We turned off our heat here a month ago

Hello Summer.We burn coal for heat-stoker coal. We burn it in our Stokermatic furnace in the basement. One loads the coal into a baby hopper that feeds, via auger, the coal into the furnace. Lots of people burn coal up here as there are quite a few very active coal mines are close by in the North Fork of the Gunnison River Valley. The mines supply coal by railroad to huge coal burning power plants west of here in Utah. I think the majority of the electric power ends up in California. The individual pieces of stoker coal are about the size of a marble. Every morning I get up and add more coal to the hopper (from the coal bin) and clean out the clinkers. Clinkers are what’s left after the coal burns up. They’re funny looking; almost pumice like in appearance. When the metal clinker buckets are full, we empty them onto our gravel lane. The clinkers help the road base be not quite so muddy during mud season (spring). ON SUNDAY, May 28 we turned off our heat. My daughter, granddaughter and son-in-law left that day to go back to their home in Leander, just north of Austin. We kept the furnace on until they left as it’s nice to have a bit of heat in the bathrooms, especially if you’re from a somewhat hot and humid place and not used to the low morning temperatures. They had arrived here May 16 when there were snow flurries and the temperature was in the low 40s. May 12 and 13 the low temperatures were 28 and 30’bye bye apricots. We were sure we’d have some apricots this year. We had a grand show of blossoms in April so we were in hopes of a grand crop this year. Most years we get frozen out. This year was no exception. They call this place Fruitland Mesa, but it really should be called Fruitless Mesa. Once the chimney sweep shows up and cleans up after the winter coal burn we’ll not mess with the coal related items until August. At that time we call and have four or five tons of coal delivered. Our coal bin holds seven tons so it’s just a matter of ‘guesstimating’ how much we’ll need from one August to the next August. WE USUALLY FIRE up our furnace around mid-September. Our late and early freeze dates are June 15 and Sept. 15. However, a freeze can always ‘surprise’ us in between these dates, too. As you can imagine, one learns to buy and plant as big a flower or vegetable from the nursery as one can manage if one wants to grow anything that matures. The same holds true for planting new trees…the bigger the better. In reviewing my past columns in the Standard-Herald, it was apparent that I’d had a couple of ‘senior moments.” One was when I told everyone that I live in north-central Colorado. I don’t. I live in west-central Colorado. Believe me there’s a big difference. North-central Colorado is big time winter country. North- central is where Loveland, Arapaho Basin, Keystone, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and Vail ski areas are all located. The other ‘moment’ was when I mentioned that there are 20 openings per irrigation pipe. . .there are only 12. Sometimes, ‘all the lights are on but nobody is at home.’ Here’s a little ditty I ran across the other day: The early bird may get the worm, but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese. Mickey Smith lives with his wife, Karen, and their three dogs in west- central Colorado on Fruitland Mesa at an elevation of 7,200 feet. Often it’s a three-dog night at the Smiths.

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