Tuesday, March 10, 2009

How to stay warm in the Cold

Its March and its -18C this morning. We were planning on shearing the angora goats today. We had our first goat kids yesterday -- 3 kids from 3 moms. One kid had trouble finding the udder -- the mom's fiber is looooong. So Ian came up from the coast to shear this lot and we wake up to -18C. BRRRR.

The house is cold -- our only source of heat is a Regency Close Clearance wood stove in the downstairs. So normally this would be enough -- it is only -18C. But it hasn't been that cold lately so we hadn't been using it on full. The log house heats up and gives off heat at night -- when we use the wood stove all day.

So how do you keep warm in the cold? First of all wool really helps. We have a thrift store wool blanket under the bottom sheet, like a mattress pad, and that keeps our body heat close to us. I even use it in summer as the wool wicks moisture away and keeps us just the right temperature.

Also wool doesn't absorb body odors the way cotton and synthetic fibres do so it stays fresh and clean.

Then we put 2 more wool blankets on top of the bed (from the thrift store again) and top that with a pretty handmade quilt. More wool blankets on top of that if it gets to -30C.

The window is covered with a wool blanket, too, and sealed around the edges with clothes pegs -- not pretty but it is comfortable.

Then for personal comfort there are wool throws (real wool -- not acrylic) on all the chairs and couches. We dress in wool and mohair sweaters with a silk shirt underneath. The silk protects from static shocks and the wool and silk insultate. A hat goes on the head -- even indoors and if its really cold its an angora hat since angora is 8 times warmer than wool.

Then if it is still chilly, like first thing in the morning before the woodstove has a chance to heat the house, I heat up a flax bag in the microwave and lay it on my neck to stay warm -- great at the foot of the bed to preheat the blankets, or laid across the stomach while sitting at the computer.

What's a flax bag? Here's how I make one:

I cut a 12 x 15 strip of fabric and folded it right sides together. I stitched on the two long sides -- leaving the short side open. I turned it right side out and sewed up the middle to create 3 channels in the bag. Using a funnel I filled the channels with whole flax seed. Then turned under and stitched up the top of the bag. Then I sewed a pillow case for the bag so that the case can be washed separately.

The bag is heated in the microwave for 1 min. and 30 seconds -- becomes hot and then gives off this heat for about an hour. Its a simple comfort that helps relieve the stress of cold.

Don't have time to make a bag or lack sewing skills -- I use an old cotton sock --one without holes -- one of the mismatched ones in the laundry hamper that's lost its mate. Fill half full of flax seed (or dried beans, or whole wheat kernals -- don't use pop corn!). Tie the top in a knot to hold in the filling. Microwave on high for 90 seconds -- more or less depending on your microwave's power. An almost instant comfort -- though not pretty, it is warm.

So we'll be putting bales of hay all around the goat barn today to keep them warm and postpone shearing until after 2pm when it has a chance to warm a bit -- its supposed to warm up tomorrow to -9C. And then we are on a warming trend.

Looking forward to Spring. I hear that the sun spots are beginning their cycle again so we may even have a moderately warm summer. Last year we were so cold during the summer that the beans couldn't set fruit. And the zucchini failed. But a gardener is ever optimistic.

Think Spring! Stay warm.

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