Monday, September 15, 2014

Day 1

I woke up this morning to a sickening feeling, as if I had spent the night in a Tupperware bin. Like the kind used to store sweaters under a bed. It felt muggy and confined in the house, as if that rubber bin was heated by a hairdryer blowing through a small hole. All of this is to say: I woke up to furnace heat.

The first chilly night of fall triggers it on when the house's indoor temperature goes below 50 degrees. Even if you had it set for 40 in March it resets after not being touched for a few months and you have to manually turn it off, and in the festivities of Game Night I had forgotten. So I woke up to a 63 degree home even though all the windows were open and it was 36 degrees outside. So you have to imagine that false feeling of forced air warmth so heavy it let the house remain 63 degrees when the earth outside was happily cooling off. Gross.

I walked right downstairs and turned it off, feeling cheated from my morning plans. I wanted to wake up to a house cold, but not in any way threatened like it could be in winter. At the beginning of fall such cool nights are a novelty. I wanted to come down with my bare feet cold to the touch of the floor. Come down to the primal desire for a warm fire, for a hot drink in my aching hands, for a blanket and a woodstove and my own breath in my living room and watch it all disappear within an hour of fire and morning chores. All wondrous discomfort gone in a bowl of oatmeal made over the fire, with brown sugar and apples from the tree outside pilfered when I fed my flock... That was the dream for this first day of Staycation...

Instead I got to feel like a bedsweater. Ugh.

But as I headed outside to clear my head and open my lungs, I realized my entire life up until a few years ago was furnace heat and open windows. I would have never noticed it before, not ever. That feeling of living inside confinement, diesel fuel and recycled air was normal as moss on rocks. It was part of living in the Northeast, part of every day. But for the past three winters only firewood has kept this house warm. My body has changed to favor it, comfortable in temperatures now that just a few years ago would have teeth chattering. Yet here I am, a few years later, offended by the furnace's uninvited imposition and seriously upset I woke up to—in most normal peoples' opinion—a comfortable home. I had an apple and a cup of coffee. I'll save the oatmeal for later in the week.

I spent the morning outside stacking my second cord of firewood. When that was mostly done I walked the dogs, wrote this morning's post, witnessed the death of my work computer, and went outside to stack more wood in frustration of two year's of lost work, photographs, and manuscripts. I wasn't upset, just frustrated I had no backed anything non-publishing related up. Lesson learned.

Having the entire day at the farm I did the last thing I thought I would. I cleaned. I raked and washed windows. I picked up trash and old bottles in the woods. I did the mundane outside and indoor stuff I usually ignore - assuming it part of the war casualties of the life I chosen. Clean windows?! I'm a homesteader with 50+ animals. We don't need no stinkin' clean windows! Well, I guess I do. For a blessed 34 minutes not one dog snot mark was on the panes. They are back of course. Computer data is as fickle as a leaf in the wind, but nose streaks, that is a power that LASTS.

My one meal of the day was leftover soup from last night, heated over the stove and served over Amish egg noodles from the larder. It was only enough to fill a small bowl but more than enough in energy. It was delicious. Apples are in season so I bit into a Honey Crisp and it was better than candy.

The end of the day was a 3 mile ride with Merlin after chores. We traveled up the mountain and took in the mid-September view of a still, mostly green, mountain. We did a little exploring and off-trail riding in the woods and came home on the road a mile or so up from the farm. People right now are on planes to India to explore. I wonder if they know all the hidden paths just a few miles from their front doors?

Tomorrow I have one short 2-mile errand in the horse cart to a neighbor, but hope to spend most of the day in the Kailyard, preparing it for winter. Today was about firewood and cleaning but tomorrow I hope to weed and hoe. My goal is a properly presented Kailyard for fall and maybe even some new fall plantings. I know it is late but even if all I get is baby greens before true frost that's just a few hours of work for many meals. I'll risk it. And if I rig up some plastic out there it'll certainly stay protected for tough crops.

Calling it a night now. Reposing with a movie and glass of cider. I hope you all had kind and productive days. Tomorrow I'll post with updates on Antlerstock, and hope some more of you will grab the last spots! Two days of a small and hearty homesteading festival here at my farm. Lots of authors, instructors, artisans and teachers - all eager to take on axe, harness, herb and hoof! And I promise only WOOD heat for my guests that weekend, so expect some awesome discomfort ahead. If you're a part of our tribe, you know exactly what I mean!

Edit 11:33 PM I would just like to say there's nothing wrong with furnace heat. What I failed to explain was just how much hot air was being pumped into an old house with every window open to feel like a food dehydrator. Also I am weird, and enjoy earning the first comforts of the day. I did not intend to sound like an ass who is too good for heat, though the worry that I did has me updating from my phone, in bed, worried I insulted every nice person with a furnace. I am used to being the heater instead of being heated, is all, and that change in body and mind was what I wanted to talk about. It will either turn people off from all-wood-heat or excite them. I suppose? Let's hear it for me!


Blogger mdoe37 said...

Yes, well, furnace heat is expensive heat....I just heard mine burn two $1 bills. lol Too early here for the pellet stove.

Is your hard drive completely toast? Mine died a couple of years ago...with some important papers of the husbands. They were able to recover everything. Crossing my fingers for you! (THEY meaning the computer geeks at the repair store)

September 16, 2014 at 7:10 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

While we have been mostly wood fuelled heat since the stove went in a few years ago-ours does the back up thing if the house gets too cold. Aaaannnd the introduction of the wee new human has us a little more cautious for now we're working a little more with furnace air than wood as his room is about as far away from the woodstove as you can get so can't let the lil bugger freeze!

September 16, 2014 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I felt hot and stuffy just reading this. I didn't think you were saying anything bad about furnace heat, but that it wasn't what you were expecting or looking forward to. I enjoyed this post and look forward to reading about your week.

P.S. Mr. Clean Erasers are the only thing we've ever found that cleans Great Dane Slobber. They should use that stuff to glue together aircraft or something.

September 16, 2014 at 10:29 AM  
Blogger NatalieM said...

I've come to prefer heat to cold since moving from Indiana to Florida, but yuck, I can understand waking up to that would not have been pleasant. Also, thank you for continuing to write this blog, I've learned so much over the last few years, and while my husband's and I's idea of homesteading takes place in warmer, island, climate, I've learned so much from you already, I don't even blink at the idea of slaughtering animals for food anymore. Thank you

September 16, 2014 at 11:52 AM  
Blogger Lone Pine Farm said...

After at least a year, we finally cleaned our windows a few weeks ago - and I had to keep touching them to reassure myself that they were still there, still solid, and not just a hole through the wall. Nose streaks definitely make my house feel like home!

I would love to spend a week at home, without running in to town. And I have no doubt that I could do it. But I would still want the comfort of the car in the driveway, ready to go should the worst happen. I'm a worrier, and although I've gotten better at letting go of the little anxieties, I would still think about "What if Husband got hurt at work, I wouldn't be able to go meet him at the hospital" or "What if the dog badly hurt himself, I wouldn't be able to take him to the vet."

And I have the same disdain - for air conditioners. I hate those things. I would seriously rather put in a basement than install an air conditioner (and that's exactly what we plan to do). And, like you, I don't hold a grudge against those who have them, and I don't feel superior to anyone. I just really hate the feeling of artificially-chilled air.

September 18, 2014 at 8:35 PM  

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