Saturday, November 24, 2018

Yes. I've Already Decorated for Christmas.

I see you judging me. Stop it.

We have a tradition here in the US; no Christmas decorating until AFTER the turkey is gobbled. Unless of course you are a retail store who is now putting some Christmas items out in August. Heathens. But generally, the average American puts off  pulling out the totes and bags and trees until the Pilgrims and Indians are stashed away.

Or as one four-year-old member of our family called them years ago, the Pig-rims and the Idiots. She may have been talking about the table top figurines or her immediate family, we'll never know.

This year though I broke the rules, mixed up the routine, challenged the d├ęcor gods and put up Christmas Crapola (my mothers' words not mine) two weeks ago. Not all of it of course, too shocking, but a doorway here and a window there. The flannel valence below  was a thrift shirt I cut up and hot glued. My mother didn't call it 'crapola' for nothing.

The Lone Door Through Which All Must Pass

The Door Into Our Mudroom

Inside the Looney Bin. 
The Barn Picture is currently up for sale on eBay if interested 

But since we only have one doorway into the Looney Bin, it was still an impressive start. I blame the grandbabies for this, and the aging process, and the aging process going on within the grandbabies. It all rolls back to that blog I wrote recently about time going by too fast.

I also blame the Three French Hens Holiday Market, visited recently by myself, my daughter and my two daughter-in-laws. Below are pics from that wonderful event in Morris, Illinois. I was-how shall I say -inspired. I mean after all, we have 90% of this type of inventory all over our farm, all I have to do is gather it together.

Like the sign my daughter saw that read "Yes, we know you can make it yourself, but will you?"

I decided that when the GK's come to visit each Sunday this next month, I'd like them to have a bit

more Santa/Angel/Snowman/Reindeer folly to revel in. The season is short. The babies grow up too fast.  The parents will continue their eye rolling behind my back.

Besides, the dreary, gray, rainy, snowy, November weather continues and I needed some additional lighting effects and the proverbial red bow, to lift my spirits.

Friday, November 16, 2018

1868 House Reduced by Half

My husband.

Such a hard worker.

I so envy his ability to keep (literally) pounding away at this old house on our property. He has almost singlehandedly removed nearly 50% of this building and board by board recycled all that he could. He often works all morning on the house then works all evening at his off farm job. Fortunately he is home weekends.

The 1868 house in June

The 1868 house in November
Missing its south side

Although I help some with burning of trash and pick up duties, my main focus on this project has been in the sidelines. I do all the evening chores and some of the morning chores if he's strapped on time. I keep Keith well fed, well clothed and well hydrated. You know what they say; Behind every demo man stands a woman with fresh cinnamon rolls. Or something like that.

Now, that we've accepted the fact that Fall has been stolen from us and winter is here to stay, we're on our fifth snow already, the demo work will slow and the construction work in the barn will accelerate.

Last week Keith and son Jason started on a couple of the inside barn walls and closed in most of the south side which was open all last winter. This has cut down the wind inside the barn dramatically and makes a more comfortable place to work.

Living in a simultaneous destruction/construction zone is a challenge, especially with the freezing, snowing, melting and subsequent mudding of the property, but at least we have plenty of scrap wood to burn in our rocket mass stove. We expect a messy, chaotic and very cozy (inside) winter!

My writing studio at dusk last week

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

And Hello ...Cold, Wet November!

A beautiful fall day in Pontiac Illinois
Last week

Followed by cold, frosty weather, the very next day

A little ticked about our lack of fall here. A few nice days in October but seems like we're spiraling quickly towards winter. The leaves have been stripped from the trees due to high winds when coupled with the Daylight Savings leap backwards into time and night falling that much quicker, it's obvious what's coming.

Can't complain too much though because we only fired up our rocket mass stove once so far, last night. With the recent damp days our concrete floors were getting cool and even though I bake and/or cook every day, which heats up the ambient air in the grain bin, it's not enough to keep the place warm for too long this time of year.

Still, we made it to November 4 which is over two weeks past our initial rocket mass firing of 2017. Not sure if the weather stayed warmer longer or we are just tolerating cooler temps better each year. Generally if it's 64 degrees or more in the grain bin we are comfortable. But last night the rain made it feel colder and so we broke down, cleaned out the RMH and set our first fire for the fall.

Prepping the stove for another winters' work does not take long. We removed the lid from the steel barrel and vacuumed up all the fine dust that accumulated in the fire brick tower (wrapped in Kaowool, a ceramic fire insulator) and down at the bottom of the barrel. Because the fire burns so hot, the ash is fine and a years accumulation equated to about a half gallon worth of ash.

Then we vacuumed ash from the take out point (black disk to left of barrel) which was minimal. That's the coolest thing about a RMH. There is very little ash or creosote build up in any of the stove pipes we have buried under our concrete floor, and by the time the heat/smoke gets to the main stove pipe leading out of the grain bin, it has been converted into a very clean steam.

It is the ugliest, most efficient heating device we have ever used.

After the cleanouts, we fired up the RMH and within thirty minutes the temp had risen 5 degrees and when we shut it down about two hours into the burn, it was 75 inside! Keith was walking around bareback and I found sleep uncomfortable. I love a cool bedroom. Now, over 24 hours later since firing up the RMH, the inside temp is still cozy at 68 degrees.

Freezing temps are expected later this week however, so we'll likely run the RMH some tomorrow night to keep the concrete floor "battery" charged with heat, which will be slowly released in the hours in between burns.

The stainless steel barrel, which acts as the primary conductor for the heat generated by wood burning, was hot enough last night for Keith to cook an egg on and warm enough today for me to rise bread and then finish drying a couple pair of jeans still damp from hanging outside.

Ah, if only I were so multi-talented.

Soon we'll be full blown into the routine of gathering wood every day to burn, stacking it in the mudroom to ensure a dry load for the next burn, scooping out the ashes from the wood feed chamber the day before, restarting the fire and then sitting close to the RMH for 2-3 hours every evening while feeding wood into it, but for now we'll probably only need to burn it every two-three days.

It's part of our ritual for bringing in the next season, and considering the person who stocks the stove ends up sitting/reading in the rocker next to it, we're not that disappointed to see this cool season arrive a bit early. Pros and cons, pros and cons.