Being here in the farmhouse, we have a whole bunch of lifestyle changes. From roosters occasionally coming into the house (our preschooler is a poultry smuggler unmatched in these parts) to goats climbing on our shoulders to abandoning our dependence on the big oil companies for our heat and hot water…. there are good things and new things everywhere I turn.
When we saw that this house had a wood boiler (and a backup oil furnace… but we don’t plan to use that at all), it was a very interesting idea that we could use wood exclusively to heat not only the house but the barn as well. My first thought was financial, and it definitely is a savings. Especially because we purchase tree-length wood. As the budget-chick at the homestead, I am all about staying toasty for less. But I’ve come to appreciate wood heat for a number of other reasons as well.
The smell of wood smoke in the chilly air is so quintessentially cozy and old fashioned. Nothing conveys a sense of warmth and comfort like a wood fire.
Getting outside together as a family and stacking up the (seemingly endless mountain of) wood under the barn-side overhang is a pretty cool, old-school chore. We’re working side by side, out in the fresh air, and – bonus – it’s not a shabby workout for those of us who don’t super-love the idea of going to the gym. We’ve had some talks about the “old days” while out stacking up the split logs. And it definitely feels like a connection to our history to be doing this work. It’s another way to stay slowed down, un-distracted, in the moment.
My favorite part of using wood to heat our home is something I never anticipated at all. I felt so cranky every time I paid my gigunda oil bill in the past. But when a truck hauling 10 cord of wood drives out into the paddock, and a man who’s working and living right here in my community climbs out and begins the unloading of trees, I know my heating money is going to a local family and is having a positive impact right here in Maine. The man we buy wood from is a hard worker who, if anything, errs on the side of being generous with his measure. I think most of us want to decrease our dependence on foreign oil, and for me, I feel so encouraged to know that in this small way, I can support local business and also save money and have a cozy house all winter! (That’s a win-win-win.)
This year we are really late getting our wood cut and stacked, since we didn’t move in until fall. We had our first snow this weekend! A little dusting on Saturday with more snow yesterday. We hung our lights on Friday. The farmhouse, usually not visible from the road at night, is shimmering now, up on its little hill. The back deck is strung with sparkling lights we enjoy at our pre-dawn coffee date in the back of the house, which is almost all windows.
The chickens are having fun pecking their scratch off the heavy snow blanketing their run.
The goats haven’t gone out yet, because I wasn’t sure until now that the wet snow is ok for their hooves. I know mud isn’t good for them and had to check about this, novice goat owner that I am! My grandmother has offered to teach me to knit (and sew!), so I’m preparing to make some cute farmhouse-tastic burlap valances for the kitchen windows and then promptly begin knitting, in order that I may one day be someone who can “whip up” a goat sweater or two. And somehow or another I have become a girl who springs instantly to mind when any of my Facebook friends sees livestock knitwear online. My wall is peppered with photos of goat and chicken sweaters. I am getting inspired, y’all! Much to my husband’s dismay. I think he was hoping that my little Papillon, Fifi (may she rest in peace), would be the first and last fancy-sweater-wearing animal he would need to endure. But really…. I read today that goats do sometimes need a sweater. So that’s totally legit, right?