Thursday, February 5, 2009

Urban Winter

Some where under neath all that snow is my flower garden.
It has been bitterly cold for a very long time here in Western New York. Normally we only have to suffer though two or three weeks of temps in the 20's and below. This Winter it has been a good portion of December, along with the majority of January.
Despite night time temps of zero or near zero we've been good about keeping the furnace set on 64 degrees when everyone is home from work & school.
During the day when it's only me @ home I keep it on 54 since I'm sleeping (night worker) under 6 or more covers.
Fleece P.J.'s and a lined hoodie. Two pairs of wool hunting socks. Knit hat. And sometimes cotton gloves. Needless to say as I get older I grow colder.

So far the heating bill (natural gas 80% efficiency furnace) has been $100 ish to $160 this Winter. This also includes the hot water tank which is 8 y.o. set @ 125 degrees. Our area had an increase in the cost of natural gas earlier in the fall.
New to the on going saga of installing a wood stove is that we finally have all but 2 pieces to complete the class B stove pipe (buying parts on discount as fiances allow). That's the part of the pipe that will be on the outside of the house. Left to buy is the fireproof backer board for the hearth, grout to lay the hearth tiles we bought last Summer, and well the stove & inside stove pipe.

My heart has been set on a Morso Classic that has an upper chamber shaped like an arch. I have only seen one online so once I'm actually get up close & personal could all change.

The second choice is a Jotul black bear model.

Goal is to only heat half of the house at one time with wood heat. If we tried for more we wouldn't be able to use the room the stove was installed in not to mention that is alot of firewood to find & store. Learning curve remembering to open up the bedrooms to allow the heat to rise before we need them to be warm.
In addition to installing the whole stove set up we will also have to rehab a spare door close off the stairs. Depending on how well that goes then I'd like to put back the pocket doors that once closed off the living room or parlor.

Urban Pantry Challenge - To be truthful it's not going as well as my reality depicted it (stop laughing my husband!). But it has kicked my butt into high gear to be more resourceful.
One example is to use more of our whole wheat that we grind in everything that would normally call for white flour. So far we have been making from scratch one egg cake recipes with 1/3 of the cake flour replaced with whole wheat.

So this month I bought a pound of German bologna for school lunches, bacon that was price as a bogo (thinking of making German potato salad & quiches) , gallon of 2% milk on sale $1.99 and 5 dozen eggs (79¢ per doz) @ my local mega mart on the 2nd.
On the 4th at Aldis I bought a bag of brown sugar, bag of raw baby carrots (fav of DD 14) and two bags of tortilla chips for nachos.
Yesterday we bartered freshly ground rye flour for organic grapefruit & oranges. The rye berries were bought last year or so for $50 a bushel, certified organic. Needless to say I still have about half a bushel left.
DH also bought two pounds of Italian sausage & ground beef from the butcher. I'll have to wait to post what he spent there.

Lessons learned - research making whole wheat tortillas and work up some bartering ops.

Neglectful in mentioning that a few months back DH made this for me in an afternoon out of scraps. The roof is plastic as is the corner in the center of the pic, allowing sunlight. We place a scrap piece of plywood over the opening to block wind at night.
There is also a huge pile of hay inside the metal cage that this doe has made into a burrow.

Senior Cottontail doe (mixed breed) in her store bought hutch. DH made me this nest box outta scraps.
Hard to see but the 3 open sides of the hutch have hard plastic screwed on to block the wind. The plastic is florescent light panel covers.

This hutch rests on bricks over one of the raised beds bunny poo for the garden.
It's been a challenge keeping her nest box stuffed with bedding as she loves to chew it up & move it out.

While my daughter's have been enjoying this Winter with sledding @ local city & county parks along with a Church Sponsored Winter retreat out in the wilds of Wyoming County, I haven't had the energy nor time to venture outside our backyard. Working 5 to 7 nights in a row has really sucked the life outta me. Hard to put my foot down in light of our current economic climate.
Good news is that we have been making very good headway on paying down our debt and affording home improvements.
Eventual goal is to not have a mortgage.

~~ pelenaka ~~

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Thanks, good to know there are other's with this interest