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Warm and Toasty for the Winter October 1, 2006

Posted by Laura in Family, Farm.

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.


(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).



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



(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).



(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).


(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).


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



(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.



1. jipmeister - October 2, 2006

I always liked Becky’s old house – especially that back room and I LOVED that stove! I have so glad ya’ll got that!!!! It’s gorgeous!!!!!

2. Grams - October 2, 2006

You will be READY for winter!
I like the stove!

3. Uncle Chris - October 3, 2006

That will add so much character to the house. I’ll have to come over and watch some football and stoke the fire all night. Maybe Co could sit in my lap.

4. The first fire of fall « The Farm Chronicles of Blessed Acres - October 11, 2006

[…] 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. […]

5. The first fire of fall « The Farm Chronicles of Blessed Acres - October 11, 2006

[…] 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. […]

6. The first fire of fall « The Farm Chronicles of Blessed Acres - October 11, 2006

[…] 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. […]

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