Tag Archive for heating

A Well Needed Break

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The past few days have given us a well needed break from the sub 30F temperatures that gobble up the wood, but today is the last of that. Tomorrow the temps dip back down below 20F during the day and below zero at night. While the last stretch wasn’t too horrible to endure, thanks to the backup heat of an oil furnace and an abundance of maple and birch for a wood source, I’m a bit concerned this next one might be a tad more difficult. We’re now into a cord of willow. Many people refuse to burn willow. It burns hot and fast. It means more reloads and less of a chance that there will be coals in the morning. Given that it was split in early December – after being cut for the appropriate amount of time – and that it was from a tree larger than 24″ at breast height, some of the wood is fighting to dry out still. That means stacking it in the house before using it.

Prepping for this next snap also meant busting out more kindling as we’ve used up much of what I prepped in the fall. While Little Mister played in his room, I was able to move to the front wood bin the wood for the next day or so and work out a wheelbarrow full of kindling. Even though it will be cold out tomorrow, here’s hoping I get the chance to get another load in.

It might be willow, but it will burn.

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.

Trips, Harvests, and Winter On The Way

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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.

Let there be fire!

I’m not going to make this a long, lengthy post as I think Joe would be the best one to handle explaining all the background and particulars of our long journey to wood burning, but we’ve done it!

We’ve been using the stove for over a month and love it. We do still have oil backup since Teeny (lovebird) can’t get below 62F for long at all, but it’s barely been running.

Needless to say, we love it! :-)

The One Year Mark

Actually, I lie, it’s been over a year. It’s been about a year and a month. We closed on our house last year on June 13th. It’s amazing the things that change in over a year.

Kiddos

Not only have we added two more children to our mix (Belle, a border collie mix, and Jacks, a mini-rex), but we also said goodbye to our beloved Guepo (common goldfish of 9.5 inches). Thankfully, his sister, Kitana, is doing well.  Aside from the loss, the family as a whole has really bonded into one that I’ve always dreamed of. While some may not think of animals as kids or family, we do. This is our family, part of what makes us multifarious.

We also had a few visitors. One of which I really felt needed to be acknowledge because he’s just so cute! I give to you Steve the Snake:

He’s a cute little garter snake that accidentally got nicked on the head with the lawn mower. We brought him in and cleaned up the cut. We used the extra fish tank as a temp home for him for a few days to make sure he healed alright. I’m happy to say that we were able to let him go a couple days ago. Since the cut wasn’t very deep, and he got very lucky, he made a full recovery.

Heating

This past year has also brought us more of a want to be self-sufficient. We’re slowly working towards having an outdoor woodboiler. Right now we have our new-to-us, used-to-someone-else oil tank that needs to go into the basement this summer. The previous one is a bit old and is a little untrustworthy. The “new” one is only 150 gallons, which is just the right size as the most we ever have delievered is 125 at a time. Plus, this means that once we have the outdoor woodboiler there is no need to fret about having too much oil just sitting there.

This past winter we only used 600 gallons of heating oil, which compared to many is nothing at all. If I remember hearing right, I think the average amount of oil a single-family household consumes a winter is 800 gallons, which puts us roughly 200 less than that. But, that’s a national statistic. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Maine or New England average is much higher.

Gardening/Harvesting

Last year we only had one small garden bed that contained some peas, beans, and tomatoes. This year, we increased by far! Total, we have:

  • 8 silver fir tomatoes
  • 5 sunrise cherry tomatoes
  • 6 buttercup squash plants
  • 6 pie pumpkin plants
  • 8 bell pepper plants
  • 12 sugar snap pea plants
  • 6 – 8 string bean plants
  • Lettuce
  • ~ 40 potato plants

I also went strawberry picking this past season. I currently have three cups frozen in the freezer that I hope to make strawberry-rhubarb jam with in the near future. I’m also planning on going blueberry picking.

As you can tell, part of being self-sufficient comes into learning new trades as well. For me, the big one this year will be canning. My mom was wonderful enough to bequeath to me the canning jars her and my grandmother used.


So far, I have 42 jars. Some may be used for making Yule gifts, I’m not sure yet. Mom says that she has even more jars somewhere! Here’s hoping that I can find enough things to fill them with!