The Power is Out

Let me start by saying that our electrical company is top notch. We only have electrical hiccups a few times a year, and those generally only last a few seconds at worst. This morning, however, we’d finished breakfast and had just gotten through family chapel. The kids were hustling off to make their beds and do their chores, when I heard a pop and noticed the kitchen light go out. I looked outside at the meter, and sure enough – we were without power.

After about ten minutes, it became clear that the power wasn’t going to come back on immediately and I began changing plans. I was literally a few seconds away from sitting down to get some work done, but with no power and an old laptop battery, I’d only be able to get 10 or 15 minutes of work accomplished. I reached for the refrigerator and realized I’d better not open yet – no telling how long things would be down. As I went into the garage to get a flashlight for the basement, I heard Jesi telling the kids to pick up since she was about to vacuum – it’s incredible how quickly we forget the ways that electricity impacts us.

Our neighbor came over to see if it was just him or if the whole block was out – he was worried about his fish if the power was out for a long time. I was getting antsy to start working and I actually considered firing up the generator so that I could power the internet and our computers. Now, as things go, we’re pretty comfortable functioning without electricity. The house is heated with wood and the water is gas heated – the electricity is only needed for the freezers and the fridge – plus the kitchen stuff and lights. After about an hour, the power came back on and life resumed as normal – but I’ve been left thinking about how quickly progress was brought to a halt this morning. Granted, my biggest concern was that the coffee was getting cold, but I’m realizing just how appreciative I am that electricity flows freely from my wall sockets.

We’ve been considering having a “electricity free fun night” with the kids – throwing the breakers to everything but the food storage and camping out in the living room with flashlights and cooking on a camp stove. I’ve heard that these experiences can be invaluable for the real emergencies and ice storms – when those hit, your kids already think that no electricity is fun and not scary. Spending the evening camped out under a blanket tent with the wood stove cranking and flashlights sounds like a great way to spend time as a family and let the kids know that their world is much bigger than their local electric co-op……

Find an Ideal Home Service Provider

Are you looking to hire the best home service, providers? If yes then there are plenty of options present, and you can choose the one as per your needs and requirements. You may know the fact that all the companies or service providers present online are not same or providing equal services. It is the main reason that you should always hire the professionals. After keeping all the important things into consideration, you should always check out the type of services. They are offering before going to hire them. With the help of reputed service providers, you can maintain everything in your home with ease.

There are many professionals that are offering the best home services, and you can hire them to ease up your task. It can help you to save your time and energy which is also one of the best benefits that you can get from it.

What to look for?

  • Experience: The first thing that everyone should look for while hiring the home services is their experience. It is good to hire the professionals that have a good experience in this area instead of availing the services from the fresher. People should always check out the experience to get an idea about the quality of services that they are offering.
  • Cost price: Before going to avail the services of a reputed service provider. The most important thing that you should look for is the cost price. With the help of this, you can also compare the rates of the different companies. To find the one that is suitable for your budget, you can also decide your budget first. It will make your search process easier and simple.
  • Reviews: Are you going to hire the professionals to maintain your home? Well, after searching for the best companies, the next thing that you need to do is to check the reviews on their official website. With the help of this, they can easily find a reliable company. You have to make more efforts or wasting their precious time.
  • Type of services: if a service provider is not offering the services that you really need for your home then you shouldn’t hire. First of all, always consider your needs and the types of services that you really want. After this, you also need to check out the services that the home service company offer. If the company offers the services that you require, then you don’t need to think a lot while hiring them.

After keeping these things into consideration, you can take some vital facts in account to make an ideal choice. It can also help you find the professionals that can provide you the best home services that you really want.

In a nutshell, the home service providers can also help you make your task simple for maintaining your home.

Welcome to our Happy Homestead

Today our home is filled with the scent of apples cooking. Not yet the scent of spiced apples, or apples cooking inside of a pastry, but the almost watery scent of apples baking in their own juice – the epitome of fall. Outside, the air has a crispness to it as if trying to clean out the stuffiness of the end of the summer heat.For years, my husband and I have had the goal of moving out to the country to a small farm, trying to live off the land and be self-sufficient. We’ve taken great strides towards our dream with our little homestead. Granted, we’re still in town, although thankfully it’s a very small town. We haven’t yet escaped the neighborhood, but you’d be surprised what kind of country living can be done inside of town limits! At least we’ve taken a large step away from grocery stores with our small jump towards our farm.

Back when we were in the city, I did not expect how I would feel each spring and fall. Since much of our food comes from our land, the seasons mean something other than a change of wardrobe. I feel the changing of the seasons much more vividly than before, each season bringing with it a change of pace so dramatic that it is impossible to ignore. This inexorable passage of time brings about an excitement every few months that is breath-taking.

As a perfect illustration, this last week has truly been the beginning of a beautiful fall. We weren’t sure we’d get a true fall this year, since the snow came following a week of temperatures in the 80s! However, stepping outside today, I can feel the autumn all the way to my bones. One of my favorite parts of fall is the crisp feeling to the air as I take a deep breath along with the new scents – the last mowing of grass, the dusty scent of fallen leaves, the apple scent that seems to be everywhere.

This kind of crisp feeling in the air always stirs something deep inside of me – a primal, almost visceral need to burrow into our home. I feel a rush to get the firewood chopped and stacked. I long to be home instead of out running errands. I feel a deep-seated drive to stock up on foods that can be tucked away in the pantry for that day when the snow prevents us from leaving the house. I start craving hot cups of tea and cardigan sweaters and candles with a spicy scent and I have to admit that even knitting begins to sound exciting!

The craziness of the summer is starting to wind down, the baby pool has been cleaned out and stored for the winter, and the sled and snow shovels are ready in the garage. The baby bunnies are all grown, the chickens are scrambling to get the last of the summer bugs and best of all – the apples are being harvested. I’ve always loved the fall, but somehow, living closer to the land, I’ve fallen in love with it all over again.

Electric Grinders

We’ve had quite a few questions over the last few weeks as we’ve had our grain order come in and distributed – we’ve found a few new converts to the world of wheat grinding and a few questions have been brought up that I’ve found myself answering repeatedly – so I’m posting much of that information here so that I and you can reference it. First on the agenda is Electric Grain Mills. If you’re new to wheat grinding in general, there are a few decisions you need to make before you jump into the grinder market – as with anything, you get what you pay for.

As far as grinders go, there are many different kinds on the market. We carry 12 of the most preferred, and they can range in price anywhere from about $70 up to $400 (you can spend more than that if you like, but obviously most folks don’t)

The big decision to make is if you want a manual or hand powered one, or an electric. Most home bakers prefer an electric one – they’re a bit more expensive, but they grind wheat very quickly and with no effort – cranking a hand grinder can be a real exertion. Here are some details on the most popular electric ones – this is some information I typed up for someone else that I am going to copy and paste – if you want the same kind of info on a manual mill, just let me know and I’ll be happy to send you the info! As manual mills go, the Country Living mill is the best one available for a reasonable price ($395). We own one of the Family Grain Mills and It’s treated us very well – one of the big advantages to the manual mills is the ability to coarse crack grains for things like cornbread or cereal. Anyhow, here’s the information on the four most popular electric mills:

Arguably the best mill on the market today is the Nutrimill. It’s quiet, it has the largest variety of texture settings for your flourIn many ways, it has become the defacto standard if you do any real grinding. It’s on the more expensive side, but its value is unbeatable. It’s also one of the quietest mills available.
The Nutrimill Grain Mill

The Nutrimill took the spot of the WhisperMill, which dominated the market for many years. It’s company was sold and it is now marketed as the WonderMill. It’s still an excellent choice, and we own one (although ours is still from the WhisperMill days). It’s a little louder than the Nutrimill but it does an excellent job. It used to be slightly less expensive than the Nutrimill, although just last week we received notice that the minimum allowable resale price has gone up and now matches the Nutrimill.
The WonderMill Grain Mill

If you’re looking for economy without sacrificing quality, the K-Tek is the way to go. It’s louder than the others, but it has a hardcore following and people say you can grind rocks in it (obviously don’t actually grind rocks – stone bread is nowhere near as good as stone soup). It also doesn’t have the same capacity as the Nutrimill, but if you’re only doing a few loaves a month then it will be just fine. It’s very well made and does a great job.
The K-Tec Grain Mill

The Vitamill is the least expensive and it does do a good job – it’s made by the same folks that make the Nutrimill, and it’s the smaller cousin to it. Similar to the K Tek, it doesn’t handle the same capacity as the Nutrimill and its flexibility in grinding is more limited.
The Vitalmill Grain Mill

Personally, we’re very happy with the WonderMill, but when it finally dies (it’s been going strong for 6 years now) We will replace it with a Nutrimill. The K Tek has a following that is very devout – I’ve never used one other than to demo it, but I’ve never heard anything bad about them, and we’ve sold quite a few.

Up Next – The Manual Grinders…

The Cost of Burning Wood

The benefits of having and using a good quality wood burning stove are plentiful – the pleasing aesthetics and charm aside, the practical uses for a wood stove extend beyond simple heat for the house. We’ve enjoyed cooking on ours this year – there’s nothing like boiling beans all day long on a heat source that was going to be hot anyway. It’s a great way to save energy and reduce your dependence on electricity. Properly placed and depending on the size and layout of your house, a wood burning stove can heat your entire house, possibly to temperatures much higher than you would otherwise afford with gas or electrical heating.

The general belief surrounding wood is that it is significantly less expensive than heating your house with other means, although this may not be true. Carefully consider the specific reasons you want to heat or supplement your home with wood heat. Everything depends on your specific situation, but here are some factors to consider.

Do you have a woodstove? Your house might have one already, and if so you’re probably in good shape – otherwise, you’ll likely spend $400 to $800 on a used woodstove – upwards of $2,000 for a new one of good quality. Obviously you can find deals, but don’t forget installing it if your home isn’t ready – another $800 in materials and the labor if you can’t do it yourself. Consider how many years it will take to break even on the savings you’d experience from wood heat – some homes cost close to $400 or $500 a month to heat in the winter – it may well make sense, or it may be 10 years before you get your money back.
What is your wood source? Are you going to buy wood for $150 a cord? Do you have a woodlot you can pull from? A source of free wood that you can cut and haul yourself? I was fortunate enough to find an excellent source of wood from a tree service company – they did tree removal and would dump large tree chunks in an old vacant lot. I asked them for permission and they gave me unlimited access to the wood they would bring back. Much of it was green and needed to be aged, but once I had built up my wood pile and got it into rotation, it has worked very well.

How much work is it going to be? Do you have a hydraulic wood splitter? Are you in physical shape to split, move and stack your woodpile? What is your time worth? I can generally split a week worth of wood (depending on how cold it is outside) in two or three hours on a Saturday. If it would only cost me $50 that week to heat my house by other means, is it worth it to me to lose three hours of my weekend, effectively getting “paid” $12 or $14 an hour? In our current situation, I’m more than happy to save the money with a few hours of physical labor – but if you’re making a reasonable amount of money, it might not make sense to take the time.

Are you ready to feed the fire? Beyond just the time it takes to split the wood, you also must consider the chore of feeding your stove around the clock. Generally this isn’t too big of a deal, especially since we like the house a little cooler at night. I can load up the stove and crank the air way down and still have plenty of warm coals in the morning. Every few hours during the day I throw a few more logs on and make sure everything is burning well.

Is there other equipment you’ll need? How about the gas for your chainsaw and log splitter? General maintenance on those pieces of equipment as well as your maul, sledge and wedges? Cleaning the chimney out every year? Gas for the truck to haul the wood? Are you going to be nickel and dimed to death?

Eventually the question must be asked: why do you want to burn wood in your home? Periodically to add atmosphere and memories? As a supplement when the temperatures get really cold? Full time as a primary source of heat for your house? There have been several times in the last few years that we’ve been thankful for our woodstove – particularly during power outages in the winter. We’ve stayed warm in -10 degree nights with no electricity – not just warm, but comfortable. As an emergency backup, the woodstove is unbeatable – and this year, having maintained and seasoned wood for many years, we’ve been able to cash in on the investment we’ve been making for quite some time. With very tight cash flow as we work to get our business off the ground, we’re nothing but glad to have enough wood to last us the whole winter.

Your situation may be different – as with anything, you’ve got to start down the path with your eyes wide open. Installing or using a woodstove in an economic way will depend entirely on your application, use and location – not to mention the friends you have and people you know who may be able to help you find free firewood. Personally, I can’t imagine trying to live long term without a good woodstove. This year, we’re depending on it exclusively – but next year, it may only make sense to supplement. Our woodstove is a living member of our family and it’s responsible use depends on us.…