Tag Archives: fireplaces

Homestead Update 3/31/2018

31 Mar

Yes, I’m back. I took a break from posting this winter but Spring is just around the corner. We had a really cold winter with two different spells of temperatures in the low single digits. Before the weather turned bad, I made sure we were prepared. I laid in a supply of firewood, serviced and ran the generators, checked the battery powered lights, bought kerosene for the lanterns and heaters, and made sure we had plenty of water and food stored in the pantry. Fortunately we didn’t need any of that but it is good to be prepared.


We also had two light snow events such as this one where we received about 6 inches. I stepped out on the porch and snapped this photo just at sunrise and I thought it was pretty.


I had my trail cams out behind the house and I saw this nice buck.


I also saw this scraggly spike buck.


A nice close-up of this little Doe.


During one of the cold spells, we built a fire in the fireplace. At first, Brandi was afraid of the fire due to the popping and crackling sounds, but soon she decided “Hey I kinda like this!” She just stretched out and laid there like a big dog.


The temperatures were low enough to kill the broccoli planted in the raised beds. I have it replanted now so there should be enough time for the new broccoli to make before hot weather comes. More to come, keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update

8 Nov

I haven’t done much around the homestead this week due to my eye healing up. And even though no one bothered to ask, my eye is doing much better now, thank you very much.


Sweet Thing and I went to the big Flea Market two weekends ago; I looked at all the old tools and such. The only thing I saw that was a good enough deal to buy was this draw bar for my tractor at only $15, I couldn’t pass that up.


That Flea Market is the same place I bought this $15 fuel pump last year. I used it a whole year without any problems until last week. I tried to fill my tractor and I pumped, pumped, and pumped on the handle but I couldn’t get it to prime and start pumping no matter what I tried. I thought “Dang, now I am going to have to take the pump apart and try to figure out how to repair it and order a kit to fix it.”


But as luck would have it, I saw this sitting in a front yard by the road with a “for sale” sign in front of it. I checked it out and it looked OK, so I took out my new smart phone (yes, I finally caught up with the rest of the world and got rid of my old reliable flip phone) and went to the Tractor Supply web site to see if I remembered correctly how much this would cost new. The tank would be $499 and the least expensive 12 volt pump would be over $200. After you add the tax, you would be looking at pretty much $800 for this set up. Oh yeah, now I remember why I am using a Flea Market pump and 2 free oil barrels for my fuel, I couldn’t see spending that much even though I wanted one badly. I called the number on the sign and the man came out from inside the house and I prepared to do my best horse trading. I asked him if the tank was rusted inside, he said no and removed the cap and used his pocket flashlight to let me look inside. I asked if it leaked and again he said no, he just took it out of his truck yesterday. I asked if the pump worked and he said yes, the only thing he didn’t like about it was the long cord with alligator clips on the end which caused him to need to raise the hood of his truck and hook them up when he needed to use the pump. He then hooked the pump to my truck battery and you could hear the pump run, although it didn’t pump since the tank was empty. I asked why he was selling it and he said it was just taking up too much room in the bed of his truck so he was going to downsize to a 40 gallon tank and get a new pump wired directly into his electrical system. So now we got to the point where we would cut to the chase. I knew a new one was $800 so I figured he would ask somewhere between $400-500, but I decided I wouldn’t pay a cent over $350. I asked for the price and he said “I need $100 for the tank and $100 for the pump. I am firm on the price but I will sell them separately if you don’t want them both.” I said SOLD! So much for my horse trading skills, huh? Now it is sitting behind my barn, waiting for my new addition to be added to my barn. I finally got the original builder of my barn to come and give me a quote on an addition, (after a month of calling) and I hope construction starts soon. I need more space!


Speaking about Tractor Supply, this is a semi trailer blown over on their parking lot. The last storm front blew through here with 50-60 MPH winds, it was pretty rough going for a while. The weathermen are all calling for the Polar Vortex to return this week, so I have been getting ready.


I put a big stack of firewood on the back porch, and I have a stack in the fireplace primed and ready to go. All I have to do is touch a match to the paper and we will be all warm and toasty!


The weather was nice and warm today so I went across my new culvert and walked through the woods this afternoon. I spotted this huge hornet’s nest in the trees. It was about 2 feet tall, so it would hold a lot of hornets! I found one like it in the front of the homestead last fall, so I will have to be careful as I am wandering around in warm weather. I wouldn’t want to bump into one of these while the hornets were home! More to come tomorrow, keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update

31 Jan

I wanted to give you an update on the happenings at our homestead. There really has not been much going on due to the record cold weather we have been having. I know it has been much worse for those of you further North, but it has been cold enough here that I haven’t spent much time outside. Last weekend the weather finally broke and we had above average temps so we cranked up the tractor and did some brush clearing in the front area by the road.


You might remember we have four old, nearly dead trees on either side of the driveway.


There are quite a few limbs falling out of the trees that need to be cleaned up.


I turned those old snags into a couple of buckets full of firewood, and with the cold temps we have been having it really came in handy!


Now I need to clean up these saplings by pulling them up with the tractor. I don’t want to cut them down and leave all those stubs to have to mow over later. I will have to give you an update on that later because I had some trouble with my tractor and had to call the mechanic. The starter is stuck, it won’t disengage! I tapped on it with a hammer to try to unstick it, but it just kept whirring. I finally had to disconnect the battery to get it to stop. Well, the weather is going to take a turn for the worse again next week so I guess it is a good time for the tractor to be out of commission and in the shop. Keep prepping everyone.

Lizard Brain

6 Apr


I was sitting at my desk this afternoon and I heard a strange sound. I looked out the window and I saw sleet pellets bouncing off of the AC unit outside my window. My, what lovely weather we are having for the 12th day of Spring. Seeing that sleet made me feel cold, and since I still had some firewood stacked up on the porch I decided to build a fire. Now, I can’t do any more work, I find myself sitting here quietly all alone just staring into the fire. Sometimes it does a man’s soul good to just stare into the fire and listen to the voices in the flames speak to the lizard brain. If you don’t understand what that means I don’t know if I can explain it to you but I will try. If you don’t understand it you certainly need to go out some evening in the boonies and camp and sit around a camp fire. You might think it strange, but you can take a group of rowdy and robust men and put them around a fire and watch the dynamic change throughout the evening. First, there will be lots of horseplay and laughing and joking around, but then as the evening progress a change will take place. Eventually all the men will become quiet and sit motionless, almost in a Zen like state of mediation, each of them staring into the fire, transfixed on listening to the voices in the flames. These voices speak to the lizard portion of the brain, or the amygdala in scientific terms. This is a part of your brain that does not engage in rational thought, it is part of your brain that is only concerned with self, and satisfying your primal needs. This is part of the brain that is primitive and unthinking, only concerned with survival. As civilized men, we have learned to suppress this part of our brain to some extent in order to survive and co-exist with other people. This is the part of your brain primarily concerned with sex and reproduction, fear, fighting or flight, and just basic survival. This is the part of the brain that takes over when you are fighting for your life or protecting your children. The lizard brain has a very simple logic, kill or be killed, eat or be eaten, survive or die. Each of us has a lizard brain but it is suppressed more in some of us than others. When you sit around the fire staring into the flames, that part of your brain remembers dormant memories from thousands of years ago while your ancestors were sitting around their own fires in the wilderness. I can imagine the picture in my mind, just as clearly as if I were actually sitting there. I see men sitting in a circle around a fire wearing animal skin clothing, clutching a spear in their hand, listening to the wolves howl in the night, circling around the camp just out of range of the light. I can see the women sitting inside the circle of men next to the fire, clutching babies to their breasts, hoping the firelight will keep the wolves at bay until morning. But through it all, our ancestors had the strength and determination to survive the danger and hardships. It is soothing and comforting to me to know this part of my brain is still alive and well and that I have it totally under control, but it is still there if I need to call upon it. So for now I just stare into the flames, listening to the voices, and remembering ancient memories.

Fire Safety

22 Dec

Last month I bought three fire extinguishers for our new home. I put one of them upstairs in the attic by the heating unit. I put one in the garage and I put the third one beside the fireplace. What better place to have an extinguisher than right beside an open, live fire, right?


So there it sits, right beside the fireplace for anyone to grab and use if something bad happens and the fire gets out of control. Well, Sweet Thing says “I’m not going to have that ugly, red extinguisher sitting out in the open like that.” I told her it is supposed to be out in the open so everyone can see it and be able to find it in an emergency. Now we have to camouflage it so it can’t be seen, but she says both of us will know where it is. So, she comes up with this big, heavy, ceramic Urn for me to lug into the house.


It looks like it will fit OK.


So there it sits, ready for instant use, but with all that glaring red ugliness hidden away inside a beautiful decorative Urn. Be safe everyone.

Construction Update 47

29 Nov

The crew that put the granite counter tops in the kitchen put the same granite around the fireplace.


I built a nice little fire this morning while the contractor was installing the wood floors upstairs. I wanted to check out the fireplace to be sure it was working correctly while the contractor was still working at the house. Everything worked perfectly!



The tile man is putting the tile around the bath tub in the master bath. He is using this wet saw to cut the tiles. It is going to take him a lot of time because he is a perfectionist, but it is going to be so worth it. More to come.

Construction Update 42

21 Nov


They put in the electrical service last week. Until now, we have been using electricity from a temporary service pole, this is the regular meter. I am going to paint all that grey plastic with matching brown paint. You can see where the mud is splashing up onto the bottom rows of bricks because we don’t have any grass or mulch to protect the ground. I plan on getting some bales of straw next week and spreading them out under the drip line. That will give a little protection until I can do some landscaping next year.


They also ran the gas line and installed the meter, although it is not hooked into the house yet. We are waiting for the plumber to come do that and then we can fire up the heat!


These are the men from the gas company welding the lengths of gas pipes together before they put them in the trench. They welded them together then drug them over to the trench in one long unit instead of doing it piece by piece, they said it was faster that way.


These are the AC units. They were installed 2 weeks ago but they have not been run and tested yet.


These are the heating units installed upstairs in the attic. They have not been run and tested yet either.


When they do fire up the heating units I will be ready. I bought 3 of the largest fire extinguishers that I could find. One will be kept by the heating units, which is also next to the chimney in the attic. One of the extinguishers will be kept near the fireplace and the other will be kept in the laundry room by the dryer. I will get a special unit for grease fires to keep in the kitchen. More tomorrow.

Construction Update 16

27 Jul

A lot of things are happening at once now. We made a mad dash to Memphis to pick-up the fireplace insert we bought last April.


Here it is sitting in it’s proper place in the corner so they could get the chimney installed.



This is the double-walled pipe we are using. We went with an insert because it was less expensive and safer. The manufactured box is rated for a hotter fire than most brick fireplaces and is still cool enough on the outside to allow wood walls to be within 2 inches of the metal.


This is the chimney box, covered with roofing felt. The bricklayer will install some sort of thin stone veneer to the outside once Sweet Thing picks it out. More to come!

Preparedness; Part 3

26 Jan

Continuing on with our discussion about preparedness, let’s talk about staying warm. Most of you who live in rural areas, especially in northern climes, have multiple sources of heat. You realize it is best to not be solely dependent on one means of staying warm. You may have electricity or natural gas as your primary means of heat, but you probably have a backup plan. This plan may be a fireplace or wood-burning stove. You may also have a propane burning heater with one of those big tanks sitting outside of your house. You may have a smaller bottle of propane with a heater you attach to the tank such as the Mr. Heater buddies. This is the tough buddy.


This is the small buddy.


This is the tank mounted buddy.


If we had a weather emergency here in Tennessee, you could survive without any heat if you stayed inside, dressed warmly, and piled blankets on top of yourself. I’m not saying you couldn’t get really uncomfortable without heat, but it probably wouldn’t kill you. But in some places it could get cold enough to be life threatening, and I know most of you in those places are already prepared, so this advice is for newcomers to the idea of prepping.


You can also get a kerosene heater like this one and it would keep most homes warm enough to stay comfortable during a winter storm.


If you read my post from a few days ago you will remember we had tornado watches for the area. I had advanced warning and I had time to double check on my storm preps. One item I have neglected to mention until now is a radio. A radio will keep you up to date with the storm warnings and provide a little entertainment if the electricity goes off. I have one like this which is battery powered, but it also has a hand-crank feature. You can wind it up and play for 30 minutes without battery power. So in review, we have discussed having water, food, medicines, pet food, a can opener, a means of heating up the food, a source of light, a source of heat, and an emergency radio. We will continue this discussion later, until then, be safe!