Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Changing Times

The time has come where we all must start thinking about changing our ways. With the talk of gas being $10/ gallon in a few years and the electric companies warning of blackouts lasting several days John and I are seriously considering alternate ways. Above is a picture of a wood cook stove I would love to own. Something that is definitely on my "I want" list. I would be happy to get one from a camp or maybe I can get one at an antique shop. I'm in no hurry on this one but eventually I'd like one. So any of you Mainers reading this, if you see a good deal somewheres let me know. With the weather in Maine a wood cook stove could be run 9 months out of the year.

The two big investments that John and I are considering and researching are a wind mill and an outdoor wood furnace. I work with a man that has a windmill that makes 900kw/month. On average that is about what we'd use. Depending on the time of year we consume 550-1200.
He said installed his cost $15k but the actually windmill was about $5-7K, it was the installation that costs so much. Well you all know how handy dandy John is so we could do at a reasonable price I think if he did the installation.

Some may object to the thought of an outdoor wood furnace because they are known to be pollutants but I think what contributes to that is what some people burn in them. We have plenty of wood to burn so that would be what we are burning, not trash. And I cannot see that it is any worse than a wood stove. Regardless, I do have more research to do on this matter and maybe I can find an eco-friendly version. If we had a outdoor wood burner I could heat my house, my shed or a portion of the barn keeping my critters warmer, a greenhouse, and my hot water. I figure between gas for hot water and electricity with those two items alone we'd be saving about $300/ month and we would be less dependent on others to provide for us.
What do you think?

Amy at Twelve Acres and Don at A View From The Green Barn had some posts regarding what people are doing in these changing times. I did not respond on their posts because I knew that I planned to make a post about what we are doing so here goes? What are you doing?
I must say I do regret that I was not more mindful about the environment, reducing wastes, conservation, and self sufficiency in my twenties. I can say that buying this farm has been life changing for me and the rising prices of everything and maturing as I age has certainly contributed to me finally seeing the light.

*We recycle cans and glass bottles by reusing here on the farm, there are a million uses for them. I seem to never have enough now.

*Egg cartons we save and reuse.

* Scrap paper/newspaper when I buy it is reused for starting fires outdoors or in or is cut up as note paper.

* When I cook a meat (chicken/beef...whatever) I reuse the broth into soups.

* Save plastic bags and reuse as trash bags for bathroom trash can and for our compost bucket. John also is making a bow target out of the rest of the excess bags.

* We compost all vegetable/fruit scraps, coffegrinds, and egg shells

* After John bush hogs we rake up and pitch fork the downed hay for bedding/composting/mulch

* Give all the kids clothes/shoes that out grown to friends for their kids.

* Reduce electricity consumption by turning the lights off as much as possible and unplugging unused items. Also I've been hanging towels and blankets to dry i/o using the dryer. We use the A/C as little as possible and run only the one in the bedroom when someone is working nights and needs to get some daytime zzz's.

* I no longer grocery shop all in one store. I am more aware of the prices of items and buy more when things are on sale.

* We are raising some of our own meats, hope to get pigs next and we grow lots of vegetables and I am learning to do more food preservation. Next summer w will be getting milk from our goat Annabelle.

* John usually shots 2 deer/year. One with a bow and one with a rifle. That saves us a ton of money in beef. I am going to try harder this year to get one because we really do utilize the meat. We just ran out of hamburg from last fall.

* We are buying more products locally then from the big box stores.

* John saves us a TON of cash because he is such a handy man.

* We rarely eat out and I am making a lot more homemade goodies.

* We stay home often, there is plenty of fun and entertainment right here.

* I am sure there is more but I need to get a move on around the house this morning. The last thing I will mention is the gas preservation piece. We have 3 vehicles, all older and paid off thankfully. We rarely use our suburban, only if we have to haul something like the boat/shaving/farm supplies. We do not just run to town to pick one thing up, we make our trips worthwhile even though we are not far out. I work more locally now and if the kids are not with us with travel with our smallest vehicle that gets near 30mp gal.

To end with a big thanks to Farm Mom at Children in the Corn for the Awesome Blog award.
It means a lot especially for the Newbie to both the blogging and farming world. She too has an awesome blog that I learn so much from, thanks again!


Anonymous said...

you're welcome, and you deserve it! And look at list!! Very impressive. I find the more we make changes for the better, the more we want to, and the changing never ends.

Joy2bme said...

I would love to know how your husband is making a target out of the excess bags; my children would love that!

Carolyn said...

Just stopped by for a visit. I wanted to say Hi and Nice Blog.


Anonymous said...

Good for you folks for what you are doing to conserve more and consume less! Thanks also for all the good ideas!

goatgirl said...

You are doing a lot to conserve. Just being aware is a good start. We have been doing much of the same things. We have heated with wood forever. We are very good at using what people don't want. We call ourselves freegans. It is amazing what people will get rid of. And if we don't have the money for something we wait and save or do without. My hubby is better at this than I am but thank goodness because we have very little debt. The wood cookstove is beautiful and I'm sure before too long we will be reading a post about the one you bought.

Country Girl said...

You are right Farm Mom!

Joy2beme, thanks for stopping in and adding to my comments! My husband is filling a burlap bag full of the plastic bags. He read somewheres that it makes a good bow target.

Carolyn thanks for saying hello, I will be over to visit your blog as well.

Coastrat thanks we are trying, we have lots more work to do.

Your right, being aware is where it all starts! Last year was our first year heating with wood and it was a good feeling but more work than I anticipated. I'd say we are freegans too. I take anything half decent that anyone wants to get rid of. We have only bought one couch ever new and that was at a bargain type store. There are very few appliances/furniture in our house that were purchased brand new.
We can't afford nor do we want to keep up with the Jones. The cook stove I am not in the immediate market for but I will keep my eyes open for a good deal or a freebie.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to have a windmill too. We are also going to install a woodburner in the near future. We have to heat with propane out here in the boondocks. I'm just glad we haven't had to use the furnace for months. I'm not looking forward to those propane bills again!

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere (I think) that wood burning causes a lot of smoke (of course) but that the particulate matter is heavy and low and so comes back to the ground and is absorbed easily. Coal fired plants and the like eject "the stuff" up higher and that is the pollution that causes the real damage. Just a thought

Anonymous said...

Nice blog! We raise Mini-Nubian goats.

Mandie said...

We are new to the conservation world. As we grow older we learn more and realize more. We do most of the same things your family does.

We use wood heat
We compost
I have been saving cans to make a scarecrow out of for the garden
Save class jars for greese or anything liquid for saving
recycle plastic bags by using them for trash or taking them back to Wal-Mart
We use fabric bags when we remember
Love garage sales
Turn the heat up in the summer and down in the winter
In the winter we like to use a lantern at the dinner table instead of the light
We love to be given things, our toys out back are from neighbors and family
Husband reuses lumber to make me a fence for the garden and a potting table

I love to read your post to get ideas. There are sooo many great blogs out there with great information. I love decorating blogs but find myself loving the self sufficiency ones better. I have always loved homesteading and find that as I get older my dreams are coming true! Thanks for all of the great ideas and inspiration.

goatgirl said...

You are right, heating with wood is a lot of work. I keep reminding hubby I'm not as young as I used to be. He says, "Keep stacking"

Country Girl said...

Amy, propane is costly too. We use it to heat our hot water and cook with and I'd like to be less dependent of that.
Warren, thanks for the info.
Amy, you have mini Nubians, now I'm envious! Thanks for stopping and and leaving a comment.
Mandie, you are doing lots to. I like yard sales too and thrift shops.
Goat Girl, wood is lots of work. Someone said to me yesterday that when you cut wood it makes heat several times. It took me a minute than I got it. When your cutting it down, hauling it, splitting and stacking and then finally when you burn it.
Have a great weekend all! ~Kim

Anonymous said...

How I did my blogroll:

You can go to Dashboard or customize and click on layout and click on add page elements and a pop-up will come up and then click on blog list and click on add to blog, then add the url's that you want to add to your blog list.

Don said...

I would love to have a wind generator. I read about someone in France who is marketing them for around $500.00. I need to start really researching. I like what T. Boone Pickens is pushing with the wind power.

The wood stove is a great idea. Nice connection to our great-grandparents.

Anonymous said...

Kim, you will like a wood cookstove if you get one. Ours heats half our old house, and I can cook on it too. Our woodburning furnace is plumbed to heat our hot water. During the summer months we do heat our water with electricity, so we aren't wasting wood.
The reason outdoor woodburning furnaces get such a bad pollution rap, is because people tend to burn wood that isn't cured properly in them. This causes quite a bit of smoke and creosote. When you have woodstoves in your home, you risk chimney fires if you burn improperly cured wood, so people figure they don't have to worry if the stove is outside and they just get lazy and throw any old wood they find in them. Not a good idea.
Great list, and congrats on your award.

citygirl said...

I hear you, I wasted a lot of disposable income in my twenties...

Here is what we are doing...

1. The 3 R's.

2. Debt reduction.

3. Bike or walk whenever possible. Drive auto slower and less often.

4. Installed pellet stove this spring. (thankfully before they became the hot, hard to get a hold of item this summer)

5. Installation of solar hot water tubes coming soon! (between pellet stove and solar tubes hoping to burn no more than 100 gallons of fuel oil maximum this year...vs. 1100-1200 gallons normally)

6. Installation of reversible ceiling fans in all bedrooms and living spaces to circulate heat in winter, cool air in summer.

7. Insulation of hot water pipes to reduce heat loss.

My next project is to replace our washer and dryer with a front loading set to further reduce our water and electric consumption...but I am going to have to work some overtime first! CASH POLICY here now.

We hope to pay off enough of our home equity in the next year so that we can place solar PV panels on the roof next year.

Congratulations on another blog award have quite a following now! I am totally impressed!

Unknown said...

Here in se BC we have a 1886 woodstove that we use every day for cooking and part heating. It is the heart of our home.

Would you reconsider your policy of "buy more when things are on sale. and shopping at big box stores"?

While in the short term it may save you money, this mode of shopping offers very little support to small store owners and small scale food producers. And when the big box stores have undercut every small, local producer and the cost of gas forces us to source more locally where will we find food and supplies?

Country Girl said...

Amy, we heat our hot water with propane and it is costly!
Amy, thanks I did the blog roll. HUGE time saver!!!
Don, $500, what his name and number???
Nita, that is great I wish we had a wood boiler but I'm just happy to have a wood stove at this point.
City Girl, You have really come a long way..I'm impressed. Thanks for sharing the list.
Eva, that is cool an 1886 cookstove. I am keeping my eyes open for one. When I say stock up I do not mean by that much and I do try to by more local. I'm getting there!

moi said...

Country Girl and her Maine Man; Congratulation on the "birth" of your blog "Achorn Farm"; your creativity; interests; hobbies; the kids; animals; farm; resources; to mention a few. Your devotion to one another is heartwarming, inspiring and setting a positive example for your kids that will be treasured all their lives. Your on the right path. Keep up the good work... unc bob