Sunday, November 28, 2010

kings and chandeliers

King Winthrop rules his kingdom with a steady wing. He doesn't care if it's 18 degrees outside (sunlight brought some warmth to the mountain!) or 80. He's the same kind, fat, giant boy. He's the oldest chicken on the farm now, from the very first batch of chicks I raised that first spring in the cabin. He's never once so much as lifted a claw to me, and I can scoop him up in my arms like a kitten. He never takes a bite of anything till he shouts to his hens, and only after every hen has eaten, does he take a bite of any scrap from the kitchen pail. He's such a fine bird. Brahma roosters are just too big to be surly.

I spent the morning chopping and stacking wood. I certainly am keeping warm. With the wood stove going the kitchen stays at 60 degrees. If I stay busy in there, baking and fussing and cleaning, the oven, my body heat, and the activity make it as comfortable as any kitchen. I do want to invest in a pellet stove for next winter. I hear they are easier to install than wood stoves, and that they are pretty much the same as washing machines when it comes to set up. You can vent them right out the side of your house. Pellets cost around 200 bucks a ton, but that's less than a hundred gallons of heating oil! I try to always keep my winter heating bill under 800 dollars. It's not always possible, but I think with two good stoves I could do it, easy.

Today I might meet a friend for coffee, and start decorating the farmhouse for the holidays. Nothing fancy, but I think a little cheer is needed. My mother would like to know the decorations she sent up are being put to good use. She always made our home in Palmerton into a Holiday Mansion of sorts, she even got on a ladder and tied bows to every section of light on the chandelier. That chandelier in the foyer is a houseware she adores. She she took as a going-away present when she left the Hess's Department Store's Advertising office in the late seventies. I love that light. It reminds me of ice storms, another love of my mother's. I really miss her this time of year.

26 Comments:

Blogger Cindy said...

If you want to be more independent, get a woodstove instead of a pellet stove. Where you live, cord wood will always be available but pellets are manufactured, trucked, etc. and that will affect price and scarcity. Also, you need electricity to run a pellet stove--a power outage means no heat! Just my 2 cents.

November 28, 2010 at 9:27 AM  
Blogger twistie said...

We burned two ton of bio bricks in Maine from mid October to the end of January as our primary heat source on year, and we don't keep our house very warm, like 64-65 degrees in the winter. (layers and sweaters) They worked great and burned clean. But I agree with Cindy, cord wood is more readily available in our area and there is no need for electricity. Key to staying warm with a pellet stove or furnace in a power outage. Besides, there is nothing like the heat from wood!

November 28, 2010 at 9:53 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

good points. I just worry about the expense of running another chimney...

November 28, 2010 at 10:03 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

I'm sorry about your furnace, Jenna. I just got a pellet stove, although I did think about a second woodstove so I could burn cordwood. But I worried about the expense of a second chimney, and I wanted to get that 30% tax credit before it expired. Also, I work an hour from home and often work late into the night, so I need to be able to fill the hopper with enough pellets to last a long time. I got a Harman with an extra-large hopper so I don't have to fill it every day. It took the guys from the stove store about two hours to install it.

November 28, 2010 at 10:13 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

That was another reason, being gone 10 hours a day to work in the office, it would be great. But I will price both. I do like the idea of a house warm even without power.

Does my Artesian well need electricity to run?

November 28, 2010 at 10:23 AM  
Blogger Moose Nugget said...

Not sure about your area, but come winter time in interior alaska, folks have trouble getting pellets. If you get a pellet stove, make sure you get enough pellets early in the season to last you all winter.

Also, the pellet stove requires electricity. If you lose power, it won't work.

In our cabin, we mainly heat with the wood stove (firewood is abundant and free for the taking with a permit- just have to cut it down yourself!)
we also use a Toyo Stove for supplemental heat. Stl uses fuel oil, but it's a minimal amount. Even With our sixty below zero weather last year, I only had to purchase 25 gallons of fuel to top off our tank this winter!
Granted- we use that as back up- it gets set on 65 to keep pipes from freezing when we have to go to town (2 hours away), and occassionally we set it on 68, so no one has to get up in the middle of the night to feed the woodstove.
(Toyo is a brand- you might also google "monitor stove").

Your well- is probably on an electric pump. There are some systems that don't use electric, but then you'd probably be pumping your water by hand to get it to run in the house.
Does your inspection paperwork say anything about it?
Check your fuse box too- there might be something labelled "well".
Our well pump is efficient, but costs us in electric when we were watering gardens and animals. Rain and snow collection is on next year's agenda.
Nit sure if it's a concern in your area- we have heat tape and a heat light in our well house to keep our pump from freezing. Of course, the weather is colder than 20 below here for a good 4 or 5 months.

November 28, 2010 at 10:41 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

I went a few weeks ago to look at fireplace inserts for wood. They are very expensive. And of course the one I wanted was about $3500. But there is a tax incentive on most of them. Up to 30% I think. Then they had some inserts on sale for about $1200. It is expensive to burn wood. We have gas logs but I cannot afford to buy the propane right now. So we went to Oreck and bought the little radiant heater. I LOVE that heater. Our first floor is 1200 SF and it keeps it warm in here. We have a heat pump and they suck! So with this little heater the heat pump hardly comes on. I hope you get that furnace fixed soon, Jenna. And that you can do it yourself. Who needs an extra bill right now! And my well has an electric pump.

November 28, 2010 at 11:16 AM  
Blogger Sandy said...

I have been reading for a while, but first comment, If you get a pellet stove I recommend you spend a little extra and get one that burns both corn and wood pellets. We burn both depending on what is less expensive. We get the corn from a local farmer who sells to us for the same price he sells to the grain equity. In your area you should have no trouble finding some one to buy from. We used to use up to 200 gallons of oil a month to heat our over 200 year old farm house, and now fill the tank once for back up when it gets really cold. I really look forward to reading your blog each day.

November 28, 2010 at 11:20 AM  
Blogger Cindy said...

All this talk about heating issues sure makes me glad I live in Florida!

My history with roosters is a bloody one, but Winthrop has convinced me that all roosters are not evil.

Jenna, you are very fortunate to have a mother who gave you such wonderful Christmas memories. Honor her by keeping the tradition alive. Incorporate those things from childhood that you loved and bring them into your own home, then put your own twist on things with unique thrift store finds.

November 28, 2010 at 12:16 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Hi Jenna- I feel I have to weigh in on the heat issue. Pellet stoves do indeed need electricity to run. So with you being out in the country, I don't think they're a good choice for you.

The more centrally located a wood stove is in your house, the more efficiently it can heat your house. The best wood burner for heating long term on a single load of wood is a masonry heater, or Russian stove- the Germans call them Kachelofens, but they are expensive already, and really expensive to retrofit into an already built house. That said, you can load and fire them up in the morning, leave for work, and come home and your house is still warm.

If your house has a fireplace, you might think about a fireplace insert, but decide on one that sticks out into the room so that you get more heat from it.

All options are expensive, but if you can't afford to take advantage of the tax break which ends this December 31 and you can stick it out this winter, think about buying and getting your stove installed next summer. A lot of stove dealers are dying for business then because most people don't think about it, and the dealers have some good deals. That's a good time to order your firewood, too.

Good luck!

November 28, 2010 at 1:19 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

I notice that you said that you have an artesian well...

When I lived in Olympia WA our house had an artesian well. The water itself did not need to be pumped (artesian means that it comes out of the ground by itself), but there was a pump to get the water into the pressure tank to get water through the pipes to the house.

In a power failure you should be able to get water from wherever the overflow from your pump-house is. Of course, it is also possible that you have a gravity fed system with no pump or pressure tank, in which case life is even simpler. Is there someone you can ask about what kind of water system is actually in place on your farm?

November 28, 2010 at 2:24 PM  
Blogger Grant Wagner said...

I say avoid buying a second wood stove (especially a pellet, to many people pointed out the benifits of a cordwood stove), and instead get your home super insulated. Spray in foam can be a bit expensive initially, but will seal up your home tighter than a drum, and will keep you super toasty too. Resale store blankets turned into curtians over the windows will make a great difference too.

November 28, 2010 at 2:49 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

You can always look into soapstone wood stoves. They are suppose to be efficient in heating. Plus, 1 load of wood can last all day. I know one company name is Heathstone, they are from Vermont.

If your is chimney big enough in diameter, you should be okay with out a second chimney.

November 28, 2010 at 3:31 PM  
Blogger Rita said...

I have heard that pellet stoves stink, but no one here has mentioned that. Hmmm.

The more heat sources, the better, as back-up. I once had a farm house with a wood stove, a propane heater and an electric heater. I agree with the one who said spend money on insulation first. I even made a hillbilly storm door out of bubble wrap yesterday that makes a huge difference. And I hang blankets on the windows on the north.

My infrared electric heater is cheap to use, and safe. Look into that to save on wood. Wood heat is not really cheap when you work full time.
Rita in Arkansas

November 28, 2010 at 3:47 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

We burn wood year round (gasifer) and have oil and solar for back up systems. We also have a pellet stove which we have had for 8 years. We've never not been able to get pellets. I also have hard time with the idea of burning food (corn) for heat.

We have a home generator with a gen tran box that services the circuits that we would need the most if the power goes out. Heat, freezer, pump, frig, and few lights.

I installed our pellet stove myself, was very simple to do. The number of linear feet of stove pipe you need will determine whether you need 3" or 4" pipe.

If your well is below your house you will most likely have a pump. If the well is above the house, it's probably gravity fed.

My opinion - get the pellet stove, right now if the power goes out your oil burner won't work either.

November 28, 2010 at 3:50 PM  
Blogger Tanja said...

I'll echo Andy - we installed a soapstone (Tulikivi) stove last year and it's been fabulous so far - two armfuls of wood take the temp up as long as it's still warm (and it is all day while we're gone), and suffice of an evening. Installation is a construction project, and they're expensive, but we hardly ever have any smoke coming out of the chimney, and the ash pan (about the size of a loaf of bread) takes a week to fill up. And I believe they qualify for the tax credit as well. I will never be without one again (ours even has a cookstove!)

November 28, 2010 at 4:41 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Yup - the pellet stove needs electricity to run. The well pump would, too. I bought a generator and had an electrician install wiring and a box so that if the power goes out for a long time, I can power the well, stove and fridge. But it would have to go out for more than a day before I would bother firing it up. I'm hoping I won't ever have to do that. Pellet stoves do smell for a day or two when first installed because the paint heats up. I have also been told it is best to avoid burning corn pellets if you can because they can cause a great deal of creosote to build up in the pipes. They're not made from food-grade corn, by the way. You can install a pellet stove yourself, although you may have to get a building permit from your town. If you do decide to do it, make sure you do it before Dec. 31 and get the paperwork you will need to claim the tax credit (it isn't all that often that the federal government is going to help you buy stuff for your house). I thought about an outdoor wood boiler, too, but I have friends who have outdoor boilers, and say they burn through cord wood very fast. Also, New York State is working on some new regulations to phase out some older models and regulate newer ones and I didn't want to get caught up in that process.

November 28, 2010 at 4:42 PM  
Blogger Tanja said...

Another thought, Jenna. What about running an aluminum chimney through a second thimble? From what I understand, they're way cheaper than masonry, and you can always add cladding later (it's what we have).

November 28, 2010 at 5:36 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Tanja, that is what I have in the current wood stove. It's a big pipe that goes up through the mud room/laundry room and into the atic. It's what I would do if I installed a second woodstove.

I also heard there were wood/oil combo stoves you could buy to replace your current furnace? They heat you current piping/steam structure with wood and when the fire goes out switch to oil. So long as you are stoking it you get wood heat, but you can still leave for a few days and let the oil take over.

I'd like to get off the oil though, eventually just use wood or pellets. So damn expensive, and petro-fuel doesn't really scream "jenna"

November 28, 2010 at 6:08 PM  
Blogger finsandfeathers said...

Maybe start with an energy analysis of your house. There are quite a few programs out there with rebates from your utility companies. A more efficient house uses less fuel, of any source. Your first investment should ALWAYS be in air sealing your house; windows, doors, can lights, etc. Then check out the insulation amounts. It sounds like your wood stove is doing a fine job. But I agree you need a conventional back up. We use propane.

November 28, 2010 at 8:48 PM  
Blogger Jenny Glen said...

I used to have a speckled Brahma too. I read they were the "teddy bears" of roosters. Ours was always so passive except when I put a tom turkey in the same pen as him and his hens. Then he got quite agitated and I had to separate the two boys who were chest bumping and fixin' to fight. Once Gibson is trained, you should see if he'll work your poultry. Some do and some don't. The do's are helpful to have around if you have your chickens free running and need to pen them up. I have 2 boys that will move birds and it's a nice step saver.

November 28, 2010 at 9:04 PM  
Blogger seagoddess said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 29, 2010 at 8:14 AM  
Blogger Pam said...

We have a Harman P43 pellet stove and it was the best thing we did. We really like it. (They also have a coal stoker/pellet stove.) We have our house wired to use a gas generator when the electric goes. It runs the well pump, pellet stove, furnace or/and whatever else we want running at the time. We keep kerosene lanterns and candles always ready. When we hear a storm is coming we fill our bathtub with water so we can flush the toliet. Unless you have an old handpump outside how will you water the animals if the electric goes? Have a creek nearby? We bought a generator at Lowes. Don't use it much other than those bad days in winter, but its there when needed. Also watch for those mantle keorsene lamps by Aladdin. They throw light and heat. And sometime consider a gas stove in the kitchen. We switched years ago. Now when the electric goes the stove with the oven door open heats the kitchen, I can still cook and we congregate there. Work a winter weather plan now Jenna. I'd get in a store of bottled water, too. Remember -- when the electric goes there's no water, no toliet, no cooking, no heat, etc. Plan ahead ...

November 29, 2010 at 12:18 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

How about a corn stove?

November 30, 2010 at 2:30 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Harbor Freight sells small 2 stroke generators for $90.00. I have one and use it to run power tools, but it would run the blower on a furnace or a small pump. It will also power a string of leds for lights.

Gasoline is not the greatest or safest fuel but in a pinch .....

November 30, 2010 at 2:36 PM  
Blogger tinman said...

Pellets cost more than wood in the long run it is cleaner than wood but what do you do with all the bags. The cost of a pellet stove you can build your own chimney out of brick not that hard just time . End note wood means time outside getting fresh air

December 6, 2010 at 6:28 PM  

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