Saturday, October 13, 2012

goats and social butterflies

It's 24 degrees outside but inside the farmhouse is a comfortable 62. Not bad for just one woodstove lit an hour ago. I love that this place is heated with wood, and this year I was able to acquire all of my heating wood through donated time and help from friends, barter, and some old fashioned horsepower. This morning, around 5:15AM I went out with Gibson in the lantern light to chop some kindling for this morning's blaze. He chased shadows while I split some seasoned elm. I used the splitting axe and then the hatchet to make the slivers that I start my fires with. So far I haven't used a single "cheater" fire starter compound or ez-light log. I'm proud of that little accomplishment, and the money I save using a little more elbow grease. I can now start a fire on a rainy day in a few moments with just a match. And if that makes me sound like a purist, don't worry. I still start my bonfires with soggy wood and a little liquid boyscout.* Helen Nearing, I am not.

I'm making a pot of oatmeal on the stove, heating up some yerba mate, and thinking about my goats. The girls have been gone a while now and their loud and proud presence has been missed. Funny how just one piece of the puzzle missing leaves it so clearly incomplete? Goats belong on this farm, and their creamy milk could not be more missed. Oh, the homemade soap, and the milkshakes, and the fresh chevre and coffee turned creamy tan....

Bonita and Francis return tomorrow, delivered safely home from Common Sense Farm. Othniel and Yesheva will be coming along, both to bring my two fine does but also to say goodbye for a while. They are leaving for North Carolina for leadership training in their church and won't be back until late January. It's a bit sad for me, as I have always had these two farmers just a few miles away to help over the years. They taught me so much in basic livestock care, of which just a small portion I have paid forward so far. I'll miss them, even if it is just a few weeks. People always warned me having a farm would make me less social, keep me away from people. It has kept me away from some people, sure. But it has also drawn so many new friends and experiences to me it rivals my four years at college, easily so. It's how I met Yesh and Oth, and how you met me. Farming has been my social butterfly, I just needed to open up and let it. The people who email, come to workshops, read this blog, shake my hand... There were more people on my college campus, but then broth is really strong stuff around here. And the folks around the dinner table are lovin' every bite...

*lighter fluid


Anonymous Steve Harlow said...

I always do a little "recycling" when I start a fire. We shred old bills, and such, and I then use these shreddings as the fire base that I put my kindling on top of. Without fail, I can have a great blaze going in just minutes, as well as getting rid of the excess paperwork.

October 13, 2012 at 8:48 AM  
Anonymous TashaMarie said...

As far as "cheating" to start fires go, we've started using home-made "fire starters" on the ridiculously busy mornings. I make them out of wax (melted on tpo of the wood stove) and then poured into egg cartons that I've already packed with shavings. It's a really awesome tool. It only takes one little piece to start the fire, so for each carton you end up with twelve of them.

~ TashaMarie

October 13, 2012 at 9:03 AM  
Blogger Glyndalyn said...

Whoa! 24 degrees! We are having a warm up. Hoping to mow for the last time.

We have had two small fires in the wood stove and are using elm for the first time. Our neighbor had two giant and ancient trees come down and gave us the wood. We spent about 28 hrs. in June cutting, splitting and stacking. Enough to run the house and shop stoves about 2 years. We use a chain saw and wood splitter for that amount but also split some by hand. Elm is extremely hard to hand split. But it produces some BTU's.

Think we are up for a real winter this year.

The Phoney Farm in a tiny hamlet, Middle TN.

October 13, 2012 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth from the Berkshires said...

I love starting fires with bills and junk mail! Especially bills. I decided that rather than using electricity to shred the darn things, put them to work for us instead, giving energy rather than taking it. :)

October 13, 2012 at 10:21 AM  
Anonymous Walter said...

Like TashaMarie, we use old egg cartons and wax, but we use dryer lint instead of shavings. Is that cheating? Who cares. Remember the old saw, "If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'. If you get caught, you weren't tryin' hard enough."

October 13, 2012 at 11:13 AM  
Blogger Melina said...

We have four homes on our entire road now. People said we would be lonely if we moved put to the country. Yet here we are less then a week of living here and we've had dinner with eight other farmers.

October 13, 2012 at 2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Egg cartons even without shavings or wax work really, really well.

October 13, 2012 at 3:04 PM  
Blogger kaelak said...

@Elizabeth - what a great way to look at it! Especially the electricity bills (if you have them). Btw, I meant to say thank you do much for the herb talk at Antlerstock - I really enjoyed and it and I love, love, love the Green Salve you gave away - do you sell that anywhere I can buy? It's a miracle!

October 13, 2012 at 6:01 PM  
Blogger rabbit said...

Liquid boyscott hot dogs! ;)

October 13, 2012 at 9:27 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

if you have left over nubs of candles or bits of wax, wrap them in a tiny piece of paper and twist the ends like a candy wrapper. burns wonderfully, and it's virtually free, and doesn't require melting of wax. I'd be careful using dryer lint unless you really know what's in your clothes... as a rule in girl guides we don't use dryer lint because of the high likelihood we'd be burning polyester fibers.. but then, I know people who burn plastic water bottles, so pick your battles.

October 14, 2012 at 10:43 PM  

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