Welcome to our 1864 farmhouse…life is good!

Sunday, January 16

you say "Fiercely Independent" like it's a bad thing!

This morning sunlight poured through the kitchen window of the old farmhouse casting pleasant shadows...a cheery glow to the woodpile which is stacked high, the kindling in the old woodbin, and the checkered bench that's drawn close to the hearth. 

In our part of the Midwest we get ready for winter beginning in October...we count bales of hay, fasten tarps around the chicken run, put heated water buckets in place, and cords of wood are double-checked...just how much do we have? 

We make sure there's propane and kerosene for the heaters, count food storage, clean the chimneys, and put the garden to bed. We've talked about what we'd do if the power went out, have spare batteries, prepped power tools, keep oil lamps handy, and learned to cook over an open fire (and let me tell you, a turkey cooked in a tin kitchen in front of a fire is wonderful!).

wood pile...check!

To me, all this just makes sense; yet, once upon a time, someone told me I was "fiercely independent" ... now I could be wrong, but it didn't come across as a compliment. If having a plan so that we're prepared, no matter what happens, makes me fiercely independent, well then, so be it. Personally, I think that's a good thing.  

I want to be sure when the snow and ice come, we're ready...that we're warm and fed, as well as our animals. And not in a "barely surviving" kind of way...let's have s'mores, play board games, watch movies, and make snow ice cream. Goats will get apple slices and chickens warm mash...tell me, fiercely independent, or simply practical? 

And so with that long intro, today makes day 30 with no furnace. It quit, along with the heat pump, the week before Christmas...and with any luck, the part we need will be in this week. 

early morning blue skies and indigo clouds...8 degrees

It's put our preparedness to the test; and that's a good thing. The coldest outdoor temperature we've had so far is 8 degrees...and let me tell you, keeping doors closed to rooms we don't use means a brisk run when we need to pass through them! 

The forecast is for snow beginning in 3 hours...3-5 inches. And you know what? This "fiercely independent" girl is ready...let it snow. 

I thought it was very appropriate to re-read The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder (you can find it free to read or listen to online) and so now I'm sitting in a comfortable chair beginning a knitting project and I'm thinking about the year ahead. Oh yes, my wish list is long, maybe too long, but the calendar for 2022 is empty...new and clean, just waiting to be filled. What will we do with the time given us? 

Azrael warm & cozy by the fire

Happy New Year friends...stay cozy & warm!


Glen day said...

What’s a home without a cat? Even my husband, who didn’t really (ay least when we first were married!) didn’t much care for cats, acknowledged that they made a home feel cozy! He was, at the time, looking at our orange cat curled up in front of the fireplace.

Mary, Windy Meadows Farm said...

You're absolutely right! I wasn't always a cat person, but here on the farm, they show up and become part of the family. This guy is special though...and yes, orange ones are always my favorite! Thanks for stopping by.

Prims By The Water said...

Your kitty sure does look coy. I's say being fiercely independent is a good thing. If we lost our furnace, we would be cooking over our fireplace as well. When my kids were at home we would enjoy cooked meals over the fire in the fireplace. I had these sandwich makers for the fire. We made open faced tuna, hot dogs, smores and even pies to name a few. My dad told me when he was younger he had to do his homework my kerosene light in the winter before my gramma added electricity to the farmhouse. I think nowadays we take things for granted way too much. I do hope thought you get your part for your furnace soon. Janice

Janice Hebert said...

Wow, thirty days? With no heat?? Yikes, I can't even imagine. How do you keep the pipes from freezing? We've had no electricity for a week occasionally and that's not fun. No toilet is no fun! So I'm trying to imagine what we would do without a furnace for that long... nope, can't imagine! We have fireplaces - three of them! But that wouldn't do anything for the pipes in the basement. Maybe heat tape? Anyway, you got this reader thinking - and I don't think being prepared is a bad thing at all! Jan in MA

Mary, Windy Meadows Farm said...

Hi Janice, I love those ideas...sandwiches, hot dogs, s'mores, and pies; what great family memories you've made! I have a pie iron in the barn (somewhere!) I'll look for it in the morning, a terrific plan for tomorrow. Jot down those sweet memories of yours...I see a book in the making. Truly...a way of life so many would love to read about. And you're right...heat at the flick of a switch, a meal in the microwave in minutes...we do take things for granted...it's good to slow down.

Mary, Windy Meadows Farm said...

Jan in MA...thanks for the note!

Well, if we didn't have electricity it would be very different. We have lots of blankets, quilts, electric blankets, heaters, a propane heater (with a carbon monoxide detector in the room) and the kitchen fireplace is going non-stop. We've closed doors to rooms we don't use. And yes, showers are somewhat brisk and taken quickly!

Here in the Midwest, the underground temperature is probably around 55F (13C) year 'round, so the basement is fine. If it were finished it might be a good spot to stay, but in a house this old, it's more of a cellar...low ceilings, dirt floor, and yes actual trees to support the floor above (a story for another time!)

We have acres of open fields around us, so even when the furnace is running, we have a plan when it dips below 20: we let the kitchen faucet drip to prevent the pipes from freezing, and because the outside dryer vent faces the strong northern winds, we put a roll of quilt batting in it to keep the wind out to prevent the washer lines from freezing (yes, it's happened). When we purchased our dishwasher a couple years ago, I thought it was such a waste to have a "soak and scour" cycle that kept the hot water rotating inside for 7 hours. I don't think it's a waste anymore...I turn that cycle on and know the hot water is keeping the water lines to the dishwasher from freezing (yes that's happened, too...and is quite expensive to repair.) I'm not sure how much insulation is in a house of plaster and lath built in 1864...my guess, not much, but it's sheltered families for many years, so we can just add our names to that history. Mary

Staci said...

Oh Gosh Mary - day 30??? Good for you guys for getting yourselves in such a good position that you are prepared for such an event. I hope to someday get my husband on board with doing the same. Preferably before something happens but unfortunately that may be the only way he buys in to setting ourselves up for something such as that.

We ended up receiving about 6 inches of snow so probably about the same as you and our temps have been in the negatives. Your experience makes me appreciate my furnace even more! Even with the pellet stove running 24/7 our furnace fills in nicely when the other half of the house gets chilly.

I hadn't even thought about your pipes....it really is a great lesson for myself and others. Thank you for sharing.

Hugs to you and hopefully your furnace is up and running VERY soon!! 😊

Staci said...

And I forgot to say that I'm happy you're showing your "fierce independence" pays off! Lol

Mary, Windy Meadows Farm said...

Hi Staci, as I write this it's a balmy 60 degrees inside and I can no longer see my breath as I run through those closed off rooms! I just took off my hoodie, and dare I say it...I was too warm! It took two technicians nearly 5 hours to complete the job. So grateful the heat exchanger was under warranty, while no cost for it, the labor was a bit pricey...but the total could have been so much worse.

I'll be honest, it's me who drives the preparedness and pulls the rest of the family along for the ride! Maybe because I'm home all day and can get things done, or maybe because I'm a worrier, over-anxious, and a continual list maker...too much brain noise as they say! We have family night each week...go over the calendar and who's doing what - that's when I'll toss in whatever I'm thinking needs to be done. That's just works for us...and oh yeah, being "fiercely independent!" Thanks again for your kind words! Mary

At Home In New Zealand said...

If that is called being "fiercely independent" then I am all for it! Being prepared for any emergency is a great way to live. We don't have those awful cold temperatures here, but we do have the threat of earthquakes, flooding, and sometimes volcanic eruptions that we need to be ready for :)

Mary, Windy Meadows Farm said...

Thanks Margaret, I appreciate your support!! Oh my...earthquakes, flooding, and volcanoes, those would be scary. For us, summer is really just keeping an eye on high temps and possible tornadoes.

It makes me laugh...the more I think about it, the comment was NOT meant in a good way...whatever! I lived with my grandmother until I was 10...a mother of 8 (who sent 3 sons to WW2) and I watched her (in her 60's) care for a huge garden, preserve food from that garden, and fire a 410 over/under shotgun with amazing accuracy...that's what I call grit, and I'm happy if even a little part of it has trickled down to me. Hope all is well...thanks again for your kind words! Mary

01 09 10