Thursday, August 8, 2013

Closing on the house

Yes! We are finally ready to close on the house! I spoke to the bank (actually, the banker) yesterday and we are scheduled for closing on Tuesday. It has been a long time since we moved out to the farm, and it's kind of hard to believe that this is actually going to happen. We have been living in the garage for 18 months now, which is almost as long as we have lived in some of the houses in the past. We have watched as the house has (slowly) taken shape, little by little, and we have seen so many previous deadlines come and go. When we first moved a year ago February we thought we would be ready to move in before Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then New Year's, then by April, then before Abby's wedding in May, then by the 4th of July, and now here we are into the second week of August. Well, realistically, we are both of us very pleased at how the house has turned out. We didn't get everything we wanted, mostly because of money, but we did get almost everything in one form or another. For example, I wanted the fireplace in the basement to heat the whole house, but it turns out that no one makes fireplaces that do that, any more. But, we did get a fireplace that will heat the downstairs family room, and the upstairs living room. So, that is almost as good. It's a very nice fireplace that is air-tight. That means that it draws all of its combustion air from an outside vent, so it doen't take the warm air from the house to burn the fire. It has vents on the front to heat the family room and it has two vents that go up inside the fireplace to the living room floor upstairs.
You may notice that the mantle is a reddish wood.  I cut the mantle out of part of the cedar tree that was growing where the house is now located.  They had to take the tree out in order to put the house there.  It was about 60 feet tall and it had a double trunk.  Each trunk was about 24 inches in diameter at the base.  I cut up one trunk to make the boards that line the master closet, and part of that went to make the mantle for the fireplace.

Right here would be the photo I took of the tree before it was cut down, but for some reason it won't load.  So, just use your imagination.

Getting back to the wood cookstove, there is a bit of a story about the heat shielding around the stove.  Most of the time the wood cookstove in a house would be located in the middle of a big eat-in kitchen.  The kitchen would be big and square, and the cookstove would occupy the middle of the room.  It wouldn't be anywhere near the walls because it gets very hot when there is a fire in it.  The cast iron absorbs heat slowly and then gives it up slowly into the room.  For that reason most cookstoves would be used a lot in the winter when the heat is needed, and everyone would crowd into the kitchen during the winter because when the stove is going, the kitchen would be warm even when the rest of the house would be cold.  During the summer, many people would have a "summer kitchen" in a separate building out away from the house with its own cookstove.  That place would have lots of windows to let the heat out, and the cookstove in the house would not be used, or only rarely, to keep from heating up the house even more in hot weather.

So, in my little kitchen, the cookstove found its place in the corner over by the front hall.  So, it had to have some kind of heat shielding to protect the surrounding walls from the heat.  Our builder came up with the idea of using cement board around it, then covering the cement board with ceramic tiles.  There is no sheetrock there at all, just the cement board attached to the studs.

You can see that the cookstove is on a raised steel platform.  That helps to distribute the weight, and it gets it up to about the same level as the other kitchen countertops.  I guess the women who used these cookstoves a hundred years ago were shorter than people are today.  Remember, this is a real antique stove, made about 1900.  Wood cookstoves were used in many rural areas of the country until the 1950's, when electricity became commonly available.

With all the rain we have been having this last week the pond is quite a bit higher.  It's not full yet, but it is almost up to where it was in the spring before we had all that dry weather.  It makes the fish happy, they are discovering places in the pond that they haven't explored before.  I hope the water stays high until fall.  Then, when we get the fall and winter rains and the snow maybe it will fill up the rest of the way.  It should be about 1/3 of an acre when it is completely full.  That will give the fish enough room to reproduce, and to survive cold weather.  They need at least 8 feet of depth in order to make it through the winter.  The water at the bottom stays warmer, since it is close to the earth.  If this continues to do well, and the fish survive until next spring, then I will add large mouth bass to the mix.  The bass will help to keep the bluegill and the catfish from producing too many fish, as they will eat the small ones.  Then, in another year or two, the bass will be big enough to fish out (dinner for me).  Even so, I think the catfish and bluegill should be big enough by next summer for me to fish for them.  I like fresh fish.  I am not a fisherman by any means, but I like to eat fish.