Splittin season

The mornings lately have turned cool. After the near 6 inches of rain we had from the last of Gustav, tomatoes and tiger melons are splitting and the green beans and cucumbers are getting fat in a hurry.

I’ve finally started to cut up the old oak that was the anchor of Katy’s treehouse. It was boiled by a lightening strike which made its huge branches deadly falls in the waiting. The fire wood will be put to good use this winter. We are installing a new soapstone wood stove where our inefficient fire place now resides. It wasn’t a hard decision to spend the cash on a new wood stove. After buying 150 gallons less than we used last year for almost $500.00 more over the previous years price it has become apparent that I’ll have to either get another job or sell a pristine Honus Wagner baseball card. Since I won’t be getting another job and I don’t have a Honus Wagner card in my sock drawer I guess we will burn a chit load of wood this winter.

The many options available for wood stoves and inserts made this particular stove the one that just made the most sense for us and our long term plans for energy and home improvement projects. We wanted something that would heat the house and still look good. Our friends in Steelville have a larger model of the same type stove that I just fell for. The fire can be rolling but the radiant heat doesn’t run you out of the house. It just seems to soak the whole house, not over power it. There are many times I have been in homes with old cast iron stoves where the door stood open cause of the excessive heat. It always seemed hard to regulate temperature spikes with the cast iron stoves. I do however have fond memories of crawling up in a caboose with a glowing stove to warm my near frozen feet in my early railroading career, but I don’t live in a caboose.

We had an ice storm a couple of years ago that left us without power for six days during one of the coldest storms in my memory. The storm left me feeling like I was caught with my pants down. My wood pile was carelessly left uncovered so most of our wood was covered with a couple of inches of ice. Our fireplace is a pre-fab unit that is highly inefficient. We heat with propane, but with no electric…no heat. We are also on a well for our water, so there too we were without. There was just a whole lot of things that should have been done differently than I had managed at that point.

We have bought a generator that stands ready in the garage and I have installed a power transfer switch. The wood pile is covered and now we will have a much more efficient wood heat source.

We started out making changes after the storm before the real hard energy decisions were made for us. When the energy markets did their pole vaulting routine this past year it became very apparent that the changes we were making were more important than me just feeling like my pants were around my ankles. These were decisions that would have a direct and immediate effect on our bottom line.

We are making plans to add a solar hot water system to the house next year. There are some really cool products out there but I have no clue which would work best for us. The research begins with the evacuated tube systems in the lead so far.

Thankfully when we built this house we had passive solar in mind with our orientation of our homes footprint. We stay fairly cool in the summer even though there is no shade offered by the trees near the house. The air conditioner was used only twice this year more as a club against the humidity than anything. It was an unusually cool summer though.

More insulation, wrapping the pipes with foam, re-caulking and replacing worn door seals and sweeps, replacing incandescent bulbs with cfl’s, and most importantly; turning off what is not being used. These are all completed or ongoing efforts. It’s one step at a time here. There is only so much that we can afford to change. Although it is getting to the point that we can’t afford not to change.



  1. karl said,

    September 11, 2008 at 5:40 AM

    i am jealous of your wood stove choice. i have four slightly used solar hot water collectors that have been waiting to go up on our house since we moved here. i brought them from california where i worked at sun light and power my root cellar is in the queue ahead of our solar hot water system. money and time, money and time…i wish you luck on your solar decision. the version that we are going to install should be perfect for the ozarks extremes climate. i can’t wait to blog about that project. it’ll be easier since there will much less guessing compared to the other projects around here.

  2. Ed Abbey said,

    September 11, 2008 at 6:43 AM

    I’ve been trying to talk my wife into a stove instead of the fireplace we have. It is pretty but darn near impractical when it comes to heating a house. We lost power for a couple days a few years back and darn near froze unless we were standing within five feet of the thing.

  3. edifice rex said,

    September 12, 2008 at 6:49 AM

    Sounds like ya’ll have a good plan there Woody! and are in line to make some serious savings on utilities. It’s funny, I’m in the process of doing just about the same things you are. Installing a convection wood stove in the basement soon. Hopefully solar hot water next year too. I hate having to rely on electricity to pump my water but do have a large generator also.

  4. Ron said,

    September 12, 2008 at 9:16 PM

    That’s a nice-looking wood stove! This past winter was our first heating exclusively with wood… and we loved it. It is very comforting to know that we will have heat even if the power goes out. Ours is all metal, lined with firebrick inside, but the heat is very mellow and not overpowering. Nothing beats roasting food over the fire in the dead of winter. :)Which reminds me. I better climb up there and clean out the chimney one of these [dry] days. :)Ron

  5. Marie said,

    September 16, 2008 at 12:40 AM

    That is a nice-looking wood stove–we’re in the middle of deciding on a fireplace insert, because a stove just won’t work in our house–at least not without a lot more expense. We’re trying to get one with as much cooking area as possible, and the difference in cost for just a few inches is quite a bit. Decisions, decisions. Good luck with all the changes you are planning to make!

  6. Country Girl said,

    September 16, 2008 at 4:59 AM

    That is a beutiful stove. We have one of the older ones that blast you out. I love it though…hotter the better! Someday we will update. I am just happy to be able to heat with wood.

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