Saturday, January 19, 2008

Winter Activities in the Country Side

Many people knit in the winter: one year my neighbor knit me, a daughter, and our niece each a pair of socks, as well as for everyone in her family. Many Czechs like to whiten inside walls [nowadays, using wall paint, not whitewash]. To air the room, they open windows, of course, but the heating helps to clear fumes more quickly than in summer, they say. Some women still have "darning" bees where they all get together to strip goose feathers for feather beds. The woman at whose house they're working provides a nice supper.

"Keep the homefires burning" is not just a saying! The most important winter activity is making fires and keeping them going. Sometimes this includes going to the woodshed; generally others bring in wood. In the Zamek it is possible to have seven different fires. A small furnace between the TV/computer room and the accountant's office also heats a hall and bathroom while a wood-fired cookstove heats the whole arched kitchen. A large wood-gas furnace heats radiators in dining room, bedrooms, laundry room; and floors in a bedroom suite, in bathrooms, and, slightly, in chapel.

A blue tile stove, with seating area, is in the office of the farm manager, woodshop manager, and forester. When the fire is going there you must not lean on it while wearing a nylon jacket! In the big dining room and library there's a large metal stove, with pipes which spread heated air. It's a special occasion to build a fire there because all that wood has to be carried upstairs. When it's very cold the everyday dining room's fire is also lit.

I catch a few people to do a few repairs, things suitable for doing inside, in warm rooms.

We invite a few people over for lunch, dinner, or to spend a few nights. We might go to Prague for a day or two, seeing friends, going to a party, swimming in a hotel pool.

As we each finish our new Christmas books, we trade with others.

The sheep are fed every day. At least now they are locked up in the barn, no jumping over fences, or breaking through them. Often we must thaw their water faucet.

The woodshop manager supervises making of special orders, such as doors, tables, Adirondack chairs along with wine racks, bookcases, and pegged shelves. The biggest concern is to manufacture enough fence and balcony slats so there's ample stock when requests for thousands pour in a few months.

The forester has trees cut and delivered for our woodshop production, along with planning springtime planting of baby trees. Forest workers are making the fences which will protect these young trees.

The farm manager plans fields for spring, with, this year, starting no-till farming. Her tractor driver repair machinery. She discusses crop prices for the coming season with buyers. She resists hiring a gardener!

I plan flower and herb beds and some tree and shrub planting around the Zamek. I try to hire a gardener!