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Slowing Down and Eating Well October 23, 2006

Posted by Laura in Family, Farm.
1 comment so far

The norm in this country has become one of packing as many events into one day as possible. Speed is the goal rather than thoroughness or craftsmanship. Many hours are spent driving hurriedly to work, school, ballgames, music/dance lessons, and so on. The main criteria for the food we consume in this country are convenient, cheap, and fast. Wow, things have changed!

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Not too many decades ago, family meals at home were the norm. And the food on the table was likely grown mostly in the backyard garden or produced locally. And it tasted good! Nowadays, we settle for fruit picked before it was ripe (so it can survive shipment across country), prepackaged foods with plenty of preservatives, and bland taste all around. And we usually consume it so fast (often in the car) that we hardly notice anyway. Too bad!

We’ve developed an odd dichotomy with regards to purchasing our food, too. Most folks don’t think twice about paying over a dollar for a non-nutritive bottled soft drink that will last half an hour, (or $3 for a cup of gourmet coffee) but balk at paying even $1.50 for a week’s worth of eggs. Strange, huh?

In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in really good food. Organizations like Slow Food have prompted people to start thinking about the repercussions of continuing to eat this way. Health ramifications aside (that would be worthy of a discussion of in its own right), the assembly line type, high efficiency, low variety way the commercial food market prizes is jeopardizing the mere existence of many kinds of foods.

Each region of the country used to produce foods unique to its locality- fruits and veggies that thrived there, diverse breeds of animals well-suited to the climate and terrain, and seasonings and flavors that reflected the heritage of the people who lived there. As food began to be shipped greater distances and the cost of production took precedence over flavor, the variety of foods began to dwindle.

As the population grew and expanded out into what had been farmland for many generations, the number of farmers producing food for the growing market fell. One result of these changes was the onset of dense confinement operations for livestock. Instead of a herd of cows out on pasture, contentedly eating grass (the food their 4-chambered stomachs were designed to eat), hundreds of cows were packed into feedlots and fed grain until slaughter. Backyard flocks of chickens began to disappear in favor of huge houses that held thousands of animals from one carefully developed inbred hybrid line. The birds either produced a fleshy carcass in record time or laid record-breaking numbers of eggs per year on minimum feed. Uniformity and consistency became more important than nutrition and taste.

Another result was the whittling away of diversity in produce. Rather than planting a variety of beautiful vegetables that were not very space efficient, farmers began focusing solely on the single crop they could get the most yield out of in the smallest space. As farmers adapted to what the markets demanded, they gradually stopped maintaining flocks and herds of some traditional species. Some breeds began to disappear. Many stopped saving heirloom seeds their ancestors had passed down in favor of planting the new hybrid, chemically influenced, patented seed promised to make them more money so they didn’t lose their farms.

The American family farm, as it used to be, has been steadily disappearing in the last hundred years. Fortunately, there is a growing group of folks who realize the value of this vanishing lifestyle and are embracing it for their own families. They are moving back to these farms, returning to the nearly lost wisdom of bygone days, and choosing to live outside of what is now the norm in our culture. We are part of this group.

Though we will probably never farm “for a living,” (who could afford health insurance?), we enjoy our garden and animals and are working toward an ever more self-sufficient lifestyle. It gives us great satisfaction to count the items on the dinner table that we raised and to fill a cupboard with food we canned from our own produce. We think the old ideals of investing in projects as a family, letting our children work alongside us and learn handyman skills, and nurturing a respect for the creatures for which we’ve been entrusted to care are ideals worth preserving.bhammerfence8-31-06.JPG

Besides those of us who feel a personal calling to live a farming lifestyle, there is a growing interest among the general population to know that the food they are eating is raised in a healthy and humane manner. These people want to know the farmers who produce the food they eat and buy it directly to support his operation and make sure they continue to have healthy choices available.

The good news is that the more the local public supports the areas farmers, the more healthy, tasty food choices will become available. Many farm families are trying to bring breeds of heritage animals back from the brink of extinction. And once you have tasted the difference between mass-produced commercial fare and food the way it is supposed to be made, you’ll want access to it all the time.

Community Supported Agriculture groups (CSAs) are popping up on the outskirts of cities. Customers contract to buy a share of a farmer’s (or collective group of farmers’) produce and sometimes meat. On prescribed days, they meet at an agreed upon location to pick up their fresh locally-grown food. Farmer’s markets are also making a comeback.

If you are interested in supporting small farmers in your area, you might try one of the links below, do an online search, or call your agriculture extension agency to find them.

http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

http://www.eatwellguide.org/

http://www.biodynamics.com/csa.html

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. October 19, 2006

Posted by Joe in Family.
2 comments

You know, I’ve been self-employed for 10 years now. Being self-employed can be stressful at times – you have to do everything yourself. You are the CEO, CFO, Project Manager, Sales staff, Travel Agent, and Janitor. When you’re self-employed, if it’s going to be done, it’s up to you to do it. That even includes the things that you end up outsourcing. And of all those job roles that I just mentioned, not one of them actually produces income. You still have to find time to actually do the work that generates revenue.

So every few months I re-evaluate whether or not I should get a real job. Working someplace with a guaranteed salary, where I can put in a 8 to 5 job and not bring the office home with me sounds very appealing at times. But I know that in IT, that kind of job is pretty hard to find.

But every few months for the past 10 years I’ve decided that being self-employed has too many advantages to give it up quite yet. And this morning was definitely one of those times when the freedom of being self-employed more than makes up for the accompanying stress and whatever downsides there may be.

You see, on Monday night, one of the other Cub Scouts allowed Benjamin to borrow his archery set. For various reasons, I haven’t been able to carve out time to let Benjamin shoot it – Tuesday night I was in a class until after 9:00pm and Wednesday night I didn’t get home from a client visit before it was too dark. Benjamin’s been very good about it, but I could definitely tell he was really eager to try it out.

So while working from home this morning, I took a break and we went outside for a little while to shoot some arrows. It made his day!

It’s simple joys like this that help me to keep my day job in perspective. And it’s moments like this that keep me self-employed.

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Scout Jamboree 2006 October 16, 2006

Posted by Joe in Scouts.
3 comments

This past weekend, Scouts from the Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts of America gathered together for its annual Scout Jamboree. Approximately 3,000 Scouts plus parents and siblings (totaling approximately 7,000 people) gathered together at the Wilson County Fairgrounds for a weekend of camping and fun.

Benjamin and I went with his pack. We have had a great time!

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The weekend kicked off on Friday afternoon when we caravanned to the campsite. It took us approximately an hour and a half to get there from our slice of creation. The time passed quickly because a friend, Zack (pictured in the center of the photo above), traveled with us.

When we got there, we pitched our tent and readied our supplies, preparing for what we knew would be a night spent in the cold air of October. Benjamin was amazed at the number of tents there – acres and acres of tents within feet of each other.

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That night, the temperatures dipped down close to freezing. We bundled up in sleeping bags and quilts to keep warm. We also had an air mattress to keep us off the cold ground. Unfortunately the air mattress had a slow leak in it. Every hour and a half, I had to wake Benjamin up so I could pump more air into it to keep my bottom off the ground. Even so, he said he was having a great time.

Saturday was fully of activities.

Benjamin competed in the Bungy Run. You strap a harness around your torso and run as far down a track as you can before the bungy cord attached the harness jerks you back toward the starting position.

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We also learned to work with leather. He made a special design for Mommy.

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We learned about Ham Radios and Morse Code.

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We tossed the football.

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And we learned to make a rope out of twine.

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As soon as he finished the rope, we said he wanted to give it to Rachel to use as a jump rope.

Benjamin’s favorite activity of the day was the rope course. There, he learned the various ways that you can use a rope to cross some divide, such as a river. You can crawl on top of the rope, if you’re well balanced.

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You can hang from beneath the rope and crawl across it.

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This takes less balance, but more flexibility.

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Next you can walk across one rope and use a second rope for stability.

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And finally, there’s the zip cord method.

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It was on this part of the course that our friend, Zack, got his thumb caught in the pulley. An x-ray at the local hospital showed no broken bones. But he does have ligament damage, requiring him to wear a cast for 3 to 5 weeks. Nothing too serious though; Zack is fine and in good spirits.

That night we sat around the campfire, cooked one of Benjamin’s favorite foods – chicken noodle soup. Some hot chocolate and S’mores completed the meal.

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After another cold night, temperatures again hovering around the freezing point, we broke camp on Sunday morning. The pack collectively decided that, as good as our outdoor camp food had been, a trip to Cracker Barrel was more appealing. So we packed up everything and headed to the restaurant for a good home style breakfast.

When we returned home, Laura had told me that on Sunday morning, she had to break the ice off the top of the chicken’s water trough. Now that’s cold!

What a trip!

The first fire of fall October 11, 2006

Posted by Joe in Family, Farm.
3 comments

In a previous post, Laura described how we’ve been restoring an old pot belly stove to use as an additional heating source in our family room.

At the time of her posting we had the wall bricked and the stove refinished and sitting in place, but we lacked a critical component – we didn’t have chimney. As one who once lit a fire in a fireplace without opening the damper, I can tell you that having a good, unobstructed path for the smoke to leave the interior of the house is important.

So, this past Saturday morning – after a week’s worth of research via the Internet and talking with people at various stores – I set out to buy the supplies I’d need to construct a chimney for our new stove. Of course my first stop was Rural King, a great store for everything a homesteader could need.

I bought the pieces that I thought we’d need – single-walled stovepipe to connect the stove to the wall-thimble (the hole in the brick wall), a double-walled Tee pipe to turn the chimney skyward, double-walled chimney pipe to channel the smoke several feet above the roof line, and a chimney cap to keep the rainwater out of the chimney, among other odds and ends to help secure everything in place.

On Saturday afternoon, I gathered all the supplies and set out to construct our new chimney. It was actually a lot easier than I had anticipated. Several hours after starting the project, everything was in place!

So then it was the time of truth. The only way tell if a chimney will work, whether it will draw the smoke from its source into the great outdoors, is to build a fire. It was then that I realized that you have to have a certain amount of confidence in your own abilities to light a fire inside your home when you’re the one who designed and built the chimney. Would it draw? I don’t know. Would it completely fall apart with the addition of heat? Maybe. Would it adequately contain the heat and not transfer it to the flammable carpet, subfloor, or exterior wall? I hope so. Did I take all the necessary steps for this to work? Only one way to tell.

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So, late Saturday afternoon, we assembled around the pot bellied stove and placed a small amount of wood in the fire chamber. We used some of the red oak I’ve been cutting – the really large tree that fell this past spring (almost 4 foot in diameter at its base). Benjamin did the honors of lighting the first fire.

I forgot to mention that one of the things I procured at Rural King was a new fire extinguisher. Every home should have at least one, even if you’re not intentionally setting fire to something.

Anyway, after a few minutes, the blaze grew large enough to create the draw. It worked! That night, we all sat around our new heat source, with the windows open and fans running. It was hot; but at least we got to test out our new stove.

It’ll get a better test in the coming nights; it’s supposed to get down to 32 degrees tomorrow night. I can’t wait!

Are You My Mother? Part 2 October 8, 2006

Posted by Laura in Farm.
2 comments

I tried to feed the little poult again before going to Bible study, but he wasn’t interested.  His plaintive search continued and I felt badly for his loneliness.  I began to formulate a plan to give him company.

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When I got back from church, it was past dark.  I had decided to try putting a couple of the few surviving chicks in the stock tank brooder with “the wanderer” after they had gone to bed for the night.  (The other chicks hatched in the last 2 months had been swiped during the night.  I’m pretty sure, by the presence of a carcass in the morning and the style of attack, that our villain was an opossum this time- we shore up our defenses against one predator and face attack from a new one.  We’ve certainly learned a lot in the past 21 months!).

I grabbed a flashlight and headed out to the henhouse.  Nestled among the “big chickens” were these newly feathered miniatures.  I got the two smallest and took them down to the barn stall where the stock tank is.  I put them inside and stood back to watch what would happen. 

Combining groups of animals or ones of different ages or breeds is something that must be done with caution.  As I have mentioned in past postings, there is a hierarchy among critters and each time a new combination is made, you can expect that some time will be spent working out (sometimes in a bloody fashion) where each member now falls.  Fortunately, the two additions are young enough and felt nervous enough about the new surroundings they found themselves in that they were quite passive toward the smaller, inquisitive poult. 

I need to find a good name for the turkey baby- something that conveys its epic plight, determination, and so on.  The main trouble is that I won’t know for a while if it is male or female.  If it is a boy, I’m thinking something like Hugo or Ulysses.  Nothing quite right comes to mind for a female yet.  A heroine name would be good, but Joan of Arc is not right.  Neither is Marie Antoinette.  🙂 Maybe I should just go with another “founding family” name to match the George and Martha (Washington). 

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Anyway, I found it fascinating to watch what happened next.  That little turkey poult that had never laid eyes on another bird just KNEW those two were kin.  He had taken some solace from my attention, but clearly now I could see he wasn’t fooled into thinking I was actually his mama. 

When I set the two chicks into the tank, the turkey’s crying stopped and he approached them on wobbly legs.  He’d never seen what he himself looked like, so he couldn’t be identifying with them from similar appearance (besides, as you see in the pictures, he still looks pretty different, with no feathers and a being a good bit smaller). 

The little day-old poult approached each in turn and pecked at their beaks.  I realized with amazement that he was looking to be fed by “mother”-  I have witnessed this scene many, many times among the interactions of the broodies and their offspring.  But even though he had not hatched out under the protective warmth and cover of a feathered and beaked mama, he instinctively KNEW he should have one.  He KNEW that food was passed from mama to baby by the beak and he was trying to tell “mama” he was hungry.  The survival instincts that God had given this little fuzzball just floored me.

Since these two chicks may have experienced some bullying by the older, larger birds in the henhouse, I wasn’t sure what they would do when the poult continued to peck at their beaks.  I was afraid they would attack the little tyke thinking he was trying to be aggressive and higher in the “pecking order” than they.  They could easily have killed him, especially if both turned on him.  But strangely, they just allowed the beak-pecking without reproach. 

After a few minutes, they began to wander around their new home and investigate, all the while keeping an eye out for the return of “The Big Hand from the Sky” (that would be scary me, who had plucked them off their comfy roosts while they slept and carried them far away from their home).  Eventually, they found the cooked egg yolks I had put in there to eat.  (Eggs contain nearly every nutrient needed in a human diet, the exception being vitamin C.  The chicks and poults live for their gestational period in the shell being fed by the yolk within.  It is a natural high-energy food to continue feeding them for a while when they hatch, especially if you find yourself with “surprise” chicks and no chick food on hand). 

The chicks began to devour the yolks.  The poult watched them and again tried to get food from their beaks as they ate.  He managed to grab bits and eat it and they allowed it surprisingly.  He followed them to the water and drank when they did also.  After a while, he made a few attempts at eating the yolks from the plate as they did.  His prognosis started looking good.

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(That pale yellow thing exiting the picture at the left is the little poult.  The older two have moved on to check out the offerings in the ration/grain feeder).

To keep heat from the lamp in and predators out, I had criss-crossed scrap wood over the top of the stock tank.  I removed some of the pieces to try and take picture of the new roommates all together.  The “borrowed siblings” are fully feathered and have had opportunities to practice their fly-jumping in the past.  When the “Big Hand” appeared to get the wood shavings out of their food, they panicked and went over the side of the tank.   Oops!   Nothing’s too easy, huh?

Immediately, the poult started crying again and the chicks bee-lined to a corner of the stall and wedged themselves in behind a vertical support.  Wouldn’t you know it that a naughty hen was also in that corner laying an egg there instead of the henhouse?  When I reached past her to retrieve the chicks, she promptly bit me.  I muttered a couple of gloom and doom predictions for her future before picking her up and tossing her out of my way.  I eventually retrieved the chicks and returned them to the brooder tank, reminding them of the smorgasbord of food, lack of competition with the bigger chickens, and increased safety of their new home.  Nice propaganda, but it didn’t carry a lot of weight coming from me, I guess.

I’ll end it here for today, but I’ll keep you updated on the baby’s progress.

 

 

Are You My Mother? Part 1 October 6, 2006

Posted by Laura in Family, Farm.
1 comment so far

Our two Royal Palm turkeys (George and Martha) are coming along nicely. They have grown quite a bit over the last month or so since they were moved to the original chicken tractor. Given the oncoming fall, though, it is unlikely that Martha will begin laying eggs before spring.

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We are still interested in starting a flock for meat use, so I bid on and won more eggs from a different breeder last month. This would ensure a diverse enough genetic pool to produce healthy offspring we hoped. We had one more broody hen left, so I tucked the eggs under her about the second week of September.

The Barred Rock hen dutifully set them for about 3 weeks, and then we had a spell of evenings where the temps got into the low 50’s. She decided child-rearing was behind her for the year and trotted off back to the henhouse leaving those precious eggs to chill in the brooding coop alone.

I spotted them the next morning when making rounds feeding all the various pens of chickens. I rushed them into the house in hopes of saving them and promptly decided the time to finally buy an incubator had come.

I put the 6 eggs in and turned them for several days. When we got a few days short of the anticipated hatch date, I stopped turning them. This was to allow the poult (or chick) to position itself for hatching.

One morning when I went up to check on them, I noticed an unpleasant odor and brown ooze seeping out of one of the eggs. No doubt that one was rotten. I VERY CAREFULLY removed it with layers of paper towels and sealed it in a bag, then cleaned up the mess. The others I let stay in hopes of some that survived the chill.

Yesterday (Wednesday) morning, I went up to check the humidity level and temperature again. I noticed one tiny chip out of an egg and a chirping coming from it. I was delighted! I periodically went up and encouraged the little one to keep at it and more pieces of shell fell away.

By dinner time, there was a definite crack and I was getting really eager to see the babe inside. It was so hard not to “help,” but I know that is something it has to do alone.

After church, I rushed back up and saw that about 1/3 of the shell was pushed off and a little head was visible. I quickly called the rest of the family and we watched as the balled-up baby pushed itself out into the world (well, at least into the incubator). It was one of those proud parent moments that get you misty-eyed.

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Rachel danced around and cheered for it and I stood amazed at the sight. It was so delicate- all wet and uncoordinated, having never before stood or used its little wings. At the same time, I marveled at the strength and determination of that tiny thing that it had persevered in pecking away at that shell for HOURS and had finally emerged victorious.

Each new life that comes into this world makes it only after clearing countless hurdles (most we never know about). At so many points along the way, one small thing could go wrong and it would never be born, yet all the tiny details are coordinated seemingly effortlessly by God. His power and majesty never cease to amaze me.

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We let the newborn spend the night in the incubator so it would be warm, could get dry, and might rest in the darkness after its hard work. This morning, I moved the tot to an improvised broody area, sans the usual mama hen. I talked to him a lot, stroked his little head and back, and told him how sorry I was that none of his siblings had made it. I knew he would be very lonely. He was pretty calm and watched me carefully as I talked to him. I’ve always heard about “imprinting” and that the first creature a baby animal sees it will assume is “mother.” I wondered if that would be the case here.

I had cleaned out and prepared our old stock water tank with a heat lamp and wood shavings. I put the little guy in there with some food and water and watched for a while. He wandered around and around the perimeter of the tank chirping and calling for mama or at least siblings. Several times before leaving home for the day, I went in and talked to him and held him for a while. That seemed to comfort him some, but the oval path around the tank picked right up again when I put him back in. Despite my encouragement, he wouldn’t eat or drink- just staggered around and around.

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I went right back to him when I got home and he was still okay. At some point during the day, he had tired out and lay down under the lamp to rest. He picked up his nomadic journey when he heard my voice again.

There is more to tell, but this has gotten quite long and the hour is getting late. If you are interested in reading the rest, check back in another day or two.

 

Coming Through…Every Chicken for Himself! October 3, 2006

Posted by Laura in Farm.
3 comments

Last fall, we had several hens go broody at what I thought was an odd time- the beginning of October. I do so hate to waste a good broody hen, so I bought some eggs from breeders auctioning fertile eggs on eBay. The clutch set by arthritic Sgt. Black included a few of this and that from a lady who bred quite a few varieties. Out of that hatching, we got 3 Silkies (remember Russia, so named for her “fur” hat?), 1 Frizzle who looks like she had a perm, and a pair of Mille Fleurs. They are a French bantam breed and the name translates to “Thousand Flowers,” because of the many black and white spots on the feather tips.

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They amuse me greatly. They have puffy cheek feathers which gives them a chipmunk-like apprearance. The female has long curving feathers coming off the sides of her legs. It looks like she is trying to run in snowshoes when she gets in a hurry. The male is extremely self-assured, but suffers from “little man’s syndrome” without a doubt. Despite being the smallest rooster on the farm by several inches, he struts like the barnyard belongs to him and crows (his little crow) about twice as often as the rest. We decided he needed an appropriate name so we call him Napoleon and his companion Josephine.

Being compact and lightweight, these two can easily make it over the fence in the chicken yard, so it is rare that they are not loose on the lawn. By afternoon, they have the relative safety of the company of the others released for foraging of their favorite bugs. In the mornings, though, they have only the “treesleepers” out with them.

Last week, I happened to look out the kitchen window just in time to see a hawk sweep down in a blur and try to scoop one of them up. I was surprised to see that happen under what I (and they) falsely thought was some cover- the dense shady canopy of the pecan trees.

The moment before I saw the blur, I noticed Napoleon running and then bulldozing over Josephine to get under the low branches of the “treesleeper’s” evergreen. That is what made me look more closely- unfortunately, I have come to learn that if the chickens are running, I usually need to go find and deal with a predator, (or at least a naughty kitten or child).

The hawk missed the first time and quickly swooped back for a second try. By that time, the banty pair had made it to the safety of the evergreen. I went outside to check on them and scolded Napoleon for his unchivalrous behavior in pushing past Josie, thinking only of his own hide. He seemed unconcerned at my rebuke.

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(At only a little over 6 inches tall, Napoleon appears just about life-size on your screen. 🙂 What strut that boy has!)

 

This episode just further highlights our need to get the chickens in tractors!

 

Warm and Toasty for the Winter October 1, 2006

Posted by Laura in Family, Farm.
6 comments

The original portion of our house was built in 1900- two rooms with a two-sided fireplace in the center.  The rest of the house was added on in stages up through the ‘50s, so each part has its unique aspects.  Several interior doorways apparently were exterior doors at one time.  The walls are thick and the doorjambs still have some of the hardware on them.  Joe discovered that most of the wiring was run in reverse from the way it is installed now.  That has made all electrical projects very challenging.  We also have come to find out that most of the insulation in the house is newspaper, so that would explain our poor energy efficiency.  In the winter especially, you can feel distinct drafts and the temperature in various rooms fluctuates by about 10 degrees.

Last year, our heat/air went out in September.  Rather than take a huge chunk of money out of savings, we decided to save each month toward a replacement unit in the spring.  The fireplace in the original rooms has propane run to it, faux logs, and a heat blower attached.  We used that to heat about 2/3 of the house.  The newer end of the house did not have a fireplace at all, so we used space heaters, many layers of clothes, and quilts to heat it.  This end of the house, with all its windows, rarely got above 64 degrees from December through March.  It made cuddling up to do our reading quite appealing!

My mother-in-law, Becky, had a wonderful old potbelly woodburning stove in the sunroom of her previous house.  The folks who bought her house had never used it and were willing to sell it, so we bought it.  Becky and J (Joe’s grandfather) brought it up in the spring.  We’ve been thinking all summer about how nice it will be to use that fallen oak for firewood in our new (old) stove this winter. 

This week, we found someone from church who does masonry work.  We explained that we would like to add this fireplace to the family room and that there was an exterior door in there that we never used.  It would be a good location for air flow to heat the room- could he brick that entrance and provide a place for the stovepipe to go outside?  He said he could and that he could start right away since his busiest season had just passed (when does THAT ever happen?).

Benjamin has been counting his blessings that he is a homeschooled kid. He’s been so excited about watching the guys work.  When it rained the day after they dropped off supplies, he was very disappointed that they wouldn’t begin that day.  The next day, he begged to do his schoolwork in the room where they were working so he could watch.  He didn’t get as much reading, spelling, or math done as I would have liked, but I knew he was still learning, so that was okay.

Here are some pictures of the project beginning to finish.

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(This is the door in our family room.  It opens directly into the yard and we have never used it.  The back door and wrap-around porch are only 12 feet away, so we really haven’t needed this.

Yes, the walls are very pink in this room.  We haven’t gotten around to doing much cosmetic work inside to put our stamp on the house yet.  Our focus has been on leaking faucet type projects and getting the farm ready for more animals.  We do plan to replace the Pepto-Bismol color sometime).

 

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(The same door, picture taken from the outside).

 

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(With every project we have embarked on, we have learned lots of new things.  That clay pipe that goes through there is called a “thimble.”  A metal stove pipe will run through it and then straight up to form the chimney).

 

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(Here is the potbellied stove that had once been in Becky’s house in Montgomery.  Before that, it had already had a long and useful life.  It’s probably nearly as old as our house.

It has been under a roof on the porch for several months, but has begun to rust in the humid air.  It needed sanding  and repainting with special “stoveblack” paint that can withstand high temperatures).

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(Joe took all the heavy pieces out to the yard and spent the afternoon sanding and repainting it.  Meanwhile, I played chaffeur to the children, ferrying them back and forth to a birthday party).

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(One last touch-up and it was ready to go to its new home).

 

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(That faux wooden floor piece beneath the stove is a heat-resistant guard to keep the stove from setting the carpet on fire- another great bargain find of Becky’s).

 

We still need to find someone to custom-make a pipe for us to connect the stove outside to the chimney pipe.  After that, we are just about set.  Joe worked for about an hour yesterday again (until he dulled his chainsaw blade) cutting up more of that massive fallen red oak that came down across our driveway and power lines last winter.  The stack of firewood is growing, but it seems to be slow-going at times.

Being out in the sticks, our power flickers off several times a week for no explicable reason.  In our part of the country (middle TN), our main winter problem is ice rather than snow.  When freezing rain begins to weigh down and break the power lines, it can be weeks sometimes before all the power can be restored.  In light of this, we are especially glad to not be dependent on electricity to heat the house.

As appliances need replacing, we would like to convert them to propane so we can cook and bathe without electrical power also.   In the meantime, we are delighted to have this checked off our list.  We look forward to spending many hours around the crackling fire this winter, hopefully cracking pecans and black walnuts from our many old trees.