Ben and Elijah finished the chimney today! It was a long day..but he is pleased with the finished product. I didn't have to go up again. They figured a way to pull out two screws and screw in a 2x4 as a brace instead of me! :-) (YES!) Elijah was very familiar with being on the roof from last year's construction. It really was perfect timing, because Monday is supposed to be really wet, cold and stormy.
A very blustery and gray day. We are tempering the stove today, keeping the fire small and low, to "condition the stove" as per manufacture instructions. Ben keeps checking, and yes...chimney is still there!
Keeping Chazaq away from the stove is a primary concern! It gets very hot to touch and could burn him for sure. We have a wooden play pen that can be "opened up" around it...so that it what we have done for now. It is not impenetrable...so we are on our toes...to train him to stay away from it. It gives us the barrier we need to get to him in time. It seems to be manageable enough thus far, so we don't have to fasten it to the wall with brackets...but we are on "high alert" regarding it and not sure if it is sufficient just yet. Chazaq is creative and can undo our rubber band ties for the kitchen cabinets. He is in that stage of liking to "get into things".
Operation "Wood Collection" is in full effect. Ben and Elijah are really enjoying it. It is "good honest-man work". :-) They take 'old blue 2' (our farm truck) to the edge of the woods and walk in with the chain saw and cut up fallen wood. We have ample woods to harvest fallen wood which is already been seasoned for quite long time...hard to say how long not having applied this year after year...but we are thinking this will be how we do are able to do it. With about 35 acers in woods (around our pastures) and milder TN winter (it is not like we live in Michigan or Maine)...we are thinking we shouldn't have to cut fresh trees. We got some really nice dry cedar that smells so nice. It is nice that the house is not smoky or sooty, but there is a scent of wood fire coming out of the chimney and it lingers from opening the firebox. I really, really like that! It smells like "a homestead" all earthy and warm and old fashioned...yet not "dirty" like camping!
We keep a small pile of wood outside the front door on our front porch and the larger supply in the soft shed been just put up on the side of the house. We have a cabinet on the front porch, so we decided to use that for our kindling. It is all in handy proximity to the stove for yet not dirty inside... a combo we both really appreciate! :-)
We started experimenting with the top of the cook stove today. We made a big batch of cottage cheese (from 4 gallons of fresh milk it renders about a half gallon of the yummiest cottage cheese). My sour dough and bread also like being near the stove to rise as do my many herbal things I have steeping right now.
There is a water reservoir in the back, that gives us 10 gallons of hot water "on tap" in the back of the stove, a gal could get used to that!
It know the stove is very novel right now, as we figure out how to keep it at a temperature we like. The next step will be figuring out how to cook on it, and in it, regularly. I did think we were going to get rid of the gas stove, and put more counter there (which would be so nice by the sink) but I am really liking the idea of having the two ovens and quick convenience of the gas...so we might keep it on for that reason. Either way there is not rush...because adding counter/cabinet is not in the budget...so that settles that for now. :-)
Hailey and Naomi and I went into town today to get a few things. We made a Goodwill run, and got some great deals! Eliana and Gideon needed coats and Hailey got a few jumpers (which lightened some of my sewing!) and Momma and Papa got a few shirts. We came out with 3 coats, 7 shirts and 2 dresses for less than $50! I love those thrifty finds! I still hope to find a winter coat for Chazaq...we sold all of Gideon's smaller things (under 3T) for the orphanage benefit we had 2 years ago.
Our month ran out of money last month...budget is at the forefront of our conversations again. We want to stick to our goal of having the farm paid off in 5 years, but still continue to move forward in homesteading projects...both take money...so we are trying to retrain ourselves in hunkering down with finances. We are learning to better live within our means and WAIT for things. One of those things that we are waiting for is a car repair. Our Caravan is sitting (and will for most of the winter) at the mechanic as we try to juggle money for it's repair. I have lots of unfinished dental work on the horizon as well...
Papa, Elijah and Gideon cut another load of wood today..until Ben's chain on the chainsaw broke. There is still a lot to do...but our little shed is slowly getting stocked!
I baked for the first time in the cookstove today. It was fun trying to figure out my fire and keep my temperature consistent. I did it though! I made sourdough baguettes, and had garlic broth simmering on the top all day.
We opened the door to the back porch (otherwise know as the pantry, summer kitchen and Ben's office) when it got too toasty. It warmed up the porch nicely (which Ben was very happy about!). The upstairs isn't cold, but it wasn't getting the heat like it should, so we picked up some simple vents and hope that that will help it rise better. We may try using a fan too. Our fans in the living room also help the heat in the living area if it gets too warm. I had the cook stove up to almost 450 for the bread and I had 6 casseroles on the other stove so our living area was toasty! I also had some electric going too -- 2 dehydrators, the laundry and a crock pot. :-)
If you want to learn more about serving in the vineyards of Israel and seeing the country in a really organic way, from the inside out...please please contact The Wallers at Hayovel.com . It is a very unique in many ways! Just one of those ways is that people of all ages serve, granparents, young adults and families. The Wallers serve as a family whenever possible...it is an amazing ministry that supports Israel in a grass roots way that is really speaking the heart of the people and claiming YHVH's territory for His people. We have not gone yet...but have supported them every since we met them 4 years ago. We know many people who have served with them and they all say that their lives have been changed forever as a result!