Outdoor Wood Boiler III

November 24, 2010

The firepit.  I haven’t let the fire go out since I started it about a month ago.  I’ve gone 14 hours between fills.

The hot water goes to a heat exchanger above the water heater, first.  I’m hoping this will save on my electric bill.

The hot water then travels to a radiator which was placed in the plenum of my original furnace.  The fan from the furnace blows air across the radiator when heat is needed.

The blue pipe is something which is new to me,  Pex pipe.  I appreciated how fast and easy it is to work with.

Now I just need more of this!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Outdoor Wood Boiler II

November 23, 2010


Outdoor wood boiler, ready to unload.  Mel uses his bobcat to set it into place.  At the front of the bobcat is the water line in black, plastic pipe. 

There are two water lines within the black pipe.  Incoming in red, and outgoing in blue.  The hot water continually circulates via a pump.  The water lines are also covered in insulation within the black pipe.  It was a real pain to drill through the basement wall.

The water pump is on the left.  Bottom center is the fan, which kicks in when the temperature of the water decreases to a certain level.  I can adjust the temperature of the water.  Right now, the fan shuts off when the water temperature reaches 145 degrees F.

Outdoor Wood Boiler I

November 22, 2010

I purchased and helped install an outdoor wood boiler to heat our house.  I purchased the 250 gallon model from Nature’s Comfort, mainly due to the sales and service of Mel Flogel.  It wasn’t cheap.  The basic unit was $6500, but including everything pushes the cost close to $10,000.  It will take a few years to pay back over the heating oil I used before, but I’ll feel better, keeping the house warmer for my family.

First I had to pour a pad of concrete.

Then I had to dig a four foot deep trench for the water lines.  I rented a bobcat with a trencher attatchment from K&L Bobcat.

Citygirlfriend said, “Why didn’t you ask for a person to run it?  They have to deliver it right?  It probably wouldn’t have been much more expensive.”

“Because I want to run it.”

I figure if they are willing to turn me loose on a $50,000+ machine with very little instruction, I better take advantage.  When will I get another opportunity to run this bad boy?

It was tough-going by the house.  I think they backfilled with rock along the foundation.  After I got farther away from the house, though, it was easy.  Rich, black dirt, all the way down.

The one thing the trencher doesn’t do well, is turn.  So I had to lift the trencher, and manuever the bobcat on the curves.  Unfortunately, I found the trench on one of my manuevers and got the bobcat stuck.  No worries, Dad got a tractor and pulled me out.

I’ll have a couple more posts on this subject.

Artificial Insemination of Swine II

November 12, 2010

I wrote about how we use Artificial Insemination to bring new genetics into our swineherd in one of my very first posts, “Artificial Insemination of Swine.” Click on the link if you want to read about our AI protocol.

I didn’t use any pictures in the beginning, because I didn’t have access to a camera.  My sister bought us a digital camera, and I’ve loved it.  So easy. When we AI’d some sows in October, I snapped a few photos.

Final Harvest

November 6, 2010

Cows harvesting the standing hay and cornstalks on my contour strips.  Here is a picture taken right before corn harvest.

The cows above are the ones the vet. confirmed pregnant when we pregnancy checked at the end of October.  I wrote about my expectations, and the problems we faced this breeding season.  90% of the cows and heifers ended up being bred with a 60 day breeding season for the cows, and a 45 day breeding season for the heifers.  10% open is normal for us and acceptable.  We have an excellent market for hamburger, so the cows that didn’t breed end up as beef.  We have appointments with our butcher over the next month.

Below is a cow which didn’t breed, and Wilma, of course.  The open cows are grazing one of our best remaining pastures.  I was thinking about the life they lead.  I think it’s pretty good.  They get to be in a herd of peers, eating quality forage, moving weekly, breeding, raising young.  Up until the bolt-gun shatters their brain, it’s not a bad life.

We took the boys to a city-wide Halloween party.  A friend gave me the low-down on the best place to go trick-or-treating: the manor, or old-folks-home.  The residents are seated in a semi-circle, each holding a bucket of candy.  It’s funny, because whatever aversion a child has to old people is overcome by the lure of easy candy.

I don’t know what kind of life each person has had, but the ending can be difficult.  We all want to live a good life and die in our sleep.