Sundays are quiet days. This Sunday is gray and gloomy, cold, just at freezing but not wet. A good day for sitting by a fire with a cup of tea, a good book, or my knitting. A good day for stew simmering on the stove and bread rising for baking.
To build a fire in the living room, a fire needs to be built in the wood stove in the basement or we get a downdraft on that side of the chimney and smoke in the basement.
That fire heats up the basement, where we keep the thermostat set below the ambient temperature of the ground as the basement is set three sides underground and the fourth side south facing. Having a fire there heats the basement above the temperature that we set the living area thermostats and the rising heat up the stairwell keeps the thermostat for the main part of the house from turning the heat on, and it heats the floors enough to help keep the main level of the house warmer.
The living room fireplace is a Rumford design that has an actual open vent from outside to bring in air and the tall curved back and smoke shelf to prevent downdrafts, projects heat back into the house. This is about as efficient as an open fireplace can be. When we aren’t sitting in front of it monitoring the burn, we have both screen doors and glass doors that can be closed for safety. Fortunately, we have never had to rely on these two sources of heat for more than a handful of days from power outage due to an ice storm. With the woodstove, a gas grill, and a camp stove, cooking wasn’t a problem then. Water was, as we are on a well, but we have a 4500 gallon cistern system that catches rain and snow melt from the roof and downhill from it is a gravity fed yard hydrant so water for toilets and animals can be obtained there. Purchased water for cooking and drinking for us if we haven’t filled bottles. Generally, the basement freezer has a dozen or so gallon bottles frozen in it to help keep food when the power is out. Since we don’t hunt and don’t buy perishables in bulk, there is usually not too much to lose.
We love our retirement farm and are truly fortunate in having acres of grass that can be hayed and young men who want the hay for their livestock that take care of mowing and baling it and in exchange for the hay, keep areas brush hogged and this year keeping us in firewood by cutting an oak that fell at the edge of the hay field two springs ago, split that wood and brought it up to our woodpile. They were going to stack it too, but three grand kids that were here awaiting a holiday meal stacked most of it for us. We don’t abuse their offers of help, but know that if there was really a task beyond our capabilities, we could call one of them and they would make time to take care of it. Country life is certainly different than the suburban life of my working years.