Monday, November 29, 2010

A Blessed Year

From our table to yours, I hope you and your family had a very Blessed Thanksgiving, and spent it with the ones you love.

from left to right at our table, my Uncle Paul, his sister my Aunt Ida, my mother, my oldest son Steven at the head of the table, my son David, and my daughter Amanda.
(you can click on the image to see it larger - it is not-so-well-done merger of two photos, since my camera could not take in the whole thing at once)


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wood Heat This Year

Well, we've put in a change this year.

We went from this last year:

To this:

(yeah, I know - two different cats too. That's not the point of this post, though.
Both cats are still alive and well)

There are pros and cons to the switch. I think the pros outweigh, though.

We loved our Franklin stove last year -- wow, the amount of wood it could hold at once, how grand it looked, how well it heated our home.

But the newer, smaller stove has many pluses. For one, it is much more airtight. We had trouble venting the Franklin stove last year because we were trying to manipulate its 10-inch diameter flue to work with our 4-inch diameter chimney. That was just too big of a reduction to allow air flow properly, and we often ended up getting smoke in the house.

Also, on the Franklin, I always had to open the doors to see if more wood was needed yet. I love the window in the newer stove. It is like watching a fireplace :) Plus it lets me know how far down everything is burning, without having to open the door. It does have a smaller chamber (takes smaller pieces of wood, and less wood at a time); but seems to burn somewhat slower as well, and radiates the heat very well.

Just like last year's stove, we got a great deal on this unit by purchasing it used from an individual off a Craig's List posting. We've found some great deals that way. It was pretty dirty and beat up when we got it, but Steven put lots of elbow grease into cleaning it up, replacing the inside firebrick, fixing all the parts, and polishing it to look almost like new. (The firebrick, too, are a big plus -- although it takes quite a bit of burning to get them all heated up and going, they stay hot/warm for a very long time, allowing us more leeway in getting the stove reloaded).

So far, so good. I'm very happy with it. We haven't had a true trial, though, until we get to the really bitter cold days, and see if it can keep up with our drafty old house.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Happy Birthday to Steven!

Today my oldest child turns a quarter-century old! (Which is amazing, of course, because I haven't aged one bit!) *smile* Happy 25th Birthday to my son, Steven. Praise God for you, and for your choice of continuing the legacy of our homestead.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Home Remodeling/Repair

Steven has been on a kind of home improvement kick lately (not that I'm complaining!) trying to get a whole lot of pretty big projects done all at once before winter. It's exhausting to me (on those days when I'm home to help) and lumber is expensive -- but I know all of this is worth it to try to maintain the 'infrastructure' of our place, as he says.

He has worked off and on for several weeks getting boards replaced on the garage, then sealing holes with insulating foam, fixing windows, prime coat painting and then top coat painting the whole thing. Our garage looks really spiffy and like new now.

Then he tackled the rotting-out lower house siding on the back side of the house - especially that large hole created by a opposum trying to use our crawl space as its living quarters. This is a lot of work -- very old wood siding (we want to keep from having to replace any more than necessary) and boxing boards underneath that need replaced or repaired. We got one section of it done last week, two more larger sections to go. Wood lap siding (as used to be used on all old farmhouses) is very hard to get now -- we only found one lumber yard that had a random selection of it at a very high price. But we got enough to finish that section. He also got all of that primed and painted to keep it from rotting out again so easily.

Well, I took a four day weekend, and one of the big projects this time was a new cave (outside cellar) door. I won't even put up "before" photos because it looked so horrible and rotted out, full of holes. Our house water pump is down in the old "cave" so we need to keep it warm in winter. To do that you have to have a decent door, which we haven't for several years.

First, we started with building up a new frame over the concrete for the new door to rest upon, as the old sill was pretty shot. Blessedly, these treated 2x4 boards were free recycle from some dear friends who replaced their privacy fencing and gave us all the old structural boards.

Then used more 2x4 to create the framing for the door itself. We overlaid that with 1x8 cedar planks. Lots of screws involved in this process.

(I love those pipe clamps - come in very handy! We used my old flatbed trailer as a work table)

(cutting off the excess length of 1x8's. Actually did this with a regular old manual hand saw - it was easiest. But boy, does that make your arm tired!)

Then we fastened the new (and heavy!) door onto the cellar opening frame, using four exterior grade hinges. Installed a new handle, and it looks great! Now, perhaps a coat of polyurethane or something to help it weather even better.

Steven today put in a post to use as a door stop/brace when we have it open, because it is a bit heavy for myself and my mom to muscle around too much.

Snug and secure for winter.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What's New at Our Farm!

Well! Much to write about -- lots of new things to share!

Recently Steven bought his first pair of turkeys and geese. The beautiful Bourbon Red turkeys will be his breeding pair to hopefully rear some baby turkeys next spring! I have to admit, these birds are really gorgeous! However, it was hard to get a decent photograph of them together. Mr. Tom sure likes to strut around and show off.

The pair of geese (which we HOPE are a male and female, we aren't sure) seem to be mild-mannered, and not noisy and annoying as I feared they would be. They are also beautiful birds.

I was surprised to find that even as large and heavy as they are, they still can do a low fly quite a distance! (much like pheasant do) They wandered out to the goat corral one day, and I closed the gate, thinking they would graze there for awhile, but they didn't like being locked away from the house, and flew quite easily across the corral and into the backyard.

Steven's plan is to put the geese, and perhaps the turkeys, out in the orchard next spring, to help keep the grass and insects there under control. The geese won't hurt the young trees, as goats or other grazers would.

Neither pair of birds seem really used to free range yet. Perhaps they had always been kept locked up. For the first couple of days, all they did was follow us around as we worked outside. We do pen them up at night, for their own safety.

Did I mention that a couple weeks ago Steven also finally got a new buck for his goat herd? Hopefully this will mean a nice crop of spring kids.