This is our journal of what we pray is our sojourn of life (Hebrews 11:8-10) along the narrow way (Matthew 7:14), even the old paths (Jeremiah 6:16), submitting to the Bible as a light unto both (Psalms 119:105). It is our prayer that these documented moments in our earthly time benefit whom God might choose to edify, but ultimately that God glorifies Himself through them.

Category: warmth (Page 1 of 2)

Texas 2021 Arctic Blast: Our Homestead’s Version

Here’s a little around our homestead at the beginning and end of Texas’ 2021 arctic blast!

This was after the first main night — snow and cold, with forecasted windchills down to -18F. These were I believe our worst temperatures we’ve experienced here, even after the 2011 freeze. The thermometer says about 4F:

4F on the Thermometer

Here’s the homestead:

Frozen Homestead
More Frozen Homestead

I was a little worried about the cattle, given there are some young ones, but thanks to the Lord, they all made it through ok!

Cattle After Freezing Snow Storm
More Cattle After Freezing Snow Storm
Another of Cattle After Freezing Snow Storm

During the week, Sue’s “onesy” (coveralls) in front of the wood burning stove was the favorite for the domestics:

Mimi in the Onesy
William in the Onesy
Tuscan & Leila on the Onesy

On the first day after a week of these freezing temperatures, things started getting back to normal. Here’s our resident stray hanging out on the cistern spigot, which we had double wrapped with blankets the whole time, allowing us to use it too whenever we needed:

Mimi-Dude on the Cistern Spigot

And here are all the goat accoutrements hanging on the fence after Sue took them off:

Goat Coats on the Fence

Those were just a few pictures, but we show a lot more in this video, which has the day after the first main night as above, and then after coming out of it 5 days later (including a surpise from a momma cow!):

All throughout, the Lord was merciful in granting all the animals come through (yes, that missing rooster from the video showed up!), and helping Sue and me with strength to do all the care-taking!

We have no grid electric or water, which actually worked to our advantage, as we always had electric and good water as needed. We pray for those still suffering from the effects, but also hope people might consider their situation and on whom or what they depend for life sustenance.

We also saw how we believe God pre-set up provision before we really knew what was coming, even though they seemed a little “cross” to us at the time: the boy goats had knocked off the top of their hay bale, but Sue just took that hay into the barn, and it ended up being their main food for the week; and I had pre-put out hay bales for the cows, and one had been eaten down a lot and spread out by the time the cold hit, and another spread around some, but those also afforded bedding for the cattle. Also, both the tractor and truck starters went out at the same time a few weeks ago, we needed both for this cold front, and so they were ready to go.

Once again, we are very thankful for God’s help through 2021’s arctic blast, and for the gift of the new little heifer calf!

— David

January 2019 Community Work Day: Fence Fixing, Milo Gathering & Chimney Sweeping

This past community work day, we did half-day at our place, and the folks here graciously helped us accomplish a few projects…

First, over the years, in trying to get to the “grass that’s surely greener on the other side” of the fencing, the goats have put a pretty good leaning-angle in the fencing when their heads are through and they are pushing to get just that perfect morsel that’s as far away as their little necks can reach. 😉 Anyway, we had to straighten up the fencing on two sides by unclipping the fencing, pulling the t-post, re-pounding in the t-post, and then re-clipping the fencing. Here are the gents helping me with that:

Straitening Goat Fencing

And here, the Stonger boys are helping gather milo seeds from the field:

Gathering Milo

Then, it was time to try our first chimney sweeping. We used an adjustable ladder, uneven on one side, and Mr. Stronger held it in place on the roof while I worked the stove pipe.

After years, I believe the creosote “glued” on the cap, so I had to pound it off:

Removing Stove Pipe Cap

And then it was time to use the sweeper. For our metal chimney pipe, you’re supposed to use a poly brush so it doesn’t scrape up the metal.

I will conquer you o creosote, my foe! 😉

Ready with the Chimney Sweeper

And here’s the sweeping. One thing I forgot about was that near the bottom of the pipe there is a damper, so when I hit the stopping point, I kind of tried to push through it, and ended up bending the damper turner…oops. 🙂 :

Sweeping the Chimney

And then, putting the cap back on:

Putting Back On the Chimney Cap

Finally, here are some other sights from work day….

I’m not going to ask about this one… 😀 I’m with Joshua….must…get…away…quickly… 😉

Community Work Day Folks

Don’t wear out the youngin’s, Mr. Peck! 😉

Community Work Day Folks

A quarter for your thoughts…(inflation, you know) 😉

Community Work Day Folks

Tree climbing, supervised of course:

Community Work Day Folks

Community Work Day Folks

Community Work Day Folks

We all here are grateful to the Lord for Him granting us this opportunity to be here and live together and focus more of our lives on Him, and showing we love Him by loving and serving each other. We thank Him for the safety He granted, and Sue and I thank everyone for the help!

— David

A House – Update XXXVII – Final Attic Insulation

After a couple of years since we started putting insulation in the attic, and after last year laying down 6-8 feet insulation “fingers” coming out from the ends to plug up the gaps between the wall frames and ceiling panels, we’ve recently been able to finish laying down all of the insulation! Hopefully this will make a big difference in being able to maintain heat in the house.

And here are a couple of pictures of it all done:

Attic Insulation

Attic Insulation

And the attic access door:

Attic Door Insulation

My hope was to have this ready for winter, and the Lord graciously granted that it would be. Thanks to Him, and for those who help to make continued progress on the house possible!

— David

Compressed Paper Bricks

One day when bringing up the YouTube main page, there was a video thumbnail displayed with the title something about unlimited fuel for fires, and showed a bucket. Intrigued, I clicked on it, and it ended up being about a fellow who came up with an inexpensive way to press paper into burnable bricks using Home Depot buckets!

Here’s his video:

Nice! Simple and inexpensive…right up my alley! With all of the feed bags we have, I thought I’d give this a go!

Here’s the drilled out bucket:

Drilled Out Bucket

Then drawing the pressing block on a left-over piece of 2×12:

Drawing Block Circle

And the circle drawn:

Drawn Block Circle

Then being cut:

Cutting the Block

And finally cut out:

Circle Block Cut Out

After putting the drilled out bucket in another bucket, I added water and paper. We’ve been tearing up the feed bags, along with snail-mail waste, and old doctrinally-incorrect books we’ve had laying around 🙂 I’ve been letting it sit all day and over night:

Paper in Water in Bucket

I didn’t think I could make the saw blade device he made, but found a left-over broken goat lead tether we had laying around:

Paper Mulcher Cork Screw

And using that, it actually works pretty well to mulch up the paper:

Mulched Paper

Here the drilled-out bucket is stacked on the other bucket ready for pressing:

Buckets Stacked Ready for Pressing

And here the pressing block is set:

Circle Block in Bucket

Then a third bucket is set on that, and here, in first attempts, a cinder block to try to get it started:

Cinder Block Press

And then me laying on the cinder block:

Laying on Cinder Block to Press the Paper

And here’s the result when I tried to sit on that. Oops 🙂 :

Spilled Buckets & Water

But, coming up with a better way, I put a board across the pressing bucket, and am able to sit on it now no problem:

Sitting on Board to Press the Paper

And then, I tried putting a couple of feed bags on top, which frees me up for most of the pressing process — I just come back later and sit on it a bit to finish it off:

Feed Bags Pressing the Paper

And here’s the result!

Compressed Paper Brick

They fit nicely on the bucket lids, so here are several drying in the sun:

Drying Paper Bricks

And several finished ones:

Dried Paper Bricks

The only thing left is to try them once we get to where we’re using the wood burner this winter. It’ll be fun and interesting to see how they work!

Hopefully they will, and we’re thankful to the Lord for granting this idea to maybe be able to use some of the extra resources we have for good use!

— David

A House – Update XXXI – External Wall Insulation

With the wood-burning stove in place, and the ceiling panels all up, the last major piece of the house-heating puzzle was the rest of the external wall insulation. We had already done the bedroom insulation some time back, but now it was time to complete the other rooms.

First, I went around and stuffed insulation in all of the door frame gaps using a shim:

Door Frame Insulation

And then I started working my way around the house, beginning with the great room living room:

Great Room Living Room Wall Insulation

Then behind the cook stove and into the kitchen. I also took the heat barrier we had been using for our barn stove and put it behind the house one:

Great Room Kitchen Wall Insulation & Heat Barrier Behind Wood-Burning Cook Stove

Through the rest of the kitchen:

More Great Room Kitchen Wall Insulation

And finally in the library:

Library Wall Insulation

And there it was! Ready for guests!

And here is a picture from outside showing the lamps and candles lit in the house for the first time we had the group over for a community meeting on a cold night!

First Cold Weather Community Meeting in Our House After House External Wall Insulation From Outside

And from inside with the camera flash before everyone got there:

First Cold Weather Community Meeting in Our House After House External Wall Insulation

Once again, we are most grateful to the Lord for supplying the resources for continuing the house, to those out there who have helped with them, and we are very thankful and excited to be able to finally host the group, and hopefully in a bit of comfort. Last year, we had to cancel some meetings because the community center stove pipe is rusted through, so we’re glad we can now meet once again, to sing praises to God and learn about the Lord Christ, in unity together, we pray for His glory, even in colder weather!

May He grant us the heat of His charity in our hearts!

— David

A House – Update XXVIII – Wood-Burning Cook Stove

All along we have planned for our main sources of heat, for warmth and cooking, for the house to be wood burning stoves. Graciously, both Sue and my parents have been very supportive of us in our living out here, and in one of the ways from one of our parent sets was an offer to buy our cook stove for us. Wow, what a very nice gift! After much research by Sue, we chose a Kitchen Queen 380.

It has been sitting in the house for quite some time now, but with the ceiling almost complete and winter getting close, it was time for me to get to work getting it installed. And here is the process!

Here is the external pipe base installed in the attic:

Stove Pipe Base in Attic

And the back and sides of an insulation barrier. Based on a video I saw on the web, I chose to just put up OSB around it to keep out foreign matter. The front piece, not shown installed, was installed next, which had a little gap at the top to allow for air flow (which I’ll mention more about below with the starter section):

Stove Pipe Insulation Shield

Here is the base installed from inside:

Stove Pipe Base Installed

And something someone left up there. I suppose I should go retrieve it. 🙂 :

Peering Through the Stove Pipe Base

Next was to cut the hole in the roof. Needing to find the center of the hole, and not having a plumb bob, I used a tape measure on a string:

Tape Measure Plumb Bob

And here is the hole drilled:

Looking Up Tape Measure Plumb Bob

The external stove pipe requires two inches of spacing from combustible material, so I drew the circle appropriately:

Roof Stove Pipe Cutting Circle Drawn

And cut out the metal using tin snips:

Cutting Roofing Metal for Stove Pipe

And then used the jig saw to cut through the roof wood:

Roof Stove Pipe Hole Cut

And here is the roof hole ready:

Stove Pipe Base Form Roof Hole

The external stove pipe is held in place with a collar, so I needed to further prepare the roof metal to receive the collar:

Metal Roof Ridge Cut Out & Side Cuts

And I had to cut the collar piece to form to be able to slide into place:

Stove Pipe Collar Cut to Form

And here is the collar in place and caulked:

Stove Pipe Collar in Place & Caulked

Something needed to be done to cover the hole in the ridge left by the circle cut, and so I took a piece of left-over collar flashing, bent it and placed it, and caulked it in place:

Metal Roofing Ridge Hole Cover in Place & Caulked

And here is another view of the collar installed:

Another View of Stove Pipe Collar

After getting the collar in place, we had some storms heading through, so I duct-taped a plastic bag to the collar and put a step stone on top, which actually ended up working, even through a severe storm we had which knocked over one of our fruit trees:

Step Stone Covering Stove Collar in Roof Opening

Continuing on to the actual external stove pipe itself, because I’ve worked with it before, and because the base, cap, and collars come in a kit, I went with triple wall for the external pipe; and here are the two main pieces snapped together. I think I calculated I needed seven feet total (it needs to be high enough so it is far enough away from the roof so as to not be disturbed by roof turbulence), and to make it easy, went with two four-foot sections:

Assembled Triple Wall Stove Pipe

Originally, I was going to skip using the starter piece, because it is very expensive and I thought not really needed for pipe installation; but after doing further research, I discovered the holes in it actually filter air up between the walls of the piping to help keep it cool, so I thought that might be important; and so, we purchased it, and here is a stock photo of it:

Triple Wall Attic Starter Piece

I also added some wire mesh to help keep the birds out of the stove pipe cap:

Bird Nest Wire in Stove Cap

With this much pipe in the air, I figured I needed to secure it to the roof with guy wires, and I thought I would use plumber’s tape to make a “collar” on top, fastened with self-tapping screws:

Guy Wire Holder Installed on Stove Pipe

And here are the guy wires attached to the collar:

Stove Pipe Guy Wires Attached

With the stove pipe ready, and the starter piece attached too, I hauled it up to the roof and placed it in the collar, with Sue in the house telling me when the starter piece was set into the base hole. Then Sue joined me on the roof to continue with the installation, and William our cat thought he would join us too (he’s really good at scaling the ladder and hopping up onto the porch roof now — here, I think I helped him get up on the upper roof):

Triple Wall Stove Pipe Place in Roof Hole

For attaching the guy wires to the roof, I used eye hooks which I tried to make sure got screwed into a truss to hopefully secure them more strongly. And I added adjustable hooks for future changes to guy-wire tension as might be needed:

Stove Pipe Guy Wires Attached to Roof

Here Sue is helping level the pipe:

Leveling the Triple Wall Stove Pipe

And here it is originally in place:

Triple Wall Stove Pipe in Place

In tightening down the guy wires, the tension bolt on the plumber’s-tape collar pulled through the plumber’s tape. Hmmmm…hadn’t seen that one coming:

Guy Wire Stove Pipe Holder Broken

So I repaired it by closing the broken gap (I might have had to add some new plumber’s tape, but I don’t remember) and putting the tension bolt in another place. I added more fastener screws around the collar too:

Guy Wire Stove Pipe Holder Fixed

After that, I realized that the stove pipe was kind of jack-knifing at the pipe joint, and so I loosened the tension on the guy wires, straightened the pipe, and added screws to the pipe joint:

Stove Pipe Connections Fastened by Screws

I then re-tightened the guy wires, re-leveling as I went. There’s a running joke out here about not giving David the level, as I have a tendency to spend too much time getting it exactly correct, and I have had to learn to let go of that some, but….. when it is level, it is niiiiiice! 🙂

More Triple Wall Stove Pipe Leveling

With the triple wall in place, I needed to caulk the collar, using high-temperature, silicon caulking:

High Temperature Caulking Around Stove Pipe Collar

And also caulk the storm collar, slid into position over the collar opening:

High Temperature Caulking Around Stove Pipe Storm Collar

And I caulked the screws into the pipe holding the guy wire collar, just in case:

High Temperature Caulking On Guy Wire Pipe Collar Screws

Finally, here it is, reaching up to the sky!

Triple Wall Stove Pipe to the Sky

Then, it was time to head on inside. I planned to use step stones under the stove, but wanted to put them on a plywood base to hopefully help disperse the stove weight more evenly across the subfloor and double floor joists I put in this area:

Stove Step Stone Plywood in Place

And then I placed the stones:

Stove Step Stones in Place

The stove has been hooked up to a dolly since we moved it into the house, and Sue and I were able to get it to tilt back on the dolly so we could move it. I tried pulling the stove up onto the stones using the dolly, but couldn’t get it to roll up them. Here, Sue is maintaining the lean while I do some prep work:

Holding the Cook Stove on the Dolly

I added 2×4 wood pieces on the far side to keep the stones from sliding, and then made a little ramp, which worked nicely:

Stove Step Stone Ramp

And here it is with the free end resting on wood blocks.

Cook Stove on Stones on Wood Blocks

After doing some quick tilt back and single block removing maneuvers, so the stove wouldn’t come slamming down onto the stones, we needed a way to gently lower it, and we used the car floor jack, which worked great!

Using Car Floor Jack to Lower Stove Side

And here it is in position on the stones!

Wood Burning Cook Stove in Place

Next was the internal stove pipe, which is installed male end on top sliding into the female end below. At first I thought this would be wrong (after I had installed all of the piping!), but after investigating, it is correct — the smoke doesn’t come out the sides and is actually apparently sucked up the pipe with it this way; plus, it keeps the moisture inside the pipe and not dripping down the outside.

Here, I installed the damper in the first piece above the bread warmer of the stove:

Stove Pipe Damper Installed

And here is all of the pipe installed:

Internal Stove Pipe Installed

I used an adjustable section for the top, which slides into the top static piece:

Adjustable Stove Pipe Section Moved into Place

And then adjusts upward around the male end of the starter piece which sticks through the external stove pipe base:

Stove Pipe Adjustable Section Ready

We also received a water warmer for the stove, and here I’ve prepped it with the piping, cap and valve:

Preparing Wood Burning Stove Water Warming Tank

And here it is in place:

Wood Burning Stove Water Warming Tank in Place

And here is our first fire! Apparently, at least the first time, and some say at the beginning of each season, you’re supposed to light three to five light fires, letting it fully cool in between, to season the cast iron of the stove, which apparently can crack if it gets high heat before doing that:

Our First Wood Burning Cook Stove Fire

We look forward to eventually having the community over on cold days for meetings! And to maybe be warm during the really cold days around here. We have used a propane Mr. Heater Buddy since about the beginning in our very un-insulated camper, which has got us by, and we are very thankful for that; but maybe we’ll be a little warmer now. 🙂 And it’s hopefully one further step on getting less world-dependent.

We are very grateful to the Lord for Him allowing us a wood burning cook stove and to be able to have it installed now. And thanks much again to the Folks for this gracious gift, and the continued support from all our parents!

— David

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