Sunday, January 30, 2011

A nice little tool for our new wood stove

I found a great tool for getting a wood fire going. It goes by the the rather cumbersome name of "Fire Dragon Bellows / Poker". Apparently the generic name for this tool is a "blow poke," which sounds like something that should not be mentioned in polite company.

Anyway, this is basically a hollow fire poker, with a brass mouthpiece on the the end, so you can blow air into the fire with pretty good precision. Here's a picture:

This one is less expensive than the others I found online - about US$40. (I didn't find anything like this at either of our local fireplace stores. And it's been really helpful for me since our first load of firewood has proven to be a little damp. It's not green wood, but I suspect it got rained on at some point.

At any rate, I really like this thing. We've mostly only been burning wood at night. If I remember and have time, I toss a log into the coals in the morning before I leave for work. Then by the time I get home, it's lightly charred and well dried. And surprisingly, even if I don't toss a log in, I still find hot coals at 5pm. With the remaining embers and the blower, I can get a fire going without matches or a lighter.

More on some other topics when I get a chance. Right now I'm exhausted.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The delights of metal roofing

I wish you could hear the sounds we heard the other day.

We had an ice storm the other day - which seems to be a bigger winter problem than snow around these parts. Anyway, so yesterday morning, our world was encased in ice - thin enough that it breaks when you walk on it, but thick enough that it's really loud when it does break.

Daytime highs have not been very high, but the sun was out. On our new metal roof, the ice melts first on the raised ridges (see picture in previous post), leaving wide sheets of ice in the low spots in between. As the sun shines down, these huge sheets of ice start to slide down. Sometimes it slowly slides down and curves to hang straight down, making it look like there are icy blinds hung off the front of our porch:

Other times it slides off en masse, in great avalanches that sound like thunder that send the poor dog running for cover.

But the weirdest sound is when one long sheet comes loose all at once. I'm not sure if I can describe it exactly. The long rectangle of ice slides down whole (making quite a rumble), until the weight of the free hanging end snaps off, and a slab the size of an oversized bed pillow falls to the deck and crashes into a thousand pieces. Meanwhile, the sheet is still sliding down fairly quickly, causing another slab to break off and shatter... followed by another slab, and another, in rapid succession.

You'd swear there was a locomotive coming through the back yard.

Here's what the aftermath looks like:



Sunday, January 09, 2011

Photo follow-up from last post

New roof
(and new wood stove chimney)

New wood stove

New downspout and new (old) rainbarrel
Now the only problem is that the water line from the well to the house has frozen. So we have no running water. Not an emergency at this point. But I've got to figure out how to either insulate it, or maybe wrap it in heat tape or something. I'd rather insulate though.



Friday, January 07, 2011

Some nice milestones, and a loss

Well, let's see.... Lots going on here.

We lost one chicken. There was snow on the ground, but I couldn't find any non-chicken tracks. I couldn't find any breaches in the chicken pen. No blood, no carcass. Just a handful of feathers inside the coop. My best guess is a raccoon, or maybe a possum, came down a tree. But who knows. We don't have a CSI: Chicken Coop team. Emily, we hardly knew ye.

But today was a big day at the new homestead.

The metal roof is done. And I have to say, it looks fantastic. And it should be good for half a century or more. The roofers even replaced our skylights with more efficient ones for free. (I was going to tell him we didn't want to do the roof after all, so he threw in the skylights to get me to close the deal.)

The gutters and downspouts are done too. The installer was nice enough to notice one of my rain barrels, and set it up for me. Bonus!

And last but not least, the wood burning stove is in too. A week ahead of schedule. We're supposed to burn only small fires the first few times, so we did a little test fire tonight. The boys were fascinated, of course. I'm looking forward to getting the hang of it's nuances. I'm really looking forward to getting a real fire going.

No pictures because I leave when it's dark and I get home when it's nearly dark. Maybe I'll snap a couple tomorrow.

Good times...


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