24 September 2008

Keeping the home fires burning

Our trusty workhorse Pilgrim got harnessed this morning for the first time since spring. He is a willing and intelligent horse, we were lucky to find him. At 12 years old, he is still in his prime, and he must have been treated well during his years on the harness race track because his tendons and feet are sound. He gets most of the summer off due to the horseflies, they flock to him 20 and 30 at a time and make steady work very difficult. And he gets winter to himself as well. But come spring and fall we certainly rely on him to bring wood down to the homestead. Wood is our fuel for heating, cooking and hot water, and we use bush timber to build barns and outbuildings. On the wagon behind Pilgrim is about three-quarters of a cord of wood. It was his first time pulling the wagon so we didn't load it up. He easily pulled it so we will be able to bring our wood down one cord at a time. In a year we burn about six cords of mostly birch and poplar, and use fir thinnings for building material.

This is the beginning of the winter wood pile, we make sure there are some good sized birch logs for the cold nights in January and February.The home fires are burning all year round in my kitchen. But we are beginning to keep the fire burning at night as well. In the summers I get the fire going at 6am and aim to have all of the cooking done for the day by 8am, including a thermos of tea and summer meals we don't mind eating cold. We work outside in the morning and the house is cooled down by noon for lunch, and a bit of a nap in the heat of the day. I bake quick breads, crackers and pasta in the summer, and save the yeast breads for cooler weather. August pickles get the place a bit sticky, but I have them prepared the night before and get them done on the morning fire. This time of year I start baking again, not quite loaves of bread, but at least english muffins and cinnamon rolls. Winter is the height of baking luxury, I have a pre-heated oven ready for my every craving!

Bring on the apples. Pilgrim always gets a carrot or an apple for his work.


Susy said...

I'm sure he's loving his life!

Anonymous said...

we actually have wood stove we're hoping to get running soon as well. Great post, and pilgrim is so handsome!

Janine said...

That is so awesome you can cook that much on your wood stove! I would love to learn to do that like my great grandma had to! I also applaud you for being off grid! My husband grew up like that so I am not sure if he would want to go back to that kind of life... hahaha

Freija and Beringian Fritillary said...

susy, I don't think he has much but the horseflies to complain about. We depend on him, but we also enjoy having him around. There's something about horses, I love the smell and warmth of their breath, and their gentle strenth.

farm mom, that's great! Is it a cookstove? I have been thinking of posting a tutorial about cooking on a woodstove. It certainly makes sense for winters in the country.

Janine, we are actually not nostalgic about the way we live. We do not choose to live this way as a means to live in the past. The way things are going, this may be the way of the future. The wood cookstove and the horse are appropriate technologies that best match our needs and our resources.