Last night was the first since sometime in the fall that we were able to leave the heat off in the house all night. Noteworthy, in my opinion, because this winter has been unusually cold and wet for Eastern NC and it has reflected in our heating costs this season. Ouch. We cringed and cried a little each time we saw the gas man back into our driveway to fill up our enormous tank, and he was counting dollar signs with a smile because he has to know that our 1800s farm house is uninsulated. Yep, you read that right... uninsulated.
Unfortunately there is not much we can do about that at the moment. Because of "fireboards" in our walls (horizontal boards placed between studs at random intervals to help lessen the spread of fire... or at least that was the theory way back when these old houses were built), we are unable to have insulation blown into the walls. Our only option is to completely destroy and remove the original plaster walls from the inside (umm, no thanks) or painstakingly removed the original exterior clapboard wood siding, one board at a time, and piece in insulation, followed by replacing the boards. Yeah, that's not happening either on a house this size. It'd be cheaper and less time consuming to level this old house and build a new one. So, chilly winters it is.
Something's gatta change though, and we're weighing our options carefully. Our current plans, as we can afford them, include sealing in the original (and drafty) windows in the front of the house with plexiglass so that we can preserve them, and removing and installing new windows in the back of the house (since they are no where near as old, but equally as drafty). That in itself will hopefully help a lot.
Another idea we are bouncing around is finding a woodstove and locating in centrally in the house. We have six fireplaces, and none of them are functioning, but we hope we can salvage one of the center chimneys to work safely with a woodstove. Then we can use it to offset our reliance on gas heat from the central system we had put in when we bought this place six and a half years ago. Lots of investigating and learning to do in this area...
In other news:
- Our gardens are being prepared for spring planting, my seedlings are emerging, and we've even expanded the beds to make better use of the space. I've been employing a couple chickens each day to scratch and pick through the beds, removing bugs and seeds.
- We scored two chicken coops and a bunch of chain link fencing (complete with poles, top rails, all the clips and two gates) off Craigslist for less that what the materials themselves would have cost us, not to mention the time that The Boy was going to have to spend building the new chicken yard this spring. One of the coops is older, but perfectly functioning, and the other coop doesn't appear to have ever been used. We're going to modify them slightly, but not much work at all, and then they will be ready for our new chickens that we'll be adding to the existing flock this year. We should be picking up the new chicks around the first or second week of March. They'll live inside the house in our brooder for several weeks before transitioning outside. I'm ready for chick season!
- We are contemplating a big website overhaul, and possibly moving it to a new host. Hopefully these plans will be finalized soon so we can move forward on this project. Unfortunately for the site/blog, we've been distracted by the sunshine and warm weather outside and leaving our laptops behind. Both The Boy and I agree, though, that we need to allot more time to the site as well as change things up a little. More to come on that subject, obviously.
Thats about it for the time being. After a productive morning, The Boy has just escaped to a bike race and I am going to soak up the sun while reading a good book I grabbed at the library the other day (Homestead: Modern Pioneers Pursuing the Edge of Possibility by Jane Kirkpatrick). We both have tomorrow off from work so we'll use the time to continue working outside while the weather is cooperating so well. We've spent enough time locked up in the house this winter...