Bonafide Farm

Waiting out the polar vortex

January 7th, 2014 § 0

Life in this already-small house has contracted to a few cozy square feet right in front of the wood stove as we wait for temperatures to warm. The gang’s all here, basking in the radiant glow of the beautiful Jotul.


I shut off my heat pump last night to keep the expensive emergency electric heat from engaging, so we’re running on all-wood stove heat here. Keeping the stove going between 400 and 500 degrees today, and closing off the office and living room, has kept the temperature inside, in the main living area, at 65, which is the temperature I usually set the electric heat to during the day. I got up twice last night to feed the stove, and though it had burned down to large embers when I finally got up for good this morning, the house temperature had dropped to only 59 degrees in the main area. Even having no heat at all upstairs, the temperature on that floor is down to only 61. All perfectly acceptable temperatures for burning just a few armfuls of wood during the polar vortex, when, at 3:30 early this morning it was 2 degrees on my thermometer outside the kitchen window. In all I am again so pleased with my Jotul—one of my favorite, most functional, things in the world.

In times like these I really appreciate the compact layout of my house, with kitchen, wood stove, and a bathroom all within a few feet of each other. Everything I need is right here. It’s very easy to shut the doors to the guest bedroom, office and living room to contain the heat right in this area and funnel a bit of it up the stairs to the second floor. It’s actually a super-efficient design that, although I didn’t plan it to be, functions just beautifully in extreme weather events and power outages.

The chickens were fine last night. Even with their heat bulb on their gallon waterer froze solid. Once I had that defrosted they had “tea” this morning—warm water—at least until it freezes again! I’m leaving their heat light on tonight but after that temperatures will rebound and it’s back to normal winter and an unheated coop.

It’s all over, folks

October 26th, 2013 § 2

The 2013 growing season came to an end last night with the first freeze of the fall. When I woke up this morning, it was 26 degrees and the ground was covered in thick white frost. Frost


A brisk walk around the farm revealed blackened and sagging flowers, mottled and falling leaves, and the last of the garden peppers reduced to mush inside skin. It is always, for me, the saddest morning of the year. It means no more digging in the dirt and no more daily joy watching my labor become food and flowers. Now all that’s left to do is tear out the dead plants and drag them to the compost pile.


Frozen GardenWeb

I suppose the only saving grace of this inevitable transition is that it’s now woodstove season. I made my first fire this morning to warm up a 50-degree house. I hadn’t turned my heat on yet this fall, and now it’s up to Jotul to beat back the chill. The stove started right up, drew perfectly, and seems so happy to be back to work and the center of attention. It is the warm white heart of this home.


I’ll be back soon with the 2013 garden success and failure post, as well as more info on all sorts of projects that I didn’t get a chance to write about during the busyness of summer. But now it’s time to go put another log on the fire.

You know you’re a devoted redneck…

December 12th, 2010 § 0

…when you leave this cozy spot to head out into a dark cold rain to rig a heat lamp to keep your 15 guineas toasty warm.


The guineas have been doing fine (i.e., surviving) the few nights that have gotten down into the teens. But reading the weather report tonight, I discovered that the storm system sweeping eastward may bring subzero wind chills Tuesday night. I know the birds can handle cold, but the wind we’re expected to get may do them in. I am pretty sure their coop is resistant to wind because its so tightly constructed, but I am not entirely sure how much makes its way through and I don’t want to find out by discovering a bunch of two-legged popsicles.

And, I’d rather be doing this mucking around tonight, in a rainy but relatively balmy 35 degrees, instead of Tuesday night after work in a subzero windstorm.


So I hung a shop light over the perch, nailed it in so it wouldn’t fall and catch their house on fire, and then tacked the cord down so the birds wouldn’t hang themselves if they got caught in it. Thankfully the “chicken door” that the birds never liked to use was just loose enough to let an extension cord in, saving me from drilling holes in my perfectly predator-proof coop. We’ll see how long it takes the birds to start pecking at the extension cord. Then I’ll be enjoying flash-fried poultry instead of popsicles. Choose your poison.


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