be split, sometimes into as many as 5 pieces!
The next step is to fill the wood room in the basement – it takes almost 3 cords.
While I was loading the basement, Monty was keeping an eye on me from the doghouse. Kayla was facing inside the doghouse – that’s her bum on the left 🙂
Having the wood room filled is a really nice feeling. If we had to, we could function without electricity for weeks in a warm house lit by Coleman lanterns, with meals cooked on the wood stove, the garage serving as a refrigerator and the back deck as the freezer. Not convenient, but certainly possible.
The large wood stove that heats the entire house is just a few feet from the door of the wood room, so loading it is very easy. In the middle of a normal winter (whatever “normal” means now), the stove burns 24/7, but this year we often let it cool off. Right now, 14 hours after the stove’s last “feeding”, the house is still warm, so I may not re-light it until 11:00 or so.
Christmas is a very quiet time for us – although we get together with friends, there’s no tree in the house and we don’t do gifts. The past few Christmas mornings, we go to a neighbour’s house for a brunch with champagne and crepes.
Then we have a big turkey dinner with friends. This year it was at our house, and by the end of the evening, the excitement of having company and having the air full of wonderful smells had completely worn Monty out!
The day after Xmas is Boxing Day in Canada. The tradition in Great Britain was for the wealthy to give a box containing a gift to their servants on this day. Today it’s a national holiday in Canada and a few other Commonwealth countries. In Canada it’s the shopping equivalent of Thanksgiving in the United States – the biggest sales of the year! It’s not a big deal in Whitehorse, though – our total contribution was a $29 slow cooker at Canadian Tire 🙁
The sun is coming up, so it’s time to get off the computer and get some outdoor activities planned for the day 🙂