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hqueen's collection of Far From the Usual stuff.

Discussion in 'Member's "Self Sufficient Living" Journals' started by hqueen13, Dec 16, 2011.

  1. Jan 10, 2019
    hqueen13

    hqueen13 <Insert Snazzy Title Here

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    I know, I'm having trouble rationalizing it. And then I think what happens if this becomes "normal"? What happens if this is just the way it's going to be?? I don't know how we'll adjust, because everything is just soggy. There's water everywhere, literally. It just doesn't dry out or go away.

    They're saying the S word for the weekend, but it looks like we won't end up with much. I guess that's ok since I have to do barn chores on Sunday morning. Cowboy and Coyote's owners are leaving tomorrow again for 15 days, so I'll have to deal with them. The temps are dropping pretty fast, and it's supposed to be windy for the next 3 days, I'm not exactly thrilled about that either. I did ask them to put the heated tub out instead of the regular trough, so hopefully they get that swapped if it was low enough before they leave. If not, I'll just have to let the big tub go down as they drink it and keep chipping ice off of it for a few days. Thankfully it sits against the barn wall on the sunny side, so that helps keep the ice down anyway.

    Not much else to report. I'm tired of driving to HR's house to take care of the ponies, but I've got a system down and it doesn't take me too long. They'll be back Saturday so not much longer. Cowboy and Coyote are so much easier to deal with. The money isn't quite as good, but they're gone longer anyway, so it balances out. I'll have the chickens to do in a week or so, too, but thankfully that's only for a few days as well.

    I guess winter is finally here, so now we have to deal with the freezes and stuff. Maybe I can park on our new driveway while it's frozen, LOL That might be fun!
     
  2. Jan 11, 2019
    baymule

    baymule Sustainability Master

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    I admire you braving the elements to go care for your's and other's horses. Me, I'd be building a fence and shelter come spring, for my own, and to heck with everyone else's. For years and years I had to go to our property to feed and water my horses, now I walk out the door and there they are! It is soooooo much easier, can't imagine running around in the snow that you get. Our 3 day snows are enough for me.
     
    NH Homesteader likes this.
  3. Jan 14, 2019 at 2:28 PM
    hqueen13

    hqueen13 <Insert Snazzy Title Here

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    @baymule I can't wait, either. Unfortunately we've discovered that it's quite a bit more complicated than just popping a fence up. And my BF doesn't really want to do things half way (which I probably would have done a long time ago, LOL), and I can respect that. I don't want to destroy the land, there isn't enough space for that, either. So it's going to be much more expensive than I anticipated. If I can get my business really cooking then it won't matter because it would easily cover it. But I'm not quite there yet! And most of the other horses I care for I'm paid to care for. So while I don't like running around in the weather at least I'm getting paid to do it! My one clients, with Cowboy and Coyote are super good about letting me know that I don't need to go if the roads are bad. They have a neighbor with horses that I'm also friends with, so I can always ask them to go check on the water if I know I'm not going to get back as quickly. I can load the hay feeders so they're full and will last a while, but the water is the only other issue. I don't enjoy burning the gas, but I don't mind the work itself.

    Nothing super eventful this weekend. It did snow Saturday night, which means everything takes SO much longer than it should. I headed out of the house to clear the truck about 7:30, forgetting that it would take me time to clear the truck before I could leave and the drive would be slower due to the roads, so I didn't get to the farm until almost 8:30. Then everything took longer there (because snow) and so I didn't head to Cowboy and Coyote's until after 11, which is WAY late for me, even on a Sunday. SO it goes. I didn't get home until 12:30, which was frustrating since that blew half my day.

    We ate lunch, and then decided to go to Home Depot to get some insulation stuff for the house to try to keep more heat in. The BF had measured the window in the basement, and wanted to get a big sheet of insulation to put in it. Only down side was he forgot the measurements, and then we decided not to cut it. It's 4' x 8'. It FIT into my explorer, however, it made driving difficult since it was over the front seats. We managed, and swung by Cowboy and Coyote's before going home. I normally don't like to be there that close together, but I needed to just be able to be home for a while.

    We got home and we got the BF's truck cleaned off, and moved in front of mine so he could get out in the morning since the 4wd doesn't work on that truck anymore. I came in the house and soaked in the tub, and the BF played with the insulation stuff. He got it cut for the window, and then when I got out of the tub, we fixed it up for the attic door so that hopefully the air stops coming in there so badly. The only other thing we have to do is put the weather stripping around the basement door that we bought, so hopefully that will help too. I'm thinking it might be good to go back and get some of the plastic film that goes on the windows, but we'll see. We have a little less than half a sheet of the insulation left, so he's going to probably put that in the smaller basement windows as well. Every little bit helps. We also fired up the wood stove this weekend, so that is nice and toasty. I forgot how nice it is to have it running because it warms the bedroom floor up! Hopefully that will help cut down on the gas bill, too. It's been up over $250 for the past 2 months, and that's a lot! The only other thing that we really wanted to do was get the pipe insulation to cover the hot water pipes, which is part of our heat as well as the water pipes themselves. That should help reduce the gas bill, too, if we can get those covered up so they retain the heat better. So far we've spent just over $60, hopefully this will lower the power bill enough to pay for the supplies and have money left over! We'll see anyway. The worst of our winter is yet to come, at least traditionally anyway.

    Not much else to report. Still chugging along.
     
  4. Jan 14, 2019 at 3:29 PM
    frustratedearthmother

    frustratedearthmother Sustainability Master

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    Good deal on taking care of the insulation issues. You are right - every little bit helps!
     
  5. Jan 18, 2019 at 5:00 PM
    hqueen13

    hqueen13 <Insert Snazzy Title Here

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    Minor emergency that turned out ok this week...
    So Wednesday morning I went and fed the cats and noticed the basement was smoky, which has been happening a bit after we set the wood stove. I came back from the back half of the basement and gave the cats their food and looked at the wood stove and heard this WHOOSH and a giant puff of smoke came out from every crack and crevice in the stove and in the stove pipe all the way up the wall. I was duly freaked out at this point. I texted the BF, and went upstairs and took care of a few things. I came back down and the smell was stronger, and the stove did the giant WHOOSH and belched smoke everywhere again. I was freaked out by now. The BF called me, and right about that time the smoke detector went off (finally). I was trying to get that stopped so I could think straight and told the BF I was calling the neighbor who is a former fire fighter. Luckily he's awake really early, it was only 6:45. He came over right away, and says "I see you've got some smoke coming out the chimney, but I see a few embers, you've probably got a chimney fire." He comes in, and says let's check the attic, and there wasn't any smoke there, and so we go into the basement. He checks the chimney again, still has smoke (and embers) coming out. He very gingerly cracked the stove door so it could get cooler and clean air, and it was a hornets nest of sparks flying, so we could barely open the door. He checked the chimney again, and asked for a spray bottle of water. I got that for him, and finally the sparks stopped flying around so bad and he was able to open the door enough that he could start gently spraying the fire with water. He says don't throw a bucket of water on it, that's bad, and he's seen firefighters do it, but it will crack all the firebrick in the chimney from the temperature change which means that the fire can escape through the cracks. So he very gently spritzes the fire, and waits a few seconds, and spritzes it some more. He tells me to go check the walls in my bedroom where the chimney is to make sure that they aren't warm. I hustle upstairs and find them just as cold as usual (really cold...), and then report back to him that it's all good. We let the fire settle a bit, and he checks the chimney again, still got smoke so that's good. We go up and take a look in the attic, and there's a little smoke up there, but it seems that it has drifted upstairs instead of coming from the outside since the wind isn't blowing in the right direction to blow it into the house. We go back downstairs and spritz the fire some more. By this time the BF has arrived, thankfully he was only about 20 minutes away (which was lucky, too, because he could have been on the other side of town). It's pretty much under control at this point, and the smoke is still steadily coming out the chimney. So we keep spritzing the fire to help get it down. The neighbor went back to take his dog out and said he'd check back later. Whew.

    The BF tried to leave, and his truck got stuck, he drives and 18wheeler. He managed to get himself out of the mud, and I finally sat down to eat breakfast. I kept spritzing the fire, and was finally able to spread the embers out a bit to get it to burn down even more. After they were beginning to really fade I checked in with the neighbor and he returned to help me scoop out the stove so we could get it to cool off even faster. We just dumped the ashes in a pile in the snow. Thank goodness for snow.

    After 3 calls on Thursday I found a chimney sweep that could come out that afternoon! And that was really only because they had a cancellation. Everybody else was booked into February. Oh, and they were cheaper than everybody else, too!

    The guy was definitely an odd duck, and he came with 2 younger people with him that were a bit odd, too. But they knew their stuff and I got a lot of questions answered. So all the chimneys are nice and clean in the house. The BF did a good job with that. As far as the stove and stove pipe goes, the older man (who had probably been sweeping chimneys his whole life from the looks of it) we need to make some changes. Firstly, he told me that with the extreme wet weather this year that even "seasoned" wood is not going to be as dry as it should be, and that contributes to buildup. He suggested building a wood rack in the house to keep a few days worth of wood in to help it dry out before it's used. Secondly, he said that the layout of the stove and chimney pipe wasn't good. The stove sits about 18" from the wall, and the pipe comes out of the back, makes a 90 degree turn, goes up the wall, makes another 90 and into the chimney. The BF had already purchased a T joint, so that one end faces down and one end faces up the chimney, with the single side of the T doing into the stove (so a T on it's side). This allows a space at the bottom of the pipe for ash and debris to collect so that it doesn't lay in the actual air flow section of the pipe like ours had with the 90 degree elbow. There's no where for any of the stuff to go except sit in that bend otherwise. He also took a look at the old pipe and said that we'd be better off replacing it completely. Not to mention the lack of the cleanout at the bottom of the T, but he also doesn't recommend that there be a damper IN the pipe, which ours had. He said that it just serves to clog things up over time because anything in the pipe gets caught on it. Then he suggested that the pipe that goes into the wall be shorter, ours was at least 18" long. He said to make it a lot shorter and then there will be less space that the smoke has to travel horizontally before it gets into the actual chimney. He also suggested pulling the stove away from the wall by another foot or so and using 45 degree angles instead of 90 to make it easier for the smoke to travel upward and not get caught in the horizontal spaces so easily. I told him that sometimes it was hard to get an updraft started, and that makes sense with the smoke needing to go in so many different directions. He also said that burning the stove hotter will keep the creosote from building up inside, which is what catches fire in the chimney. He recommended a product called ACS to help keep the creosote down. I asked him about using one of those 'cleaning log' things, and he said not to do it, they don't actually work. He also wouldn't sell me the ACS because he said they charge too much for it, and said I should go online to amazon and buy it buy the case. He said it'll be about 1/3 of the price per bottle than what he sells it for. He also noted some issues with the chimney caps, but we were aware of all of that already. So not bad news at all. The inspection cost about $76, and then we went out last night and got the rest of the pipe, which cost around $100, so that's not a lot of money for peace of mind. Of course, it's not in the budget, but we'll make it work. It'll probably be money added to the credit card, but at this point it has to happen. So once we take a wire brush to the inside of the stove to get the creosote out of it before we start to burn it again, then we can get it set up to run again, right before the next wave of really cold weather hits. He also said not to use anything to permanently connect the stove pipe pieces, at most use a screw, but he said that you really don't even need that. It's best to be able to take them completely apart to clean them rather than keeping them fixed together. I think that was part of our problem, the original one was riveted together so we couldn't take it apart to clean it completely.

    So now we know a lot more and can fix things so we can run it again! The place we bought the pipe also had the ACS (not as cheap as amazon, but I figured getting started we needed it), so we'll be able to get it cleaned up this weekend and get it ready to go again before the weather gets bad Saturday.

    I'm NOT excited about the weather. Today is above freezing, after about 1" of snow overnight. Tomorrow rain rolls in late in the day, and they're calling for 1-2" with some snow mixed. Sunday morning temps are somewhere in the 40's, but high winds and the temps will be falling to 25 by late in the day, with an overnight low of 7. Monday's high is only in the teens, and then the low drops to below 10 again. Tuesday and into Wed we warm up a bit, but then by Thursday the next system rolls in again with who knows what. The ground is frozen, so even though it's going to be relatively warm before this rain/snow starts, the ground isn't going to let it soak in. I don't know where 1-2" of rain is going to go at this point. I've got chicken duty next week for SR, and he and I talked today about how to manage it so that it's as easy as possible. We discussed where the water shut off is, and what to leave dripping. I'm not even going to let the chickens out, honestly, they won't want to go out in it, and it will be better if their heat stays in anyway. That way I can also stop by to collect eggs early so the eggs don't freeze in the coop, and I won't have to worry about locking them up at dark. Fun times... who knows what's going to happen with the horses, we'll see how it goes.
     
  6. Jan 18, 2019 at 5:37 PM
    Lazy Gardener

    Lazy Gardener Almost Self-Reliant

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    Learning the details of how to safely burn wood definitely involves a learning curve. Glad you had the chimney sweep guy give you some pointers about how to safely install a stove pipe. Ours is very short: a single elbow going from stove into the chimney. If the stove is turned down too low, and the weather patterns are just right, we will get a back draft which creates a puff of smoke into the living space. About once per month, we pull the stove pipe and give it a good cleaning. And 1 - 2 x/season, hubby goes up on the roof and cleans the chimney. Dry hardwood is a must. Not worth it to burn soft wood at all IMHO. It's good to burn the fire hot on a daily basis (in a controlled manner) to keep the creosote from building up in stove pipe or chimney. Also, be aware that there are different gauges of metal for stove pipes. The cheap ones burn out quickly. Spend the money on the heavier duty ones, and you will be safer, and actually spend less money in the long run.
     

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