January 31, 2012

Frozen Pipes and Beef Jerky

Ugh. The pipe that supplies the washing machine is frozen - again.

I suppose I could use that as a legitimate excuse for not doing laundry, but being that I haven't caught up on all the laundry that accumulated while we were sick - burying the laundry room, covering bathroom floors, kicked under children's beds... Well, let's just say I'm not sure we could go more than a day without washing at least a load or two,  lest my children go naked.

Naked? Oh, could we, please?

Okay. That's an exaggeration. They wouldn't necessarily be naked. I'm sure they could find something to wear, although, taking the kids grocery shopping draped in tablecloths, or better yet, random items from the box of dress-up, might raise a few eyebrows.

We're ready to go, Mom.
So, I'll warm the pipe, thaw it out, try once again to better insulate it, and get that washer going.

Thank God it has been a milder winter. It's given us the chance to find and fix the trouble spots in our farmhouse before we have to face the kind of winter old-timers gleefully describe to newbies just to watch their jaws drop.

(This should be read with a slightly wavering, high pitched, old person voice.) "Why, I remember a winter so cold we had to bring the cows into the house to thaw them out before we could milk them. Of course all they gave that winter was ice cream..."

There is another reason to be thankful for milder weather. We are still learning the ins and outs of keeping our house heated with one of these:

Isn't it beautiful?.

We encountered them only after moving here. The first time I saw smoke billowing out of one I thought someone's shed was on fire. After driving past several other houses with these smoking sheds and a complete absence of firetrucks, or at the very least alarmed people running around with garden hoses and water buckets, we realized they were smoking on purpose.

Our next theory? Everyone around here owned their own smokehouse. You know, for smoking meats? "Maybe folks around here just can't get enough beef jerky." An excusable theory to be sure because, and I say this with all love, you know how some people are... in Wisconsin.

Well, it turned out they were not smokehouses after all, but outdoor wood furnaces. Holy smokes, Batman!

See. Wood goes in here and gets all burned up.

If only we had marshmallows.

This heats up water that surrounds the firebox. The hot water hurries through an underground pipe to our basement where it runs into a heat exchanger thingy. Then a giant fan pushes all that lovely heat through vents all over our house making us nice and toasty. I know!

If my overly technical explanation has gone over your head, and you are still a little fuzzy on the whole thing, you can follow this little link here to the website of one company that makes these wood furnaces. They have pictures, too.

How do we like it so far? Being that I personally don't go out very often to chop wood, nor venture out to load the furnace with said wood in the morning and again just before bed, well, I love it! Most of the time the job falls to Matt and Annie. Neither of them complain about it, and Annie loves to tell me how much more wood she can lift now compared with when we first bought the thing. All in all, we are pleased.

Our one true disappointment? You can't make beef jerky in it. Not to worry. Just this evening I caught Matt drawing out plans to build his very own smokehouse.

Don't let Frank hear you!

Keep warm, my friends!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Entertaining AND informative...Love the pictures! My grandchildren are so beautiful!