Thanks For Nothing Month, Day 5: Natural Home Heating

Reader Contribution by Annie Warmke
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“Just for today I will take some moments to think about times when I have made good life decisions.”


There’s an arctic blast headed our way. The temperatures they are predicting are almost unbelievable, they’re so low. Every time I hear the forecast on the radio I gasp out loud. All I can think of is how hard it’s going to be on the livestock, and folks who are homeless. Over our morning tea we talked about the fact that current weather predictions include rain, then freezing temperatures, then snow. This type of weather usually causes large electrical outages, and may create a life-threatening situation. It’s difficult to imagine how people can live without a backup heating system. I would be terrified that the electricity would go off in this weather.  If that were to happen here, the only impact would be concerns over how to keep the water for the livestock from freezing.

Using a Rocket Mass Heater Rocket Stove

It seems only common sense that you don’t depend on one source for life-giving heat. Things break, you know. It isn’t necessary to heat every air molecule in the room (although most home heating relies on this premiss), but folks should at least be able to survive any of the problems life may throw at them. The sunroom is a good example.  We used to only consider this a three-season room – but since the rocket stove has been installed, it has grown another season.  The rocket stove performs several functions, including heating a beehive oven for baking, heating a large bench (filled with clay and the stove’s exhaust pipe), and also heating the water that passes through the radiant floor heating system.  Three great ways to warm the room. By using just the stove, we have managed to keep the sunroom at 55F, even though it does not have insulated windows, and the temperature outside has dropped to zero with a fierce wind.  Of course this helps to keep one end of the main house warmer, the end of the house towards the wind.  The down side is that we must remember to feed wood into the stove every 30 minutes or so.  Jay insists he will expand the feed area next year, so it will be less of a chore.  But feeding the stove is well worth the effort – if only to avoid the worry of what might happen if the electricity were to suddenly go dark.

Heating for Livestock

The rest of the farm isn’t quite that lucky though.  We have to haul water when the rain barrels freeze, and they are frozen solid right now.  We’ve cheated with our electric use this year to keep the critters supplied with warm water (heated buckets).  The chicken chalet (hen house) and the Chicken Run (temporarily housing some re-homed roosters) have heated water, plus the Chicken Run has a heat lamp focused on the big waterer to keep the temperature high enough to avoid frost bit rooster combs. As the weather worsens, I find myself completely focused on the temperatures inside and out of the house.  My life revolves around putting wood in the stove, keeping the hot water containers full, and preparing food to be cooked in the rocket stove while it’s hot.  There’s a lot of work waiting for me on the computer, but for now, I’m content to focus on the true basics of life – and savoring the richness of warmth.



Leftover peach crisp

Early Evening Meal

Oat bread
Gluten-free macaroni and cheese
Salad greens with flaked white fish
Raspberry/peach crisp