Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Staying Put in the Cold

I woke up in the farmhouse this morning and the temperatures were in the forties. That's the temperature inside, folks. Outside was around two degrees. Whenever I think my home is cold I think about how it is usually fifty degrees warmer than the farm outside and suddenly wearing a sweater and socks in your living room doesn't seem like such a hardship.

Up here the week has been bitter. Not horrible, we haven't gotten below zero yet but it doesn't zoom high above the teens and tonight is supposed to drop well below aught. For someone who lives with a farm full of animals and heats with wood stoves, that means you don't stray farm from the home place. Even a few hours cut into the middle of the day isn't a good idea, because it doesn't take long for my fires to stop pumping heat. And if I leave mid-morning to have lunch or run errands and the house isn't above sixty degrees, it will drop back to the high forties by the time I return and it takes hours to get back to that level. So I stay home, and that's okay because home is my job. You couldn't ask someone to leave their office for five hours, could you?

But this is the kind of cold that stops you. Stops you from doing things most people don't think twice about doing. Things like visiting folks for a few hours, or running into town for feed and coffee at Stewarts. I am not doing those things this week. I went to my TKD class last night and paid for it with having to stay up till 2AM to warm up the house enough to feel comfortable with the pipes and slumber. When you wake up fitfully at 6AM to start all over again you suddenly realize you could have avoided that four-hour adventure and did pushups in the kitchen…

How cold is it where you are? Does it hamper your plans? And are a lot of people around you getting sick? So far I have been lucky, but I also am not around a lot of high-density people places. From the online news it sounds like a flu pandemic out there in the hinterlands?!

So here I am with my luddite heating system I adore. I'm staying put and I'm sticking to it, baby. If you want to see me in this weather you'll have to stop by for a bowl of chili or a cuppa. Admission for drop ins is one bale of second cut hay and a good sense of humor about frozen goose poo.


Blogger Lisa D. said...

The forecast for NYC is a whopping 19 degrees today, up from 11 this morning. The wind chill was around 0 when I woke up, so it was layers+layers+layers.

Stay warm, and stay safe.

January 23, 2013 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

I know that we are a strange bunch up here in Winnipeg. Most people wouldn't want to live in a land this cold. But I know exactly what you are talking about when the cold outside makes the inside so much cozier. Last night we had a hockey watching party and splurged on ordering pizza. How cold is it? Well in case you ever feel like it's chilly at 40 degrees in your house you can remember that today it's -26 here... Oh wait in Farenheight it's -13. With the windchill factor it feels like -33.

January 23, 2013 at 10:25 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Right now we are having a heat wave! It's 4 degrees outside, since Sunday it has been -10 plus windchill of about -25. We are in Minnesota. And yes the cold has kept us home

January 23, 2013 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger Jill said...

I'm home too. We have an oil furnace but it galls me to use it. The house is newish and pretty tight, and I close off rooms we don't need to heat. The wood stove is struggling to keep the temp at 60. The cold kept me from walking the dog; I may take him out for a brief walk in the early afternoon. His paws hurt, I know, but he wants SOME outside. I also have a boy home from school. Not flu, no fever, but a rockin' cough. Maybe it's time for more coffee (for me, not him).

January 23, 2013 at 10:34 AM  
Blogger mdoe37 said...

9 degrees at 11 a.m. near the west coast of Michigan. Pellet/corn stove burning away. I haven't raised it any. Its 71 in here rather than 76. :)

Mother had a nasty case of the flu--despite the shot. I'm only battling a bit of lung crud. The fabric cutter at the store just got over bronchitis (she said loudly) and the cashier rang me up immediately after blowing and wiping her VERY red nose. Thanks for the donation girls. I don't think it will settle into anything much.

January 23, 2013 at 10:56 AM  
Blogger Indio said...

I was cold just reading your post. I have a pellet stove which has a large hopper that can 50lbs of pellets. I fill it up at night, set the temp for 68 degrees and it can run all day on one bag of pellets which cost about $3 a bag with volume purchase. However, it doesn't work when the power is out, but I can connect to a back up battery for those occasions. I'm in the process of installing a natural gas generator which will be the primary power backup soon. In Winter, I try to heat the house with renewable heat as much as possible.

January 23, 2013 at 11:01 AM  
Blogger Kimberlie Ott said...

We have had an inversion (stuck in the grey cold) for several days, so it hangs around 27 with highs of 32 or 33, here in Oregon. You are blessed with wood heat, that is the toastiest kind, and I think a day of knitting by the stove, or writing, sounds wonderful. Enjoy, Spring will be here before you know it!

January 23, 2013 at 11:02 AM  
Blogger Elisabeth Black said...

This is off-topic, but do you know Julie Fowlis? I can't stop listening to her, and some of her songs have the Gaelic lyrics like this one

Stay warm!

January 23, 2013 at 11:03 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

I live in Wisconsin and heat our little house with one wood stove. It definitely changes the way you think about heat! It's a lot like adding another mouth to feed - you can't leave your dog home alone for the weekend, and you can't leave the wood stove home alone for a night out. With wind chill factored in, this week has hit -18F. It takes a lot of oak to fight back against that.

I have an electric space heater that can be used when absolutely needed, but It makes me think twice about my plans. It makes my electric bill a "travel tax", but I wouldn't trade that Vermont woodburner for all the furnaces in the Midwest.

January 23, 2013 at 11:13 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth from the Berkshires said...

The alarm clock will be set for 1:30am every day this week, looks like, to put more wood on the fire. And I go home from work at lunchtime to stoke up the stove and give the chickens their water in liquid form. It's definitely a project. But worth it. :)

January 23, 2013 at 11:18 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

Yep, you can't get too far away when you heat with wood. I remember years ago, just married, we had a wood stove. We'd go visit people or go out and have to say we had to get home to stoke the fire. And now doing it again. My husband just called and said he was on the way home. We're going up on the mountain to get some wood from a friend's place he's giving us. We're down to not very much right now. And it's COLD here in N. Ga. this week. In the 20's at night. Gotta keep that fire going! There's just nothing like wood heat to get a body warm. I hope you keep your going too.

January 23, 2013 at 11:23 AM  
Blogger Lorlee said...

Warm here in Texas -- but I set my thermostat to 60 for overnight -- If you haven't tried them, the answer is silk long underwear under another layer or two. The wool quilt my mom made is also a wonderful thing.

January 23, 2013 at 11:42 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

76 degrees, inside!?!?!?

I'd be sweating bullets!

58-62 is perfect for me!

January 23, 2013 at 11:51 AM  
Blogger Joleen said...

We're in an inversion in Salt Lake City too and haven't gotten much above single digits for a week here in the valley. Course, if you go up to the mountains, it was 47 degrees at one of the ski resorts yesterday! That's why they call it an inversion. Brrrrrrrrrrr

January 23, 2013 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger Bonnie said...

I am in Northern NY near the St. Lawrence River. It is minus -3 right now at noon, and the weather girl just said it will be minus -28 below zero here tonight. The coldest I remember is minus -36 below zero. That's a wee bit chilly. We have an out-door wood furnace and that keeps us warm.. plus it heats all our hot water too.

January 23, 2013 at 12:17 PM  
OpenID vintageandhandcraftedinnovascotia said...

I hear you on feeding the stove. Here we advise one another to force fluids so you habve to get up in the night to pee and will feed the stove too. Right now my rounds are - feed the stove, bring in more wood from the woodhouse, run all taps flat out for a moment or two - rinse and repeat. For those with pellet stoves - examine the way in which your pellets are made - if it is from biomass (definition: everything but the naked soil which is left from a clearcut) then perhaps not so renewable as one would think - some, but not many pellet companies use bark and rind from trees becoming dimensional lumber, but most use bio-mass.
cheers from Janet, shivering in a drafty old house in rural Nova Scotia

January 23, 2013 at 12:22 PM  
Blogger Teresa from South Dakota said...

Been in the single digits during the day if we make it over zero. Single and double digits below at night and up to -35 degree windchills. Will be in a windchill advisory again tonight. They say its the coldest we've been in a couple of years. I stay put but my husband works for a utility company so no matter the weather he is out working in it every day.(Bless those people who can and do work those outside jobs 12 months a year rain or shine because I sure couldn't do it!) Even with the cold can't imagine living anywhere else (NE South Dakota).

January 23, 2013 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

Here on an island on the downeast coast of Maine,it was 0 give or take for location with the wind blowing.Morning chores were quite invigorating but all animals survived the night. The downstairs part of my house was 66 when I got up but as soon as I added wood to the stove it started climbing. I have honeycomb shades on my windows and they block a lot of cold air. I think a cold snap is always a good thing because we then appreciate anything above teens.

January 23, 2013 at 12:33 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

I'm in NW Georgia, and it's not that bad here. I say that with a bit of humor because people think it's really cold here. It's been in the forties for about a week and half, but it's supposed to be back up in the sixties next Tuesday. I wish it was colder, like a winter is supposed to be, but that's just not Georgia anymore. I also want a big snow. Most people cringe when I say that because of the snow-panic that occurs here. I haven't worn a jacket yet this year. I love these temperatures in the forties. If it gets colder, I will have to wear one, though. I'm not accustomed.;) The flu is bad here as well. Luckily, the partner and I haven't contracted it. We are downing honey and zinc, though. Keep warm up there! Staying in sounds like a great idea.

January 23, 2013 at 12:41 PM  
Blogger Moose Hollow Farm said...

The cold in the house woke me up at 4:30 this morning. I put on the coffee (to have a cuppa) and stoked the woodstove. It took quite a while to get the house to a comfortable level but it's much better now. The temperature outside was 1/2 degree above zero and it dropped to -2 below before the sun popped up. My husband and/or I stay close to home in this weather for the same reasons that you do. Today I went out and visited my father in the nursing home and then did our grocery shopping ~ my husband stayed home. Tomorrow, he will go to his dentist appointment and I will keep the home fires burning. No big deal ~ we'd rather be home anyway.
When I picked up my grandsons at the bus stop yesterday they gladly got into the car (usually they want to run the 2/10 of a mile up the driveway to our log cabin. As my 8 year old grandson put it "I'm taking a ride with you today, Mamie, it's too freakin' cold outside". That says it all!!!!!

January 23, 2013 at 12:53 PM  
Blogger Jess said...

I'm in Alberta, gets very cold here. We do supplement heat with our wood stove but we still have our furnace on for back up. It's -20 C (-4 F), which is a normal temperature for here. Cold is in the -30's or -40.

January 23, 2013 at 1:10 PM  
Blogger Wildjo said...

Cheers from a fellow luddite heater. Living on the edge of Appalachia, our temps are similar. My fingertips were complaining after just a few minutes of chicken/coop chores.

We have four kids (aka "little petri dishes"), so the flu hit us early and hard. But that was then and this is now, and ain't "now" grand?!

January 23, 2013 at 1:50 PM  
Blogger Katou said...

It was -40°C when I got up this morning here, in North Western Québec. We have the title of the coldest place in Québec today!!!

In my old house, it is only 14°C so I'm wearing 3 layers of clothes and still shivering.

When the cat asked for the door and I opened it for her, she backed up but finally went outside, even in that cold (-20°C) this afternoon. As I'm going out to get some wood, she won't be long outside because she will follow me in when I'm finish.

I have an electric blanket on my bed that I just couldn't do without at this time of the year.

They announced those temperatures for all week here and it has been many years since we've had such a cold spell.

It's the time to snuggle in and catch up on our reading!

January 23, 2013 at 2:12 PM  
Blogger Pit Stop Farm said...

It’s been hovering between 7-12 degrees, but of course the wind makes it worse. I refuse to use the oil furnace, so our wood stove gets a workout in this weather. Like others, I also force myself to drink a lot of water prior to bed, then I get up every 2-3 hours to keep the fire going strong. Even with this though, the house has been staying around 62 degrees. It’s just too much cold air to combat. But, when your outside hauling water and feed to the animals, stacking firewood, and other misc chores, coming inside to 60 degrees feels like a summer day.

January 23, 2013 at 2:26 PM  
Blogger Karen Talamantez said...

How much does one bale of hay cost?

January 23, 2013 at 2:51 PM  
Blogger mdoe37 said...

Uh yup....76. Fortunately, I insulated my attic really well or unfortunately! My stove does not have a thermostat, just a 1-10 dial. 30 degree weather and the dial at 1.25 ends up at 75-76 degrees. the stove is in the basement and if piped directly into my heating ducts 24/7. Its almost on #2 right now and I'm holding at 72 upstairs in this cold and wind.

I can live with the heat during the day, but at night -- at my advanced age having my own personal summers -- it can be a challenge. Turn down the blower a bit and of course the nights cool off too.

All in all its still better (and much warmer) than the 1000 gallons of propane I don't burn!!

January 23, 2013 at 3:13 PM  
Blogger Robin Follette said...

-2* is my high today, wind chill is currently -22*. I moved the elderly big black dog's bed to a spot in front of the wood stove and covered him with a blanket. Ten minutes outside this morning was too long, he got chilled.

I helped a neighbor with a newborn Nigerian Dwarf kid this morning while it was -11*/-25*. Welcome to the world, here's a sweater. She's very cute in her sweater. She's hardy, well fed and staying warm with her mother and a small heater. Tough day to be born!

January 23, 2013 at 3:31 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

hay around here is $3 - $5.50 a bale.

January 23, 2013 at 3:41 PM  
Blogger Fernleaf said...

It's not too cold here now, we've had two weeks of temps in the mid-20s, which is pretty chilly for our coastal area. Just today it warmed back up to 40 and heavy rains, it feels downright balmy out there!

The pouring rain certainly makes for the feeling of wanting to stay home and cuddle up with a movie and a knitting project.

January 23, 2013 at 4:54 PM  
OpenID alewyfe said...

Brr. We finally got some winter here in Chicago this week... it's warmed up to 18 today, with 0 degree windchill (high is above 20 though, which after single digits seems balmy!). It was a cold bike ride to work yesterday, but with the right layers and my super-boots, only my eyes and nose were actually exposed... I was sweating by the time I got there! I can't wait to fire up our woodstove again... we finally lit the furnace, and it's staying above 50 inside our drafty old city cabin (uninsulated brick) but that chill is hard to shake without a fire to cozy up to. Ironically, our weatherization progress is what is keeping us from using the stove- there are currently two stacks of 4'x8' inch and a half thick (highly flammable) foam board stacked the only place they'd fit- in the center of the room about 6" from the woodstove. So, when they're in place (or enough of them that we can move the rest of the stack upstairs where they're going to go) we'll be able to crank the wood heat again,and it will actually stay warm(er) when the fire dies down as we'll have gone from about r-5 (no insulation) with open eaves and single-pane windows with gaps to r-50, sealed eaves (to the room inside- the roof will still be ventilated- when we got the place there were vines growing INSIDE the second floor... from the ground outside)... and new or newer nice double-pane windows. Yay! The fella got that flu a couple weeks ago and was SO sick- he took his temp when he started feeling BETTER and it was 101. He was shivering inside two sleeping bags for about two days. I got a touch of it, but took lots of vitamins and drank lots of juice and water when he got it, so I got only a bad head cold and fatigue out of it. Stay well, everyone!

January 23, 2013 at 5:18 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hi Jenna.
SO-it was -6 when I went out to do chores this morning with a wind chill of -20. Right now, it is 0 with a wind chill of -18. I try to do as many chores as I can before dark-bring in firewood, walk the dog, put the fowl away, clean up manure, etc. as the temp goes down further still when darkness falls. I have multiple water containers for the fowl that get rotated in to sit next to the wood stove to defrost when frozen and the horses each have a heated bucket.

Something doesn't sound quite right about your wood stove and/or its setup. We've been heating with wood for years and it doesn't take quite as long for the heat to come up-unless the stove has gone out. You should be able to fill the stove with wood and have the confidence that it will heat for hours to come...

Oh-and before I forget. Our local public radio station said it was 39F in ANTARCTICA this morning. That means it was FORTY-FIVE degrees colder in my front yard than the South Pole!!!

That is just wrong on so many levels...
Lisa in Maine

January 23, 2013 at 6:45 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

Pushing 80 here today. It's sort of nice but sort of not.

January 23, 2013 at 8:08 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

Pushing 80 here today. It's sort of nice but sort of not.

January 23, 2013 at 8:09 PM  
Blogger deodar said...

East central Wisconsin and we're on the way up, it was 14 here this afternoon with light snow and felt balmy. Tues. the high was +1 with windchills in the minus teens and twenties. Spent a good part of Mon. in the goat pen with the vet and a Nigerian dwarf who won't walk. Think he may have hurt himself one of our icy mornings, he's not looking good. It was barely above zero with windchills in the minus 20's. Amos goat is burrowed in straw and wrapped in a quilt, fingers crossed he gets better. I am SO done with winter! Small squares of grassy horse hay are $6 & $7 a bale here.
PS Our weather's on its way to you, bundle up.

January 23, 2013 at 8:36 PM  
Blogger deodar said...

East central Wisconsin and we're on the way up, it was 14 here this afternoon with light snow and felt balmy. Tues. the high was +1 with windchills in the minus teens and twenties. Spent a good part of Mon. in the goat pen with the vet and a Nigerian dwarf who won't walk. Think he may have hurt himself one of our icy mornings, he's not looking good. It was barely above zero with windchills in the minus 20's. Amos goat is burrowed in straw and wrapped in a quilt, fingers crossed he gets better. I am SO done with winter! Small squares of grassy horse hay are $6 & $7 a bale here.
PS Our weather's on its way to you, bundle up.

January 23, 2013 at 8:37 PM  
Blogger Gelfling said...

It's in the low teens here in PA, and my ground level bathroom pipes froze while I was at work today :( It's abot 50 degrees in the house right now (we heat with wood as well) and I'm bundled up with my cats to keep cozy!

I work in a very, very busy emergency department, and it has been a terrible flu season so far. I got vaccinated, and have been keeping healthy so far (knock on wood) with the exception of a fleeting 24-hour stomach virus that took me down a couple weeks ago. But many in my area have not been so lucky, including coworkers.

January 23, 2013 at 9:58 PM  
Blogger Tiffrz-N-Kidz said...

It's a balmy 54 outside this morning and should reach the high 60's this afternoon. We'll get another cold snap this weekend, but our lows hover in the high 30's usually.

Here in TX, our incapacitating time is in the summer, when we have to do chores at midnight because that's when it finally drops below 100. The rest of the country is out working their gardens and riding their horses, and we just hunker down under a shade tree with a glass of iced tea waiting for the ball of fire to go over the horizon. :-)

Stay warm. I remember those NY winters fondly. They are beautiful on so many levels.

January 24, 2013 at 8:00 AM  
Blogger Anna said...

We've had a few days lately where it doesn't get above zero. I don't have a woodstove to tend but I am very thankful for the heat I have in our apartment. I have decided, though, that if there is ever a time to hibernate and not leave the house whether you are tending to fires, bread in the oven, work, or just taking care of yourself, this is it. I think of the busy summer days and all of the work of canning and freezing food and now my cupboards are mostly full and I can enjoy the way winter keeps me cozy at home.

January 24, 2013 at 10:14 AM  
Blogger Shannon B. said...

I can't remember what your stove set up looks like or if it's changed(I'm pretty sure I saw a pic at some point) so please take this with a grain of salt.

Regular wood-stoves just don't hold heat. Have you considered building a surround for it out of bricks or cob? The extra mass takes a bit longer to heat up at first but it holds the heat and releases it slower so you can wake up at 6am instead of 2am.

There's a bunch of info here: and a quick pic from Google of what this could look like for you here:

Hope this helps. :)

February 5, 2013 at 4:52 PM  

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