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Quote of the Day: Farmer Boy

March 10th, 2013

“A farmer depends on himself, and the land and the weather. If you’re a farmer, you raise what you eat, you raise what you wear, and you keep warm with wood out of your own timber. You work hard, but you work as you please, and no man can tell you to go or come. You’ll be free and independent, son, on a farm.”

Father to Almanzo (Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder)

Mr Chiots and I aren’t farmers, but we can certainly appreciate this quote and what it means.  Even gardening on a small scale can bring a sense of freedom and independence.  Here in Maine, we also heat with wood, which is a wonderful thing. There’s no paying the propane, natural gas, or heating oil bill.  The electric bill is smaller and the house is cozier.
splitting wood 4
When you heat with wood, there’s a lot of work involved. Our splitter just arrived this week, so we’re now madly splitting wood in preparation for next winter.

splitting wood 6
splitting wood 8
Yesterday was spent splitting a big pile of wood, today we’ll do the same.  We both work on splitting, loading and unloading the truck. These are the kinds of chores that are better when shared.  We started around noon and were able to split three truckloads.  Hopefully tomorrow we can do even more.
splitting wood 2
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splitting wood 1
It’s good to know that we’ll be warm and toasty all winter regardless of how full our propane tank is.  We really love heating with wood, there’s nothing quite like standing next to a warm wood burner on a cold winter morning. Not to mention, Dexter wouldn’t know what to do without a warm wood burner to sleep in front of!

What method of heat do you use in your house? 

20 Comments to “Quote of the Day: Farmer Boy”
  1. Crinia on March 10, 2013 at 5:48 am

    We burn wood for our heating and the stove also has a jacket that heats the hot water. In summer when the fire is not required the hot water has a solar booster.

    Reply to Crinia's comment

    • Susy on March 10, 2013 at 7:51 am

      Our big wood furnace also has a hot water heater feature. Our wood burner does not. We’re thinking about solar hot water heat.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  2. whit on March 10, 2013 at 6:31 am

    We traded in an all electric heat house for wood heat and propane stoves last year, and it isn’t as bad as we thought. The bedrooms and bathroom have wall heater though, so we can spot heat and turn the propane stove down at night.

    Can’t wait to convert this puppy to solar someday!

    Reply to whit's comment

  3. kristin @ going country on March 10, 2013 at 7:00 am

    The forced-air furnace runs on heating oil. There are electric space heaters in the bathroom and the baby’s bedroom. There’s a propane heater in the kitchen. And of course, we use the woodstove constantly. And we’re still not exactly tropical in here.

    The joys of an old house.

    A. is working on an outdoor woodburner to use in conjunction with the forced-air system next winter though, so maybe we’ll be using even more wood soon.
    kristin @ going country´s last post ..GO!

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  4. kathi Cook on March 10, 2013 at 7:47 am

    Oil unfortunately, but we are getting a new furnace and may convert to natural gas. Our old victorian is drafty and difficult to heat. Our cat sleeps up against the old cast iron radiators all winter (when he is not laying across my keyboard).

    Reply to kathi Cook's comment

  5. Jennifer Fisk on March 10, 2013 at 7:51 am

    I have a glass front wood stove in my family room which also heats the dining room, kitchen, half bath and laundry room. I absolutely love sitting there in the dark of winter watching the fire. That picture makes up for the lack of sunlight from Nov-March. I have an oil fired furnace on two zones to heat the rest of the house to somewhere between 45-58. The wood heat is soooo much cozier.

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

  6. Eliza J on March 10, 2013 at 8:33 am

    We heat primarily with wood and have a backup forced hot air unit that runs on propane. Our water is heated with propane. We only fill our tank once a year on schedule, and we have never needed a complete fill. Cozy is a great word to describe the feeling of wood heat, there is nothing like it. It warms up you and your surroundings…love it!

    Reply to Eliza J's comment

  7. amy on March 10, 2013 at 8:46 am

    Our main source of heat is our ginormous woodstove…..but we also have other options. We have a propane mounted unit and an edenpure we just bought this year. Like Kathi our house is big…..It is a federal with high ceilings and big rooms. We have several ceiling fans that move the heat around but there is relatively no insulation but the “three brick thick” idea. There is a fireplace in every room but they are useless. There is no heat like wood heat! The old saying goes…..It heats you up three times…..once when you cut it….once when you split and stack it…..and…once when you burn it:)

    Reply to amy's comment

  8. K.B. on March 10, 2013 at 8:52 am

    Natural gas furnace, which has to stay, unfortunately, as the plumbing runs through the crawl space, which is now both insulated and heated. Broken pipes in winter, in a space that is literally a crawl space (less than 2′ high) is not something I want to ever deal with.

    I do have a fireplace (not working, cracked firebox) which I hope to convert to a wood burning stove one of these days. It’s on the to-do list…
    K.B.´s last post ..2013 Garden Seed List

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  9. Joan on March 10, 2013 at 9:20 am

    We heat with wood, sun and propane. The newer part of our house (and where we spend 99% of our time is super-insulated,so we only burn about a cord and a half of wood a year. It also is oriented to take advantage of the sun in the winter, so many days we don’t need to light the fire at all and if we do light a fire it usually is only for an hour or so in the morning or evening.

    My husband has his office in the above ground basement, and we have propane-powered radiant heat down there. It is primarily heated through passive solar though.

    We are not happy with our propane water heater – even though it is an efficient one, it uses much more propane than we think it should. We need to look at alternatives – either solar or an on-demand heater.

    Reply to Joan's comment

    • Susy on March 10, 2013 at 10:14 am

      We have an on demand hot water heater and love it. In the winter the water also runs through our wood furnace, so if we’re heating with wood the propane doesn’t kick on. We’d like to look into solar hot water as well, that way we wouldn’t be using propane in the summer.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Eliza J on March 10, 2013 at 1:49 pm

        The on demand water heater sounds wonderful ~ I’ll have to ask my husband about it! Wish we had the correct exposure for solar …

        to Eliza J's comment

  10. Deb on March 10, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Use only a woodburner in our dining room to heat 1-1/2 stories. Its a rectangular airtight that can burn coal but we get wood free from my parents’ small woods. Have used the same stove all 19 winters here. Can heat food on top but not really cook as it’s not hot enough. Teakettles provide hot water for tea and chocolate. We have propane hot water, dryer and kitchen range. we wewre prepared for Y2K. Last summer we cut for 2-3 yrs. but I want to go and get more this summer. Something tells me to keep cutting and splitting. Dad has a tractor where his woods is, he doesn’t live there now, so we split in the woods and then stack our 3/4 ton truck to about 2 tons and when we say we have a laod we do. If we had a woods like you do I’d have an outdoor stove to do the trick for us. it must be wonderful to cut wood from your own property. My dream that will never materialize but I’m good with cleaning the dead stuff from mom and dad’s woods.Nothing better than wood heat. In 30 winters of being married all except 4 have been with wood heat. Nothing better for drying wet gloves, boots, shoes, and just reg. clean clothes. We have a perpetual drying rack across the room for drying clothes. We heat LR, DR, sunroom, kitchen, 2 bedrooms, and 2 baths down and 3 bedrooms upstairs pretty good. Cats love sitting in front of it too.

    Reply to Deb's comment

  11. Ann on March 10, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Our primary heat is wood. I love the quality of the heat but it can get a bit messy around the stove as my DH refuses to use our wood rack that sits near by. I think we need a mason to come in and fashion a brick hearth and wall behind the stove with a built in wood rack. We may have something of this sort done when we have new tile floors laid in the kitchen/dining room/entryway. Meanwhile I just sweep up the bits of wood every day from the floor.

    We also have 1 wall mounted propane heater as a back up. Our central heat & air system had a failure this year during the summer. It was either pay 350.00 to fix it totally or have a board bypassed and just get the a/c back working. Since we have these other ways to heat the house we went with the board by-passing option and now the central heat does not work. We figure the entire unit will probably need replaced in the next few years and when it does, we may just have split units installed in separate ends of the house.

    We are also exploring the option of solar on the roof. We have the perfect house and location for it but we will want to put on a new roof first and we want that to be metal which will mean with the roof and solar that it will be a large expense. But the solar guy said we would recoup our solar expenses in about 10 years and that is at today’s electricity prices. If they continue to go up then the payoff would be sooner.

    Reply to Ann's comment

    • Susy on March 10, 2013 at 10:16 am

      We’re kind of in the same boat with solar, we’d love to put it in, but figure we should wait until we redo the roof, so I guess it might be a few years.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Deb on March 10, 2013 at 4:20 pm

        Wish they’d make soalr that worked on shingles. We won’t need to redo the house for quite a few years.

        to Deb's comment

  12. Mich on March 10, 2013 at 10:17 am

    We run a log burner in the lounge 24/7 in the winter which keeps us busy splitting & stacking wood, pollarding willows for future years heat supply.
    I intend to reopen a closed chimney in the hallway and put in another woodburner maybe one with a little oven.
    The kitchen is kept warmish by my oil fired aga; I know its not the ‘greenist’ of items but I love cooking on it and its like the heart of the home in the winter months.

    Reply to Mich's comment

  13. judym on March 10, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    When we first built our house, we had a wood/coal burning furnace. And we have a big fireplace in the familly room. We had to buy the wood and coal – for a while it was fairly cheap. Then it got really expensive for us to buy. So we now have gas heating (so sad.). But I like it while it lasted. We wanted to do solar as well. Still thinking on that one – maybe a small panel to meet a few of our needs. How fun would it be to keep the chicken coop cozy in the winter with solar panels? It’s a step in the right direction!

    Reply to judym's comment

  14. Maybelline on March 10, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    We have 2 fireplaces but there are restrictions here in the San Joaquin Valley due to bad air. So, whenever we need heat (rarely) we use a gas heater.
    Maybelline´s last post ..Orchard Update

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  15. Amy Svob on March 10, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    we built our home 7 years ago with trying to be economical. we installed what looks like a fireplace but is actually a woodburner. We’re able to heat our 1 1/2 story home by using it. We also have a heat pump on AC unit and on demand water heater. Our utilities here in the midwest in the wintertime average $100 so not too shabby with 1800 sq ft. I don’t think my husband used his splitter once this winter. We had so much wood leftover from our last mild winter and still have plenty for next year. We cut wood for our home and my mother in laws home too.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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