Saturday, January 10, 2015

Quiet winter nights (?)

Here's the most recent picture of my darling daughter in "adorable" pose. She was being carried in the baby sling while mom got some cooking done. Mommy wanted a shuftie of this new experience, because, well, we've become the parents who constantly take pictures of their kid and post them on FaceBook. The picture came out very well, so although I'm become self-critical of this new family trait, I thought I'd repost it here.

Here's the full context. Aimee seems to like this bandolier-type set up.

For my part, I tend to just try to hold Roo in one hand, while I cook, do dishes, and attempt other household chores with my other. I can get quite a bit done this way, and Roo seldom cries while being carried, as long as you're doing something. This is good because it helps me find time to cook and keep house.

Finding time for blogging, however, has been hard since Roo was born. But I've learned that I can keep up with it, albeit at a slower and more deliberate rate. This farm blog, which is only one of the several I run, is hardest to maintain since it's not something I do for work, while the other blogs are, but I seem to have found a kind of rhythm.

Put simply, whenever I can't sleep, I can blog. That's what I'm doing right now. Aimee, exhausted by nursing, is trying to get Roo to sleep by herself in the crib, a major psychotherapy project, and the poor kid has been crying all night because she doesn't like sleeping by herself very much. Call me soft, but I can't sleep through my daughter's crying, so after an hour or so I had to get up. That gave me a chance to blog.

Previously I would blog whenever I felt like I had something interesting to relate in the way of household or garden or mechanical projects. Looking over how I've blogged since August, I realize that the different routine since Roo's birth has required a different technique. For one thing, I'm doing far less in the way of projects. For another, there's no overall topic to each piece. I tend to start with news of Roo, appropriate because that's what family and friends want to hear. Then I give a rundown of notable events since the last post. Each post is a mish-mash.

This, and the slower rate of posting, seems to have lost me about a third to a half of my readers, just quickly looking at the stats. Apologies for that. But I guess this is just the way it has to be.

As for news of projects, all the insulation and air-sealing work on the house, and all the attention to insulation and air-sealing done while building the extension has certainly paid off during the recent cold snap. The temperature readings have been well below zero for several nights and not much above zero during the day, but the house has been really cosy and comfortable, none of the drafts and cold spots we used to experience. Our power bill for November was less than last year, and our firewood is lasting well. All in all, I can't see us paying more than about $1,000 for heat this year, which is pretty good for what was once a horribly drafty hundred-and-fourteen-year old farmhouse.

It used to require 700 gallons of heat oil and ten cords of wood to heat this home when the previous occupants had it. Now we're down to two cords and fifty gallons, plus about 1500kWh of electrical heat.

I'm not sure Aimee has noticed any of this, of course, even though it means success for what has been about an eight-year project, overall. She seems to take it all for granted.

But it's nice to know my wife and kid will be cosy through the coldest nights of a Maine winter, and that the bills for keeping them so cosy are affordable.

The other big news is that I took the Camry in for a paint job. I'm a total anorak about rust and making my vehicles last, I know, and I probably should get some therapy. But I think it pays off in reduced bills and even reduced climate emissions. After all, it costs energy to build a car as well as run it.

The Camry is a 1997 model and should probably be in the junkyard by now, but is in great mechanical shape, has only 110,00 miles, and has virtually no rust. It just took us all to Virginia and back to see the relatives, perfectly safely, with not a peep of any mechanical difficulty. It does, however, have some pretty worn-out original paint, with scratches and blisters all around, and not a few small dents. I found a couple sixty-something brothers who have run a paint shop in Newburgh for several decades, who will bondo it up and spray it up for around a thousand bucks. I think this is worth it, but we'll see. The car should be done today.

Finally, we're back to work Monday after the long winter break. This semester will be a milestone at work, of sorts, because it will be the first time that Roo has to go into childcare. At just four months old, she's still way too young, but we have to earn a living. We've managed to get teaching schedules that don't overlap, the first and last time that will ever happen. But we still have a few meetings to attend. Our friends Will and Eileen have two very young girls, and Eileen, who has qualifications, is considering some more formal childcare or day school business. She plans to dip her toe into this particular adventure by taking Roo for a few hours here and there. They want to trade, and so I may be helping them with some automotive repair, or possibly by wiring a rental flat retrofit project they have going on. Their girls seem to like Roo, and Roo seems to like them, so this will probably be a good deal all around.

At the very least it will help mitigate the heavy psychological effects of having two anti-social hermits for parents.

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Welcome to our Farm Blog.
The purpose of this blog is for Aimee and I to communicate with friends and family, with those of our students, and other folks in general who are interested in homesteading and farming activities.

The earliest posts, at the very end of the blog, tell the story of the Great Farm, our purchase of a fragment of that farm, the renovation of the homestead and its populating with people and animals. Go all the way to the last post in the archive and read backwards from there to get it in chronological order.

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