24 pounds of ashes and a buried cat
Thursday, February 20 2014
Today was a gorgeous day, with highs in the upper 40s and clear sunny skies. Given the weather it had to compete with, it felt like spring. The birds were in full agreement with me on this, singing and flitting about as if it was time to plant tomatoes.
In conditions like this (especially so far out from the winter solstace), the house itself can be heated by solar energy, so I didn't bother to build a fire in the woodstove. With a cold stove, I took the opportunity to empty the firebox ashes for the first time in a month. As I have been doing since December, I weighed the ashes and so collected a third point of data. As expected, I'd burnt more firewood over the preceding 28 days than I had in the other two measured periods, producing 24 pounds of ashes and using wood at an estimated rate of 66.23 lbs per day. (One of these months I'll try to find a way to measure the fuel before it goes in the firebox and see how accurate my firewood estimates are.)
|Number of days||Ash|
|Est. firewood burnt||Est. firewood/day
|Nov 14-Dec 19 2013||36||13.5 lbs||0.27 cords||29 lbs
|Dec 20 2013-Jan 22 2014||33||20.5 lbs||0.41 cords||48 lbs
|Jan 23 2014-Feb 19 2014||28||24 lbs||0.48 cords||66.23 lbs
The main order of business today was getting Marie (aka "the Baby") buried. Her corpse had spent the night in a plastic bag under the picnic table on the east deck, and I wanted it to find its home in the ground as quickly as possible. So I grabbed a snow shovel and uncovered a patch of ground directly west of our seldom-used bluestone barbecue grill and then tentatively picked at the exposed soil with a mattock. While the crust of the soil was frozen to a depth of one or two inches, I was amazed to discover that the ground wasn't frozen any deeper than that. Evidently the 20 inch blanket of snow had allowed the soil (which must have been frozen to a deep level during the severe cold that had preceded the snow) to thaw out. A further miracle was that the site I chose had only a few incidental rounded cobblestones in it. It was only six or seven feet from where I'd buried Sally, an extremely rocky site full of flat shards of bluestone, but here it was mostly clay, permitting me to do most of the digging with a posthole digger. I must have found a small place in the terrain where passing glaciers did more deposition than erosion.
Once I had the hole dug, Gretchen carried the Baby's corpse out of the house and I lay her in a bed of pine needles. As I had with Sally, I covered her body in more needles before covering her with soil. I'd greatly simplified the task of refilling the hole by putting all the excavated dirt into plastic bins, which allowed me to refill the hole by simply dumping out the bins.
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