“Wyrd biõ ful ãræd.”

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Log entry on a cold and starry night.


It's cold out there tonight.  Lots of stars out though, which is some compensation for the chilly weather.

I have not been using wood heat this winter. I have the fieldstone fireplace and the two wood burning stoves, but I elected to heat primarily with the propane heaters. I can set them, and they maintain a constant temperature. No getting up in the night to put wood on the fire, and no chimney fire concerns.  Of course, it's a bit more expensive.  A long bed truck of stacked and split oak costs me $60.00 if I pick it up at the wood yard. I burn about one load every one and a half to two weeks in really cold weather.  In terms of propane,  I have burned about 400 gallons in 120 days.  That comes out to roughly $10.00 a day, or $1200 in propane costs for four months.  Propane, unlike every other fuel I track, has not dropped any in price since oil costs per barrel fell, so I am still paying the same rates I paid last winter. This is largely because the local propane dealerships fix the price among themselves, which is common practice up here even though it's illegal. Wood would have run me less for the same time period.  I think that wood will remain a backup, and I'll keep supplies otn hand, but it's a lot less work to use the propane heaters.

My daughter has come down to visit for a week, and she brought the Silky chickens. Very strange looking creatures, you wouldn't know they were chickens if you just looked at them. But they seem to be good laying hens, and we have converted a portion of the glass house for their living quarters. Even if they could stand the cold, the regular chickens would kill them if I let them outside. Now I have another space to heat, though, and that will be with electric heat. My electric bill has been running about $250 a month, because of the constant extreme cold, but it beats damaged supplies and equipment, or busted pipes, in the outbuildings.

Another building to heat means more kerosene to store and another kerosene heater to buy, as backups . When the power goes out, as it frequently does for varying lengths of time here, I still have to be able to heat those spaces and I do it with kerosene shop heaters. At $4.00 a gallon for kerosene, I don't do that unless I have to.  Still cheaper than broken pipes or lost supplies, though.  I now have to drive to an adjacent county to buy kerosene. The last station that sold it in my own just went out of business. The economy may indeed be recovering as the Great Golfer in Chief and his toadies claim, but you sure can't tell it from life up here in the Smokey Mountains.

This weekend is shaping up to be enjoyable, but the cold is due back mid week and I'm not looking forward to that overly much. Still, there's always work to be done inside, and I'll not have any problem staying busy.


30 comments:

  1. I'd love to go back to burning wood, but my wife feels just the opposite.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's cheap but it's a lot of work. If worse ever comes to worse and I have to go back to wood as a primary heat source hopefully my son will be here to help me.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think there are pros and cons of having three different ways to heat. We love the smell of the wood burning around here in the winter. something we missed living in Fla. glad your daughter is visiting. nice to have the kids now and then.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I still have a fire sometimes for the "cozy" factor Rob, but I don't keep one going all night. It's a lot of work and propane is just easier. Yes, having her home is really nice. Wish my son could have come but he is working and couldn't get off.

      Delete
  4. I thought you would be burning your own wood from the fallen trees but I suppose it's difficult to get the wood in and stored.
    Silkies are funny looking things. Apparently when westerners first came across them in China they were told that they were a cross between a rabbit and a chicken!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kev, I have plenty of wood in blow downs on my place. But it's dangerous cutting into a blow down, because there are always limbs bent back, just waiting to whip out and nail you. Also, it's a lot of work to cut the wood, drag it out to the truck, drive it up to the house, split it, and then stack it. So for awhile I have been buying oak from a wood cutter, but I still have to bring it home and stack it. Then you have to keep the wood stove loaded and the fireplace stocked. It's just easier to use the built in heaters. I am getting older and my son is gone off on his own, so it's just me here as I won't let my wife anywhere near a chain saw or have her lifting wood. I could still use wood in hard times if need be.

      Silkies are very strange. But they lay eggs so I suppose they can earn their keep, even if they are high maintenance.

      Delete
  5. Yes, it costs something one way or another and the wisest thing to do is like you did, look at it from all angles. Even wood we get for "free" ourselves costs time, labor, and fuel for the chainsaw.

    Can't ever say I thought much about Silkies, although I know folks love them. Still, fun to have if you've got them. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Like some others that live here, I got the silkies because my daughter got them from a pet store, where they were dying. My daughter rescues all sorts of animals from pet stores and elsewhere, then finds them forever homes. But the silkies require heated living space and a lot of care, so nobody wanted them. Including me, but I have never been able to tell my daughter no about anything.

      Delete
  6. The silkies are neat looking chickens I think. We use wood to heat, plus electric. My husband chops the wood himself, so it is free. It is a lot of work though, and the mid night stove refills are a pain. Our electric bill had jumped up quite a bit this past month, due to the heat running when we are not home to fuel the fire. Around $209. The month prior it was $160. It's going to be beautiful today though - mid 60s here. I'm looking forward to getting some sunshine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wood burning is a lot of work. I used to be very proud of using my own wood to heat our place, but now I look on it as a backup heat source. I am getting long in the tooth to be going through the rigors of firewood work.

      It's been warm here the last two days, but now the weather forecast for this weeks later part is down around 12 degrees! The worst of winter is yet to come for us here I think.

      Delete
  7. I wish in the city we could have chickens. It's so crazy that we can't have them. So much for the land of the free. I want eggs! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alissa, if you lived here my dogs would spare you some eggs. They are obese because they know where all the nests are and go around eating the eggs on a daily basis. The vet told me I had to cut way back on their food consumption last time they got their shots, but that's a good trick in my case. My daughter is home and she was very annoyed with me because I have let the dogs get so fat.

      Delete
  8. No ferrets? We have a base of about $125 electric without heat /and a/c. We have geo thermal. Heating costs alone isabout $2 a day for our very large home. We couldn't come close to that in our smaller 1500 sq ft home. We do still use our wood burner insert in the fireplace but need to be careful when we run it because the thermostat is in the same room and it turns off the heat completely. If one of us is home, we use it but if we have to work we don't because when it cools down there is suddenly a lot of cold air flowing through the system that needs to be heated. I think we are getting Cornish Crosses for meat birds this year. We will still have our Buffs for eggs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow! I wish I had geothermal heat. I have read about it but never knew anyone who actually had it. That's an outstanding price to keep your house warm, I think my winter costs might be ten times that on a daily basis when it is really cold.

      I have lots of chickens I could eat, though I never do. I would in hard times though. The Silkies are just creatures that needed a home, but at least they work their way. No, Elizabeth didn't bring me any ferrets, so I am going to get some from the ferret rescue in Acworth, Georgia. They have some older ferrets who need a forever home, so what better place than with an old guy.

      Delete
  9. why not consider having the best of both worlds? Burn wood during the day when you are home and awake, and leave the more expensive propane for during the night when you're sleeping?

    $1200 is a whole whack of money...! (roughly ZAR13806.99 at todays rate)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually do have a fire during the day sometimes Dani, when I just feel like one. I seem to get really tired without much effort these days, and keeping this place warm with wood stoves and the stone fireplace is just getting to be too much work. But I do have a modified version of your plan in place, just depends on when I have the energy and feel like a fire.

      Delete
  10. Sounds like you are paying 3 $ a gallon. I am paying 2 $ a gallon for propane. Using a single Rinai direct vent unit set a 72 degrees that runs full-tilt-boogie for 6 months a year I burn about a gallon and a half a day. Some is also used for cooking as we have a propane stove. I have a 500 gallon underground tank. Most dealers around here charge 3 $ or more on a "keep fill basis" where they top off the tank once a month or when they feel like they need to reconcile their book keeping at the end of the month. They deliver 30 or 40 gallons and charge a premium rate per gallon. I specifically hunted around for a dealer who would sell me propane but not on a "keep full" basis and only when I call for it. I can do that as I own my tank and do not rent the tank from them. If you rent the tank from them you have to do a "keep full contract", its their tank and they own you and do as they want. I buy 400 to 450 gallons a year at 2 dollars a gallon. I fill only once every 18 months or so.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My propane heaters do not do as well as your system does. Unfortunately for me, the main house is three levels and pretty large, so heating it takes a lot of energy. You are just about spot on with the price. I know they are hosing us because I have a web page I can go to and see the spot price per day that dealers are paying, and it's no where near fair compared to the price they charge retail.

      I own my own tanks. I did that thinking I would call around and buy from the cheapest seller when I needed gas. That's how I found out that every dealer in town sells for the same price, to the penny. Not coincidence, I am sure.

      Delete
  11. We have one silkie and I love her. You may need to build a little coop to keep your silkies in, unless you see they are getting along well with the other hens. When we put our silkie in to the main coop, they other ladies about tore her up. So she now shares a space with our banty rooster...they are in love

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My wife has a glass building, which we call "the plant room." I had tools in it. My daughter and my wife took half of it and made a Silkie habitat out of it, which I now have to heat! I am sure my chickens would kill the silkies in an instant if they could get to them! There are three hens. I guess I am glad as I don't really want more high maintenance chickens!

      Delete
  12. We are going to get a gas stove, so that most likely means a gas wall heater as well. Right now our electric bill is about $150 a month but that's offset in the warmer months when it's only $10.
    Of course it's $25 per month for the privilege of paying them to use the power...

    The woodshed is down 50%, but that will easily get us through until spring, for those days we are at the cabin. It's been in the 50's so we didn't need to light up the stoves at all lately.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I use propane for heating, for the water heater, and for cooking. When this place was built in 1986 propane cost about fifty cents a gallon. Now it's nearly three dollars a gallon. But the price of electricity has gone way up as well, and everything that is gas will run here without electricity in bad times, so I just keep using gas.

      I have to run a lot of air conditioning here in the summer as it is hot and humid as the breath of hell. But it's not as expensive as winter.

      Delete
  13. Harry,

    We use propane gas to heat for the winter, that bill usually runs us about $85 -$90 bucks a month. When the gas bills goes up,or electric bill goes down.
    Or dryer, and water heater are both gas. We burn wood out on the patio but refuse to pay for it. We pickup wood for free all the time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I was as stalwart as you and your husband, I could burn wood free as I have plenty of it on my land. But it sure takes a lot of blood and sweat to cut up the blow downs, drag the wood out to truck, drive it up to the house, split it and stack it. Then keeping everything going is a pain, too. I really should go back to wood but this winter I am low on steam and just don't feel like doing all that work. I wish I did, though.

      Delete
  14. Winters can be expensive, can't they. I guess that's one good thing about the spring weather we have here right now. But I still want some snow!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Being a native of Sweden, I know you want some snow. I hope you get it. I'd say you should move here to the Smokies but you already live in a place so beautiful that it would be painful to leave. Sometimes even after I have read a particular post I will go back several times just to see the photos again.

      Delete
  15. two months ago I was going to the woodshed and I slipped and fell. now I'm typing one handed with the other in a sling and heating with direct vent propane heaters. five of them in the house, one each in my wife's studio and my shop. I like wood better. my wife got the sarah moore books in the last post and likes them. the setting is just a few miles from where we live in the u p. good tip. thanks, ken

    ReplyDelete
  16. Ken, working with firewood gives so many opportunities for getting hurt. Even if you don't have an outright accident, if you do the whole process yourself it's so exhausting you can be setting up for a heart attack or stroke. Sorry to hear you got dinged up. Part of the lifestyle though, no getting away from it.

    I'm glad your wife likes the books. I learned some things from them and they were a good read though light on action and heavy on female perspective. I'm reading a new series now, lots more battles against evil cannibals and the like, so more my usual fare!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I suppose I can't complain about heating the house here in Oz after reading all of the comments above! I have a gas heater in the lounge room that keeps most of the house warm in winter, it runs off a 40 litres bottle outside the house and I usually only need two bottles to see out winter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish I could get by with those energy costs, Sgt. Part of the problem here is that I have to heat or cool all or part of four buildings, some of which are fairly large. When the temperature gets down into single digits, as it's supposed to do again this weekend that gets expensive. Hope all is going well down there in Australia.

      Delete