A couple of weekends ago we had a rough time at SCSA. We had yet another big snow storm on top of at least a foot of snow from previous storms. It was bitter cold and the wind was blowing. This has been an unusually cold winter and keeping the citrus greenhouse warm has been a challenge for Steve. Many nights he is out stoking the fire in the Wood Master every few hours. He had been noticing for a few days prior to this particular weekend, that the stove was not keeping up with the demands for heat even with frequent tending. He made several calls to the manufacturer of the unit in order to trouble shoot the problem. Finally on Saturday, Ron, Steve, and Rich spent most of the day disassembling and cleaning the stove. It was a messy job and required lots of hard work. At the end of the day they learned that they would need to reconfigure and change the location of the barometric damper in the chimney and clean the stove more than once seasonally.
We hardly had time to celebrate the fact that the citrus and avocado trees were now out of danger of freezing, when we discovered that the snow load had collapsed the new shelter that houses the biochar feedstock. Not only was the wood pile inaccessible, but several pieces of equipment were buried in the rubble as well. As a result, biochar production came to a screeching halt. There has been quite a bit of head scratching over the collapse of the structure. How could a structure as strong as this crumple under the weight of the snow? Was the wind a factor? Do we want to replace it or build a different type of building to cover the wood as it dries? Although the collapse of the structure was frustrating, we all agree that we are grateful that it happened at night, when no one was working in and around the structure!
If you are thinking to yourself that sometimes challenges happen in three's, you would be correct. On Sunday morning while I was having my tea and enjoying the sunrise, I realized that the rolling greenhouse didn't look quite right. I called Steve over to the window to look at it. Sure enough, the greenhouse plastic was sagging excessively and in jeopardy of collapsing due to the snow! So at 6 a.m. Steve and I put on our snowshoes, and armed with shovels and a broom, went out in the bitter cold to rescue our greenhouse. Rich joined us an hour or so later, and after a couple more hours of work, we were satisfied that the greenhouse was safe--- crisis averted.
So what is the lesson in all of this? I think the lesson might be that sometimes winter can be a quiet time of rest & rejuvenation, of catching up on your reading, or maybe for taking a trip to a warm place. However, that is not our experience of winter this year. We feel a little bit like the pioneers who braved the weather, the wild animals, and sometimes the unexpected or unpredictable. But like the pioneers, we have a vision and a dream of creating a sustainable lifestyle and of passing on our knowledge and experience to others. And you know what else? This sure has made for an interesting story! ~Carol