Rough Start to 2012

Somehow, you just know that having firemen at your house is not a good thing.  Especially when you have to call them in a panic.  Yeah.  Not the best way to start out a nice bright new year.

And when you don’t have any water because your well needs repair, that is a bit of a drag as well.  Especially when you need to call firemen to your house and all you have a jugs of water because your well needs repair.

But all in all, things turned out okay and you know that you are watched over when things turn out to be tolerably unfortunate instead of really unfortunate and requiring benefits and hotel stays.

Our corn stove caught on fire today.  This afternoon.  And the weird thing, the best thing is that both Maggie and Jessy have bad colds and we had to cancel their trip to Grandmas up in Michigan.  We would have been gone when it caught on fire, and instead, we were here, able to respond and save the house.

Not sure what happened.  It has been running great, a little touchy and something you have to babysit a bit, lug the big bags and keep clean and all, but we just had it cleaned and serviced a week before Christmas and all systems were A-OK and a go.

The fire died out sometime in the night, and that was weird, because it had a full tank of pellets and was doing fine.  I was going to restart it but we only had these nasty little starter squares that didn’t work very well.  I tried, but it just smoked out and died, so I waited a bit until Jessy had some packages for me to take to the post office and I went to town to get the good fire starters from the local hardware store.  (Oh yeah, and some donuts from the gas station, they have the BEST donuts in the world and we were hankering for a good donut….)

Well, I got back, settled in and tried to start the dang thing back up.  Got the fire in the box going good, sprinkled in a few pellets like you should and closed it up, turned on the stove so that it would start blowing as soon as it reached the proper temperature.  Like I always did.  Sat down to work at my office computer, which is about 10 feet or so from it and was texting Rob about some business stuff.

Well, all the sudden, I notice the thing is smoking like nuts.  I call Jessy to help me fan some of the smoke and I open the porch door that is right there and try and figure out what is going on, and then I notice it’s smoking out of the hopper in the back.  That is weird.  I open up the hatch and all the sudden, flames leap out and start this heavy brownish weird smoke that feels dreadful in your lungs and makes you want to throw up…  I had my phone in my pocket and I start yelling for the girls to get the critters and shoes on, and I got a jug of water to try and snuff out the flames.  I also yank the cord from the plug so we’re not dealing with an electrical fire as well!

Oh yeah, and I call 911.  Out here it takes them a bit to get assembled and here.  We learned that with our little false alarm back in the summer.  It’s all volunteers and even though the fire station is a half a mile down our street, you have to wait for them to come off their farms and get there to come to you!  The house was filling with smoke so fast and I could hardly stand to be there, coughing and gagging as we grabbed Edward, the guinea pig, and dashed for the door.

Thankfully the dogs were already outside and Jessy was calling kitties and shoving them out the mud room door.  Maggie had thrown a coat over the little chickens, hoping to keep the smoke out of their aquarium!  (They are ok!)

Alvordton’s finest were there pretty darn quick, within 5 minutes, and they quickly assessed the situation.  The stove was no longer flaming, just smoking, and they doused it a bit more and then the three of them hefted that bad boy up and out the front porch door to sit smoldering and dejected in the front yard.  Tipped.  On it’s side and dead.  Very sad looking.

They hooked up their big suction fans and got the house vented out really fast.  Those things are impressive.  They began to investigate the stove and could find nothing really wrong, the exhaust pipe was not clogged or anything, the stove inside was clean, it just back drafted for some weird reason and caught that hopper on fire!

The girls were safe in the car, with Ed and after a little while, it was safe to go back in.  All I could think about was that we were supposed to be gone today.  The girls were going with their Dad to visit their grandparents up in Detroit, but they are both feeling super yucky from bad colds.  I was going to take them into Toledo and spend the afternoon doing some errands and such, so I would have been gone as well. I drove home last night and there was a dreadful fire just past the next town, a farm went up and they had to call trucks and men from 4 surrounding villages/towns to deal with it.  It closed off a major part of the road and it was really bad.  Fire is nothing to shrug off as being no big deal.  I am so thankful that we were here and we weren’t sleeping or gone.  It could have been sooooo much worse.

So, now, we’re out our major heating source for the farmhouse.  Not especially a good thing, but a tolerable thing.  We have a variety of smaller room heaters and a nice Eden-pure clone that works wonderfully.  And of course, our trusty little kerosene heater.  Which we are super super careful with.  We don’t leave it running when we are sleeping, never.  Makes for chilly mornings, but after today, I’m even more convinced that I really don’t want flames in our home.

I think what bums me out the most about this, is not the loss of the stove or the experience, but that it was disappointing to go through all these motions to try and do something a little off the norm and find it was a little harder than all the people like to preach.  I found the corn stove to be a delightful warm heat, but it was touchy.  You had to devote more time to keeping it running nicely, then say, turning the dial on your gas furnace thermostat.  There was the cleaning of the klinkers and the lugging of those big bags and just an overall effort that was tolerable some times and then slightly annoying day in and day out.  It was work.  More work than I was used to.  All my life, I’ve had regular, conventional heating sources.  Easy, rarely failing, expensive at times and just there.  Ready.

But I wanted to do something different, to think differently, act differently.  Thousands of people have these stoves and they work just fine.  Just like thousands have furnaces, too.  But things fail, and you’ll probably never really know the reason.  Nothing is fool-proof.  And we gave it a try.

I’ll admit, at this point, I’m not interested in going back to one.  Just too much fussing.  And in retrospect, they still need electricity and they are expensive to service and repair.  I suppose, so are gas furnaces.  I think that eventually, I will look into a very simple cast iron stove as a backup sustainable heating source to try next year.  Simple.  Put wood in, warm up an area.  No fans, no sensors, no this or that technology to it.  Just wood, fire, ash, warmth.  I realize they come with their own fussy nature as well, but I think I can deal with that.

And in the meanwhile, I’ll be looking for one more radiant electric heater to help balance out the place from the lack of the corn stove.  Just don’t have the funds to run out and buy a furnace.  Just the way it is.  We’re pretty toasty in our various areas, zone heating is pretty efficient.  And so is layering.  And thankfully, the house was super insulated before it was foreclosed on, so it’s really not too bad, even without heat.

And we don’t have to worry about the pipes bursting, because…  we don’t have any water at the moment.

(Did I mention this was a rough start to the new year????)

Well, the night before Christmas, all through the house, the toilet stopped working,  no faucet would douse….

Haha… okay, I’m no poet.  But yes, we woke up and oddly, there was no water.  Hmmm.   We checked to see if a breaker for the pump had been thrown.  Nothing.  Checked to see if we had pipes frozen, nope.  Fiddled around and finally called our hero, Jr., to take a peak.  He found that our pressure switch on the air tank was really corroded, and suspected that was the issue.  Got a new one, just $20 and installed it.  Nothing.  Hmmm…

Wasn’t about to call a plumber on Christmas Eve… so we toughed it out a day or two, with stored water and then filling up some jugs at the neighbors.  Called the plumber first of the week and got the bad news.  Our well was shorting out.  The wiring in our deep submersible pump in our well had somehow giving out and was making a circuit connection with the steel casing of our well shaft.  Hmmm.  He said it looked like it hadn’t been touched for 20+ years, which he thought was good, since, that is a long time, but then bad, because, well, the wiring would have to be replaced and possibly the pump.  He wasn’t licensed for pump work and called the only ones in the county.  I spent some time on the phone with them and of course, they want to pull the pump and replace it, and the wiring and can’t give me an estimate because there are too many variables, but it’s at least $500 and probably more like a $1000 to start with.

Hmmm.  Santa didn’t leave us anything like that, and even though we just came off our busy season, we had used most of that windfall to pay off our bills, do a few projects on the farm, finish out living room, holiday gifts, stocked the panty, fixed the car, that kind of stuff.  I thought we were doing good with like a grand left, to get us through the next couple weeks when sales drop to ZIP for a while.

Needless to say, I didn’t call them right out.  There is a artesian spring down the road and you can fill up jugs of pure clean amazing water.  Free.  Everyone does it.  The farm it’s on, they don’t mind.  So, we have been going down there every couple days and filling up all our jugs and such.  We have gone to the neighbors a time or two, they don’t mind at all, but to be honest, the spring is on our flight plan often, and it’s kind of fun, in a weird “little house on the prairie” sort of way.  The girls don’t mind at all.

Washing is done the old fashioned way, and we are using it to flush, that kind of thing.  If we are careful, we can get by with 7 gallons a day.  Including the livestock.  If we are doing a bit more washing and such, 10 will do us.  It’s really making me understand that in a true emergency SHTF sort of scenario, water is the most important commodity.  You can have a year’s worth of food stashed but do you have 3,000 gallons of water?  Nope.  That couple gallon jugs and a 5 gallon thing or two ain’t going to last you a few days, let alone a week.  And if you don’t have a pond or lake nearby, you’re in tough straights.

A couple of nights ago, while I was thinking about the well, and before the stove fire, I was getting a little upset.  I just didn’t know much about wells, and felt a little over the barrel, so to speak.  I didn’t like being told that I only had one option and it was to pay a bunch of money.  So I started to do a little research.  I mean, what exactly is involved with a deep well pump and pulling them.  It’s just a hole in the ground, about 6 inches in diameter.  And the pump just hangs there, attached to a hose or PVC pipe down.  Okay, I get it, wet, cold, could be a lot of pulling if the well is deep.  But Mike the plumber said most wells in the area were not much more than 50 to 100 feet.  So I warmed up the laptop and went straight to You Tube.

Let me tell you, I believe that the internet is one of the very best in homesteading tools.  It gives you fast and ready information and lots of variables as well!  It educates, it tickles your noodle to other possibilities and it is an awesome tool for entertainment, education, and staying in touch.  Heck, you can even make a living off it, like we do.  Awesome thing.  Great invention.  And boy, did I get an education on wells!

This fellow is a total newbie and he videotaped the whole process. Now, yeah, it was some work, but it was his first time and he did the whole thing in four hours. Without any expensive tools or rigs or anything like that.

Now, I did enjoy watching this dude’s video and his machine he created. Pretty neat.

Now, I dig Larry’s invention. And his DIY spirit. But the curious thing about this video is the comment section. Apparently, Larry has a few viewers that are well pros and they are doing their very best to shame and ridicule Larry for attempting to do something SO DIFFICULT and challenging… something they charge so much money for because it’s so hard. And difficult. Yeah.

Okay, no, I’m not really ready to do this myself. Or ask for help, it is a little tricky looking and well, I’m game to try a lot of things, but this one is a little beyond me. But unfortunately, it’s going to be something that we’ll have to save up for and it could be a few weeks of toting water. Thats life. People have had water issues for thousands of years and let me tell you, it makes me sick to see a gallon and a half of fresh water flush with every bathroom visit. Of course, I’m not really ready for a sawdust potty, or to start visiting our outhouse in the 20 degree cold weather just yet, but I will admit… it still irks me a little bit.

But the other thing I wondered about, was why can’t you access your well without a pump and electricity? I’ve always wondered about that and so I set out to learn more about wells and sustainable living and emergency water supplies. After all, it seems silly to have a well on your property and you can not access it if the grid goes down.

Here’s the skinny on a well. They basically drill a shaft down until the reach the water table. And then they go down another 20 to 30 feet so that you will have ample space in case of a dry spell, or drought and room for the pump. The pump looks like a big medicine capsule… smooth rounded edges and all that. In some areas, it’s not uncommon to have to go down 300 to 500 feet! But around here, in Ohio, the common depth is like 50 to 100 feet. Of course, your milage may vary and there are always exceptions to the norm.

Hand pumping water from much more than 20 feet is hard. There is some natural law that works with pressure and such that affects drawing water up from below ground. I didn’t totally understand it all, but it’s there, on the net, if you want to find out more.

But it’s still possible and if you were in a true emergency state, hey, you can do what you need to do. You can even rig up some sort of Gilligan’s Isle sort of rig to help you get that water up.

Of course, the fancy pump systems like the Simple Pump and FLo-Jak are pretty pricey, but still, they work. But I like that there are all sorts of other handmade options and some are less than $50 in parts.

Once we get it fixed and I learn how deep the water actually is, I am definitely going to look into something like a hand pump for emergencies. It just makes sense. You just never know.

And the other thing we are going to look into is those nice big 55 gallon barrels for out in the barn. The hardest part has been lugging water back to the animals. Thats a long walk with buckets. I think having 4 or 6 barrels back there would have been wonderful. 200 gallons should help you through a weather emergency, or electrical outage from storms or something. And you can rotate it out to keep the water fresh. I think it would be good to rig up a 55 gallon barrel for each of the barns, at the very least. And use it regularly. To keep it fresh. Just fill it once a week, and have it ready right at the animal watering source. And it can act as a heat sink as well, if we paint them black, to absorb heat in the winter sunshine.

So, education is valuable and we’re getting a headful at the moment. We’ll get by, we’re scrappy and tolerant of many things. As I look at it, mankind has only had decent running water for a hundred years. The umpteen thousand before has been by bucket and barrel. We can make due for a while, a week or two, maybe less. And the neat thing is that already our friends are coming up with ideas and help… I just talked to my friend Jan and come to find out she has a master plumber in her family and she thinks he can help out. I don’t like to assume that some people are taking advantage of folks, but sometimes it’s as clear as a tick on a coondog’s rump. And that’s pretty clear.

And we’ll just keep trying things and see what works and what doesn’t. Makes life pretty interesting. And gives me lots to be thankful for and such. I debated if I should share this with everyone here, but then I thought, heck yeah. I hope you will see that I’m not complaining, I’m explaining. And I know that by spreading this burden a bit, you never know what wisdom and advice will come from it. Heck, even just a “hang in there girls” goes a far way to making something easier to deal with.

All around me, my friends and family have been dealing with tough things… a brother in law lost a 15 year old boy to a heart attack… our neighbors have had 4 deaths in the last month! My good friend Rob’s mother in law passed away on Christmas Day. Friends have had unexpected car issues, repairs and other financial blows. We are not alone. I figure the Devil has to work a whole lot harder to make up want to give up our little dream homestead. All he’s doing is making us tougher and more determined to make it all perfect and good. A sunny disposition and some hard work and knowledge is a whole lot better than laying there on the side of the road and whining. And it looks better to your kids, whom are watching you all the time.

I figure that I’m raising up some tough girls… not afraid of life’s little detours and curves. And smart, tough girls make strong, awesome women. We ain’t skared…

Besides… who doesn’t like firemen?

Related Posts with ThumbnailsPin It

About Mobymom

the banjo player for Deepwater Bluegrass, and the editor of as well as the main graphic designer of the Westvon Publishing empire. She is a renaissance woman of many talents and has two lovely daughters and a rehab mobile home homestead to raise.


Rough Start to 2012 — 21 Comments

  1. OMG!!! OMGISH!!!!! First thing to independent to lay down and that bed..curl up into a ball and cry your eyes out !!!!! MY GOSH..the lord sent some angels there watching over you THAT DAY !!! How that could have easily turned into something horrible!!!!!

    Before I begin..I have to make a comment about our situation in Maumee..the abanded foreclosure house. As a recap..we got it super cheap..could not wonder 2 yrs..not a one person would buy this historical beauty and fix it up. My young daughter had..a small amount of money left from an inheridance to fix this thing..and of needed a furnace. I had many quotes..what do we get..force air? no ducts in the house..most of the homes in that area have hot water biggy huh..cheapest we found..for a boiler..was 7000!!! We had left 7200..for it..those things last forever. NOT lasted 3 mths. THREE MONTHS. The guy says..”you shouldnt have bought the —->CHEAPER<— model, and went with the 10000 one". ARE YOU SERIOUS!!!! 7000 is CHEAP!!!! Long story short..hes been back to replace ..what was NOT included 2 pumps at 300 each..(letting us make payments)..and since its been sitting 2 yrs..all the gages..not part of our "Cheap" furnace..have or are going bad..and when inspected by Maumee..was immediately shut down by Columbia Gas as unsafe !!!!! WHAT!! was a mess..the furnace guy wouldnt fix it..cause it WAS safe..and Columbia Gas wouldnt turn on the gas..because it wasnt safe. We was/are broke..he took our last bit of money PLUS making payments on 2 pumps..and now..we was to hire an attorney??? anyhow..its temporary fixed..til next time..and we are broke..and my young daughter 24..lives there..and I pray it doesnt catch on fire..or carbon monoxide her!

    So much for THAT..temporary.

    So I went searching..and..Ms Sherri..sometimes your a little "stubborn" and either DONT want help..or come up with your own please listen to a new friend whos been thru it all..btw..I have a well also here in Fremont..and now Im afraid of MY well..I think..there was or is a law..about old wells..having to cap them off..or use them..but I "dont think" any more handpump..something to do with the environment..Im not going to pretend I know.

    You like in Williams County I believe..and I found this site might not be the right one straight off..but..they can find someone..and if they cant..try another person..sometimes you just get unqualified people to talk to.

    When I lived in Ottawa Co..and I mentioned previously the WSOS program we have out here …there ARE grants from Ohio..and its early in the season..and its a plus your a single mom..they help them first. Sometimes they dont even ask for income verification.

    The year they helped me (WSOS)..they sent people out within a day or so..and totally installed the best situation for your heat. Unfortuately..I thought I saw a propane tank out there..I hate propane..but Im not familar with it. Once you find the right people..they we come..access the situation..and TOTALLY install whatever furnance you need..FOR FREE!..Stop playing around with Ms Homemaker fix them all stuff. Fix that dang furnace AND water situation and save your "I can do it all" for the chores and animals. This IS and emergency their eyes..and they well fix things that might not even need it..maybe storm windows..etc.. If they dont use all the grants..they lose them. Thats what its for..PEOPLE LIKE YOU AND ME..that just need alittle help now. Without good heat..and water..thats emergency woman! Dont do it all yourself.
    If your needing help with calling around and such..I could possibly help..but Im not sure about that part of the County..I know nothing about Williams..but..all the counties are familiar with the other counties and the programs they have..please please please..give it a try.
    As far as the firemen (yum)..soon you might find a husband (wink) in that bunch..or at least a best friend or two.
    Woodburners are great..but you have to be there periodically when the wood burns out..or everything is cold..including those frozen pipes in the basement..Me personally..I would consider (and I know your broke..I understand..but find some help)..I would go with the electric baseboards along the bottoms of the rooms. Sure..if the electric goes out..BUT electric seldom goes out for days..and yu do have some backup. Most apartments Ive been the area..apartment complexes..use those. My daughter had them in a apartment in Maumee..and it was even warm heat. Period. The baseboards arent cheap I imagine..but..nothing is. The "forced air furnace" they (WSOS) replaced in my house..was only 20 yrs..thats not bad..but I dont know if you have ducting. Hey…Im not a contractor..but seek out help..and let these people help you..if not..theyll just help your neighbor. Do it. I wish I could do more.
    Im sitting here..with a well..and a a house Ive had for 2 yrs. Now..Im scared about mine going out..what a nightmare. BTW..the electric heat? Was cheaper than the gas..and cheaper than my boiler (radiator) heat.
    I hope somehow this is poor thing..youve found your homestead..but with a price to pay..ONCE ITS should never have to worry again.
    GOD BLESS YOU..and may you find the help you need. (When you talked of the corn stove..I had to bite my was scary for me)

    • Wow, you sure went through a nightmare with the boiler and all that, I can’t imagine such a thing! Well, I guess I can, our first house we bought when I was married had a collapsing basement wall that was supposed to be fixed and wasn’t and it ended up in court and all that jazz. Shesh, no fun at all!

      Thanks for all your ideas and advise, they are sure appreciated. But I do have to say that I’m not upset or stressed out or anything. None of us are. And we’ve tried for the winterization program and were denied, we make too much moola! haha… We’re not broke, either… just really careful about our money, so I hate to just be forced into action by someone spewing expensive quotes for work that I don’t understand or see the complex skill for… I mean brain surgery? Sure. But lifting a ten pound pump out of a hole? Hmmm….. not quite so ready to just hand over thousand bucks for it. Guess it might be stubborn, but really it’s just getting tired of being taken advantage of “just because”.

      Every heating system and water system has it’s pluses and minuses, in my mind. None are failproof and none are the best, and I figure with some education and careful behavior, you can find the best situation for your situation… I’d love to go with just electric, it’s easy, clean and all that, but it’s expensive. We just got an adjusted bill for $700! They haven’t been reading the meter for months and decided to finally do it, and poof… here’s a bill for $700. Shesh.

      I think about the woodstove as a backup and also a way to utilize some of our wood resources here at the place. We have over 50 trees and my goodness, the wood that lays around this place… haha…. heck we have three dead trees that need to be cut up and cured, that alone could heat us for the winter! But, again, there is that live flame and constant attention…. shesh….. what the world needs is a simple, clean, inexpensive and safe means of heating… where are those Star Trek people when you need them! :-)

      And our well is not bad, nor does it need to be capped or anything like that, we don’t have city water out here, so a well is the only way to go. That could be so much more of a hassle for sure, digging a new one, etc, lots of expense. No, we just need to have the wiring replaced that goes down to the pump, deep in the well. We have a second well on the property, but that one is capped because it developed a case in the well casing 20 some years ago.

      Thanks so much for your good thoughts and worry, but we’re fine, it’s very cosy in here and we’re doing just fine, high spirits and all that. My Scottish blood can’t let me just curl up and die, and I’m not about to be afraid of various things like trying out a corn stove or other alternatives. There are tons of those stoves in our county alone, everyone seems to have them. And they work just fine for the majority of the folks. I’m not sure why this one chose to behave badly, but I’m so thankful that it did when we were home and able to take care of it… I think there is a reason for everything and boy, that was a gooood thing… I will call around again, see what they say. We might appear a little more dire now and they might accept us for some sort of program. I tried in the fall and they said no. Our neighbor works for one of the people that does a lot of the winterization program grants and he says the people he works with are in pretty dire situations. Really desperate. I would much rather they get that funding then us. I hardly feel desperate at all. I feel richly blessed!


  2. Sorry to hear about all this, but glad to know your spirit and good attitude is intact. I am sorry to hear about Rob’s mother, too. Things can’t help but get better around the homestead!

    • Thanks Pam! We’re fine, a little shoken there for a bit, but more by the thought that we could have lost the house! That is scary…. because we just love this place! There have been 3 major fires within 10 miles of us in the last month, so that is really something to think about!

      I shared this because I thought, so much of what you see, read and hear about, with rural living is that it’s all peaches and cream and Martha Stewart-ish and well, that’s not always the case. It’s like anything, there are good and bad and a few in between ugly spots! We’re learning. If anyone can glean a little insight and wisdom from our misfortune or trials, I think that is important.

      And yes… dealing with our friends and loved ones losses and troubles, helps us to realize that everything good gained is well, good. And a blessing.

  3. awww..that does make me feel so much better…’re like “Molly Brown” in the…I want to be behind YOU!. lol..I know..with the grants..they do run out of money fast..esp around Feb or March..but..I was making “decent” money when I applied..I was working. But I did see ..on the site I sent you..the rate of scale..and my GOSH..seems really tight. Nevertheless..your never know when they have the grants or when they dont..but I do know..sometimes they make..”adjustments”..and if they cant..somewhere else must. To pay full retail for repairs doesnt seem right ..right now. I have this stupid in town here near Fremont. and the waters so bad I have to add the salt and there is a softener..but makes the water I have to buy the salt AND drinking water..but its just
    Gosh..well..I know you can do this..and..there HAS to be another way of you meeting all these handsome firemen (blush). Thank you Jesus..for what could have happened. And in smaller towns..we dont have the work “inspected”..but if Maumee didnt have that as a law..after a “new” furnace..the gas man said there was leaks everywhere and there could have been carbon dioxide..maybe I wouldnt have a daughter right now. I do kno..those stupid pumps for the well dont last too long..about 7 yrs or brother and my mom and dad had them..sure hope mine holds up. got this under control..I was just invisioning the events of events of my past..I could write an amusing book just on my past with homes and apartments..all alone with my girls. But I know your a strong , intelligent lady..and you can do this..I hope I didnt overdue my advice..Ive just been times..and its there to help (grants)..and theres nothing wrong with that. Yipes..we really havent had a “real” bad snow day yet..of wind and snow..wouldnt you have like to seen with the “blizzard of 78” was like at Windhaven?
    Best of luck lady..take lots of naps, cry alot, and leave some firemen for us other single ladies : )

    • Oh Linda! I’m glad you aren’t mad at me, I do love your advice and helpful comments! I take them all to heart. This is new to us as well, and we are learning, and sure, we make a few mistakes but I’m so thankful that our “successes” far outweigh our troubles! I just didn’t want you to think we were helpless or broke or really downtrodden… I sure don’t feel that way at all.

      I suppose some folk might think, wow, they are really living on the edge or something but in reality I think we’re doing pretty good. We have a totally paid off property, no real bills or huge debt, own our own car, etc. We may not be flush with ready cash and credit but that is really our only real issue at the moment, especially coming off of Christmas and such. Last year was very tough on our savings and such, because, well, we had to scramble to gather enough money to actually buy the place outright, since no one would give us a mortgage and then we had months of rehab and moving in expenses.

      I’m looking forward to this year so much… we won’t have that huge upfront cost and such, so we should be able to reinvest a lot of money in to making the place really nice… like landscaping, flowers, and the “nice” touches, that will make this place sing!

      My buddy, our relator, he says we’ve easily doubled the value of this place in one year. That really makes me happy to hear. In this tight economy, to be able to double a property value in a year is really good stuff. I realize that since we got the whole place for the rediculous cost of only $12,000 it is easy to see it worth $24,000 now. And I think it just might go up another 5 or 10 grand next year, with all the improvements we are making. Most of the nice properties in our area with our acreage are about $30,000 to $40,000. I think that is fantastic and the best payback for our sweat, toil and tears!

      Of course, I just can never see us leaving this lovely place!!!

      Thanks again and post away! I love your advice and your friendship!


      • Whhhhaaattt??? Made at you? How silly is that..I think..because we dont really know each other..that..maybe our words get misunderstood. ? Too me..broke means..tight budget..period..gosh..I wasnt trying to judge you..or tell you want to do..your silly…Im just sharing what mishaps I’ve had..and my sista..Ive had many this year with the Maumee house..and come this spring..there is more I didnt mean “stubborn” as a bad word..some would have taken it that way..but..I have ..kinda a weird sence of humor..and my humor doenst come with my words..(plus..I tend to want to protect single moms) in the future know..that my words I hope arent offensive to you or any of the other ladies on here. Its like the “Molly Brown” meant you was strong and independent..not offensive..heck..who am I to judge..thats all silliness..I would be lost with got me thru nearly everything Ive had to glad you and the girls are girls would have ran in circles screaming..along with barking

        • wow,,all the misspelling in the above comment,,sorry..I haven’t been to bed yet..I needed to proof read!

  4. …and ya..the electric..that 700 had to be for several months..I think the electric for heating at Brittanys apartment..was about 100 month..all electric. My hot water boiler (gas)..right now is about 130..but come Feb..maybe 300. ~LH

    • Oh yeah, I already checked… and have had this happen before when you move in a new place. I guess it’s just tooooooo hard to read the meters in the country or something… 8 months of readjusted readings… shesh….. oh well.

      This too, shall pass!


  5. I’m sorry to hear about your challenges but it looks like you and the girls are braving them well. Those things really get you in touch with what is important. So glad the fire thing worked out okay.

    Just a FYI, I do believe pipes can still freeze unless you have had all pipes drained by a plumber (like when folks close up cottages). Just because your water is out, does not mean your pipes are empty and a little bit of water can still burst a pipe if it freezes. I’m guessing there is still water in your toilet bowl. When they drain pipes they put antifreeze down the pipes, etc. Just some info. Hopefully it does not get too cold there. All the best.

    • Haha… yeah, you’re probably right. They could freeze… I do know that we emptied the taps and that will help a lot. There is not a lot of water in the lines, and all that. I doubt they will freeze though, since we only have one bath and the kitchen and they are in the warm part of the house. Maggie put a bunch of insulation in all the window wells down there and I’d like to see about getting those pipe wraps as well. I figure everything we do to increase the heat absorption and weatherproofing of the house, just saves us in the long run. Thank goodness they had a company come in just before they lost the house and really insulated the place well. It was nice and cool even during the hottest spots of the summer and now, it holds a tolerable 55 degrees without any heaters running. The heaters bring it up to comfortable temps… that is a great thing!


  6. Funny someone mentioned Molly Brown. I was going to tell you, in all my hubris, you remind me of me…”unsinkable” if I do say so myself. :)

    To be sure this is not one of the better adventures in homesteading but I want to thank you for sharing it. It takes courage to mention even minor crisis because clearly you don’t want to come across as helpless and it’s obvious you are confident in the solution. Not to mention, you’re still a gal who owns her place free and clear and gets to spend a lot of time with her two exceptional kids. Nothing to pity there. :)

    For me, and this is in no way to disrespect Mr. Hetrick who seems like a fascinating unsinkable woman herself, being called stubborn is a great compliment. I am not only stubborn in my pursuits, I’m down right relentless and there isn’t a day I don’t acknowledge those traits for the importance they’ve had in the way I’ve navigated my life. You have that same quality and it has served you well. Certainly you know when to accept help from others and are aware of the happiness it gives them so I don’t see you being stubborn to a fault.

    I couldn’t agree more about the internet. It more than pays for itself. My son gets his education online but also, I continue to be educated from the internet daily. I’ve learned to cook, sew, garden, learn about medicine, languages and visit every place from Nashville to Llamu India. It’s a near free education and without question it has made me a better person. Just this year I replaced my own toilet flange, installed flooring, canned my own jams, made my own butter, from youtube info. I also made the best meatballs known to man AND my brother taught me via facetime to put in my own hot water heater. I saved a bundle and bought a sewing machine.

    Because I’m such a cinephile I’ll quote another one of my favorite lines. In the movie “The Edge”, Sir Anthony Hopkins is put in a survival situation with other men. It only occurs to him that instead of trying to outrun the bear stalking them they should kill it as they did in ancient times. He says “What one one man can do, another man can do. Say it! What one man can do another man can do.” That is that quality you had when you said, let me at least see what this pump requires before I get fleeced.

    Brava! You are an empowered person. You’re not a defeatist and that is the difference between having a crisis and having obstacles. You will fly over these hurdles and any other ones put in front of you.

    I hope sharing these difficulties has been cathardic for you. It was for me. Now I don’t feel so bad about my rough 2012 start. But that’s another novella for another time. sending lots of good vibes your way. It should work , the universe owes me one.

    • Thank you!!! I love the nice comments and the “atta girls” that we can share here… when I think about my grandmas and the ladies that came before us, the pioneers on the plains and the tough city girls, I am amazed at how soft we have become as a collective group, mostly we Americans. I know, I was one too! But there comes this real power and attitude adjustment when you start doing things for yourself and accepting issues and bumps in the road instead of seeking blame and entitlement from outside sources. You get strong. You learn. You adjust…. you adapt and you feel AWESOME because of it.

      I’m so looking forward to meeting you some day, because I think we are cut from the same cloth! And yes, I think my life is absolutely WONDERFUL… being with my girls, with the critters, the land, this home, we are molding and making it into our dream homestead and we love it to death. I hate to leave it, even on just an errand to town!

      Thanks again for commenting!


      • oops, I typo’d Mr. I meant Ms. Hetrick.

        It’s SO true what you say about pioneer women. Modern conveniences have caused us to loose sight of our full potential. But it’s such a pleasure to meet people with no wall of impossibility. I’m doing some major work around the house this week. (I think I’m nesting because my dog is pregnant.) Thanks for all the continued inspiration.

        Looking forward to future posts. I know the spring is going to be kind to Windhaven farms. The best is yet to come.

  7. Wow, I thought I was the only one with that kind of bad luck runs. Thankfully you were home when the fire broke out. As you said it could have been worse. I lost everything I owned except my kids and the clothes on our backs in 1987 to a housefire.

    If you have barrels in the barn, get em outside so when it rains it will fill them up. Water for critters you don’t have to haul girl! Rainwater is usually potable even for humans so clean the barrels out good and put them in service for the thirsty critters! Heck, if you have enough barrels I would roll one up by the house and catch some water there. I would not advise drinking it unless you have a Berkey to filter it but it is fine to do bathe in, wash clothes, mop floors, etc.

    DH is a retired electrician and tells me that 220 electric heaters actually use less electricity in the long run than 110s (always nice on the bottom line of the electric bill). So, if you can pick up a couple of them, not only are they cheaper to run but they heat much better. I had one in the upstairs bedroom of our former home, a Victorian 3 story house. It heated the 16 x16 foot master bedroom and the hallway toasty warm. These rooms had 12 foot ceilings too.

    Here’s to hoping you are through your bad luck run. Keep on plugging and stay as positive as you are (I know, sometimes it is HARD).

    • Hi!

      Thanks for dropping in and commenting! We love new friends!

      Oh my, dear!!!! Loosing everything to a fire, that had to just be heartbreaking. I know stuff is just stuff, but still, it’s your stuff and its your history and all that… so sad. But I’m sure you have gained a different perspective on your life when you hug those kids and know it could have been even worse.

      Oh yes, as soon as we can, we are getting water barrels and storage water barrels and all that good stuff. I have wanted to do that, but just ran out of time and funds before the cold hit. Come spring though… haha… we WILL have those in place for sure. Being near the great lakes, we get a good amount of rain and that will be really handy for so many reasons. And with 8 buildings, we have a LOT of roof runoff.

      Thanks for the electrical advice… yeah, I like these little radiant heaters as well, we got a Eden pure clone, ah, Sunking or something like that, anyways, like a third the cost… but it’s such a nice heater. Really does a number on heating up a room or two. And it’s cool to the touch and you can wheel it around, even set it on a cycle so it cools and warms by the hour and all. I think another one of those or two and we’d be perfectly well set.

      We closed off parts of the house with curtains in doorways, something like old tapestry in drafty castles and just warm a outside room when we need it. With 2,000 sq feet, it’s easy to condense down to fewer rooms and entertain ourselves. Each of us has a nice little heater in our bedrooms, so that’s nice, and then the living room. kitchen and dining room are kept warm as well. It’s working just well enough.

      Sure a nice easy central heating system would be great and I’m sure that by next year, we’ll probably have something like that. But I think we will still keep it at a low setting and suppliment heat where needed… it sure makes good sense!

      Thanks for the pat on the back… we’re doing fine, really, I’m just counting the days till spring and getting my brain around our gardening plans! Can’t wait!!!!!


  8. I totally know the feeling. We had to replace the furnace in our house when we moved in a few years ago. It had been patched so many times there was just no fixing it! And then of course our water heater started leaking because it was so old and corroded. I know it seems sometimes that a plumber may be over charging for a simple fix, but when I went over the costs with my husband he reminded me that:
    1. the plumber came out to see exactly what we needed. He had to then go and buy the new water heater, load it, deliver it to our house
    2. drain the old one, shut off the gas, remove the old one, carry it out & load it onto the truck and later, drag it back off the truck & dispose of it
    3. hook up the new one – including the gas connection (without blowing up the house and yes, I’m afraid of my water heater :) ) and test the connections
    4. maintain his truck, keep his plumber’s license, pay for his bond & insurance AND pay his helper

    After all of that time, effort & energy, I realized that with what we paid he was barely making any money. So sometimes things that you think shouldn’t cost very much are a lot more work and cost than you really realize. (And this is coming from someone that has a husband who is in the technology industry and everyone we know wants him to work or fix things for free because it “doesn’t cost him anything, it’s not like he has to buy parts or anything” to do the things he does!

    You and the girls (and the whole gang) are in our prayers for a better 2012!

    • Oh yes, I agree… I do feel that professionals are pros for a reason. But I do get a little funny when someone can’t give me a ballpark estimate on a job that is commonly done…. and assumes a part is busted before even looking at it… ups the price on that part 3 fold…. and has a sort of snarky attitude about doing the work as if we are fools to not have him do it.

      That kind of burns my toast, if you know what I mean!

      I’m a graphic artist and let me tell you, everyone and their brother thinks that I should do all this work for free, all the time. They don’t realize that a flyer or business brochure or website might take me HOURS and HOURS to complete. Or that perhaps my skills are valuable, or that I have to feed my children or put gas in my car. Not to mention all the software and hardware that I have to maintain to stay “current” with the trends etc etc.

      I’m also a musician, and play in a band. Nothing irks me more than to have someone agree to have us play and then back off after 3 hours of performance and want to give us a bowl of potato salad or a box of donuts as payment instead of the agreed upon amount. Yeah, it’s happened more than I would like to admit.

      When I find a decent professional, that I trust and treats me fairly, I would pay them the world for their skills. But unfortunately, there are a lot of bad apples in EVERY profession that really sours things for the good ones, if you ask me.

      Thanks for writing!!!


  9. {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{hugs}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

    Now that you have that all out of the way the rest of the year should be a piece of cake! 😉

    • That’s what I’m hoping! Three strikes and we’re done for awhile… the Devil can move on and cause mischief for others for a wee bit and give us a little break! (gg)