Tag Archive for energy savings

Windows

10733688_10102009002469799_1425540537_nProjects and plans don’t always pan out the way you hope. As self-sufficient as we would like to be as a family, sometimes there are some things we just don’t even dare to tackle due to lack of knowledge and/or lack of time.

When we first bought a house here all gung-ho about doing everything and anything ourselves, but thankfully we’ve learned that that’s just not always possible. Sometimes you have to hire somebody to do the work for you. For a lot of the projects that we’ve had to do that for there’s a local person that we are rely on.

Matt and his new coworker, Bob, came over in the beginning of October to help add new windows in to our living room. The old ones were pretty shoddy, didn’t have screens, and most importantly leaked, rotting out the wood and calling carpenter ants into the fray. We’ve been dealing with those old windows for five years – trying to find different ways to remedy the situation, making the best as we went along. Well, whether we stay at the house long-term or move out short-term, it became very evident this summer with the increased leaking that the old windows needed to go.

Discussing our options over the pass course of the year so we decided to go to single windows the same size as the third living room window. This change not only would help the house be more accurate to the time it was built, but it would give a little bit more usability to the living room given its small size. At first we were a little apprehensive about losing our large picture window because…well, who doesn’t like a large beautiful picture window? But sometimes it just doesn’t fit style of the house, the style of your life, or the style of your wallet.

When all was said and done, the fiscal damaged totaled nearly $1500. It is a steep price for our modest income, but well worth it. Especially well worth it when you think of the headaches and hassle that we avoided and the time off that we didn’t have to take from everything else in order to install the windows through trial and error. Not to mention that these windows have a high efficiency rating and are just a beauty to look at.

Gobbling Up Wood

At the beginning of this heating season we received some bad news: the family land where we had been doing our cutting would be sold. We had a feeling that this would happen. Once Joe’s grandfather passed away, it was only a matter of time. The problem with being environmentally minded folks who burn wood but only live on .75 acres is the necessity with being granted access to a woodlot.

The past couple months we’ve been on pins and needles trying to figure something out while not driving ourselves bloody mad over it. Through out meditations and schemes, we finally hit upon something. Being the type to barter our abilities, Joe was talking to a local turkey farmer and family friend that had mentioned a while ago about Joe taking charge of the business’ website. When Joe mentioned our predicament, Bob Neal of The Turkey Farm (this website is the current one – Joe won’t be working on a new one for a month or so) was more than willing to help us out.

While the details still need to be sorted, it’s a huge relief to know that we have a source of warmth for next winter.

Garden Planning: So it begins…

The Christmas and Yule decorations are put away and another festive season has ended just in time for the round robins of nor’easters to start. Today’s storm is slated to drop 10″ – 18″ on us. Who knows what next week’s storm will grace us with. In the meanwhile, we stoke up the fire, throw on an extra layer, and huddle like chickens in our coop, keeping warm and fed.

The past couple years, as I’m putting away the Christmas decorations, I begin planning for the spring. However, until now, it’s all been pipe-dreams until it comes crunch time. This year the Raymond Homestead is right on the ball. So far we have all of our seeding selected and the order form ready to fill in. It’s just a matter of sending it. This season’s selection will consist of:

  • Tomatoes: San Diegos and Glacier Organics
  • Bell Peppers: King of the North Organics
  • Carrots: Over the Rainbow Mix
  • Sting Beans: Kentucky Wonders (This is the third second year growing strong beans from our own saved seeds.)
  • Broccoli: Will be purchased as seedlings from Hoof’n’Paw
  • Pumpkins: Long Pie Organics
  • Lettuce: Organic Lettuce Mix
  • Shell Peas: Coral
  • Hot Peppers: Long Red Cayennes (We’re hoping to use seeds that I saved from last year to start these, but we do have the back-up option of buying seedlings from Hoof’n’Paw.)
  • Cucumbers: Ministro
  • Drying Beans: Ireland Creek Annie
  • Basil: Sweet Organic
  • Dill: Fernleaf
  • Spinach: Donkey
  • Thyme: German Thyme
  • Beets: Early Wonder Tall Top Organic
  • Radishes: Easter Egg
  • Celery: Ventura
  • Potatoes: Classic Keepers 12 1/2 pound mix

While this seems like a long list, I’m hoping to add more variety in the follow years as well, but this was a good start that the hubby and I agreed upon. Given that the entire north garden will be converted to raised beds, we definitely have our work cut out for us. On the plus side, all the gardens are fenced in now, so that’s one less thing on the list.

As far as where we’re going to get our seeds, the answer to that is easy: FedCo Seeds. After having very submarginal luck from store-bought seeds, we decided that this year we’re going to go with a company known for their quality – both in seeds and service. More importantly, this ensures that we’re buying from lines that are able to survive in the north east regions and we’re helping to keep other farmers going. Please, even if you’re only doing containers, buy from FedCo, not Agway, Walmart, or any place else that sells seeds!

Now that I’m done my public service announcement, what do you lovely folks plan on planting in the spring?

Trips, Harvests, and Winter On The Way

Wood2Medium

So for those who may have not heard, the Raymond family will be taking a trip out to New York. The man of the house has training to do out there for work. We’ve been blessed that work will pay for the wife and the kiddo to go along, as no one in this house has even been out that way. As nerve wracked as we all are about the upcoming trip, we lucked out and will have a very awesome family friend who has dealt with both anxiety riddled dogs and chickens before staying at the house.  With a house/criddo sitter lined up, the stress is reduced some, but it still means that there’s way more to do than there are hours in the day.

The gardens still need to be finished up for the winter. Seeds need to be collected from some areas, and others need the carcasses of plants pulled up and composted. Manure needs to be laid down for winter, or at least a layer or two of newspaper. There are a few beds (lettuce and broccoli) that will remain untouched as an experiment to see if theses things will indeed come back year after year.

We’ve collected all the hot peppers, bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, and lettuce that we could eek out of the gardens. Now we’re simply waiting for the beans to finish drying up before we can harvest the seeds. This year we’re planning on gathering the usual bean seeds – both bush and pole style – and pumpkin seeds, but we’ll be adding in cucumber seeds, basil, hog’s heart tomato, Cheyenne, and stuffing pepper seeds. With any luck, we’ll be able to sprout them next spring.

We’re slowly gaining on our wood needs. The kindling bin is half full. We have two and a half cords cut, split, and stacked. About a third to a half cord lies in wait for the ax. We were gifted three Ranger fulls of wood by Uncle Dennis and Aunt Leona. There are also a few trees on the side of the road that we’ll be weeding out. It will be tight seasoning some of it by the time we crack into it, but at least it will be there. We may need to resort to borrowing or renting a splitter to get it all finished up, however.

There is plastic waiting in the basement for the windows, and scraps piled up to make a couple window quilts to help cut the draft on the kitchen windows. Clothes still need to have holes mended, blankets need to be washed and laid out, and inventory needs to be taken of things to knit. Planting supplies needs to go into the basement, and the shovels need to arise from their slumber.

The next three weeks will be crazy, to say the least. Wonderful, eventful, busy, and crazy, but we’ll be loving every minute of it.

Winter is on the horizon.

Snow3_2009

Today has brought the first cold, shiver-inducing rain of fall. While we’re looking at 80F for the next few days, mixed with humidity, there is no doubt that fall, and thus winter, is right on the horizon. After spending just ten minutes stacking wood, I was soaked to the bone and had to make the conscious decision that it was too wet to trust swinging an axe. Even though we’re behind on wood right now, I have no doubt we’ll get caught up before snow flies.

(I’ll be honest and admit that part of the issue is me not being able to wrap my head around us having to treat homesteading as a job. It’s hard to let the husband go off to cut wood when I haven’t seen him all day. I’m trying to forcibly adjust to that.)

Needless to say, we’ve come a long way from the above photo, taken in 2009. We’re no longer hesitant on whether something will burn. We know how to spot dry, dead-standing wood, and realize the need to use as much as possible from each and every tree that’s cut. While our jobs have changed since Vaughn was born, and I no longer get to help spot and load, I’ve become adept at emptying the truck and banging out two to three days worth of split wood in a twenty minute period. Joe has become more confident with felling and cutting to the point that, if he wanted to, I’m sure he could do a basic Wood Harvesting 101 lecture.

Aside from getting the wood in, food storage is coming along. It’s going slow, but getting there. Some items in the garden have been planted that we’ll try to winter over with a thick blanket of hay. Others still need to be planted. We have plenty of jam, some vegetables frozen, and are working on getting pickles put up. We’ve diversified greatly since last year. Here’s hoping we’ve done better with our estimates on what we’ll need to last through the winter now that there’s three of us.

There may be chores that need finishing and events that need to come to pass before we’re fully ready for the winter, yet that doesn’t set us to worrying. There have been times where we’ve bit out nails not knowing if we’ll be ready, but what’s the use in wasting time fretting? There’s stuff that needs doing.