on the stove room, cabbage, and chickens

When we moved into the house last summer, some things got deposited in rooms/closets/corners/cabinets that made sense.  Some did not.  Such is the nature of moving.

We weren’t sure what was going to go in the “stove room” (the quasi-utility room in the northwest corner of the basement with the enormous masonry (<– look! I spelled it right!?) stove foundation), but we put the two small freezers in there.  Plus some Other Stuff.  As we’ve settled into the house and figured out how to (better) use space over the past six months, we realized that we weren’t really maximizing the space available in the stove room.  In addition, it’s one of the cooler rooms in the house so it makes sense to use it as a storage place for winter vegetables, canned goods, and so forth, especially because the main floor is running in the low 70s F (or higher!), even in winter, thanks to the amazing masonry stove.

Last weekend we decided to move some things around in the stove room to get it more functional.  As usual, it was one of those domino effect, “moving one thing requires at least nine other things to happen first” projects.  Ah well.  But we started with moving the two freezers from the long southern wall to the short western wall of the stove room.  We also shuffled some other things around so that we could use most of the southern wall as homestead storage: room on the floor for bins of potatoes, squash, etc. plus a number of shelves for garlic, onions, canned goods, empty mason jars, baskets that we use a lot in summer, but not the rest of the year, etc.

Fortunately, the shelves were pretty cheap and easy to put up, especially given that our local lumber store actually cuts wood to spec and only charges per linear foot.  That means not having to buy an 8 foot board and only using 5 feet of it.  Not sure why we have ever bought lumber at one of the big box stores…  Unfortunately, Ron got a couple of inevitable carpentry war wounds.  Such is the nature of manual labor.

Also unfortunately, it turns out cabbage is not as storage hardy as we had thought–and wanted.  We had three cabbage left in one of those baskets.  We had planned to make some sort of casserole with one cabbage and more mason-jar sauerkraut with the other two.  Mais non.  Ron cut into all three of them and they had started going bad.  Miraculously, they did not stink.  At least before cutting into them.

There’s no waste in nature when you have a big compost bin and/or chickens.  We hoped the chickens would enjoy the cabbage, if not to eat, then to play with and bicker over.  They were terrified, however, of a big basket of cabbage chunks thrown into the coop.  Took them several hours to recover.  Wimps.  They did seem to like digging around in the cabbage, but we never saw them eating much.  The cabbage will therefore eventually end up in the compost, but via the chicken coop (avec poop).  And for the moment, the coop has a cruciferous odor in addition to fowlish scent.  Not bad while it’s below freezing, but I suspect it will really stink at the next warm spell.

Morals of the stove room, spoiled cabbage, and chickens?  Shelves are good.  Frequent local stores, not big box chains.  Don’t try to keep cabbage so long.  Sauerkraut exists for a reason.  And don’t scare chickens with cabbage chunks.

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