The Grovestead

Farm, Family, Fun.

Category: Woods

A Barn Razing

Removing the siding

When we moved to this property three years ago it came with few outbuildings in varying degrees of disrepair. The previous owners had already torn down a traditional barn that had literally collapsed a few years prior. Next to it stood a giant red shed that, by the time we came, was also collapsing. Too dangerous to use, too dilapidated to restore, it served its purpose as a quaint backdrop to family pictures. But a farm needs a barn, and the time has come to bring it back.

Part of building a new barn meant preparing the ground for new construction. So the red shed had to come down.

Red shed stripped of siding

Of course, we saved all that beautiful weathered barn wood. We’re looking forward to using in future projects.

Weathered barnwood siding

Several friends from our church and Becca’s parents joined us, making for a quick demolition. After removing all the siding and cutting a few supports it came down pretty easily.

After the shed came down we had to clear a large swath of saplings that had overgrown the site where we want to situate the new barn. I figured out a pretty effective disposal method that involved cutting, dragging, and burning.

Cutting down and clearing saplings

Dragging trees to burn pile

Using the tractor to push trees into the burn pile

I also got to use a chainsaw and tractor. As I told Becca, a man will take any excuse to use a chainsaw and tractor. Excavation finished last week and construction begins tomorrow. Lots more pictures to come!
 


Hearth and home

Vermont Castings Defiant wood stove

Among the most sought-after but always elusive features of the homes we have lived in is a fireplace. One of my favorite childhood memories was warming up feet-first next to the fireplace in our family room on a cold winter night. Becca and I have moved many times, but never to a home with a fireplace. I always lamented that.

This trend continued when we moved to our house in the country where the previous owners had knocked down the 19th-century fireplace and hearth a few years prior to our arrival. If they only knew! Needless to say, one of our most anticipated upgrades was the installation of our own wood-burning stove.

Living on three acres of woodland we knew that a fireplace was in the cards. Clearing out the deadwood alone would be enough to heat our house for several years. We looked half-heartedly the first year but never settled on exactly what we wanted.

But last winter, with historic cold and propane shortages, we paid literally thousands of dollars to heat our home. That sealed the deal.

We found an installer and got to work. It took most of the summer for all the pieces to come together, but it finally did and not a day too soon.

Hearth

The hearth is comprised of Old World-style tumbled brick. Our kids found it a fitting play stage.

Kids playing on the hearth

Carrying wood stove through front entryway

Installing wood stove

After a long delay, our new wood stove finally arrived! Wood stoves are far more efficient than open fireplaces. Since we wanted to augment or replace our furnace heating, we needed to maximize heat output. We went with a Vermont Castings Defiant model. It has a huge firebox capable of putting out 75,000 btu’s per hour. It also has a cookplate surface so it could double as a cookstove in an emergency.

Using a mechanic log splitter

While waiting for the stove to arrive this Fall, I got to work splitting wood we had already cut and set aside to dry. Initially, I roped one of my neighbors into bringing his hydraulic wood splitter over and making quick work of the wood pile.

But then I discovered how much fun it is to split wood by hand. No, really!

Splitting wood with a maul

Truckload of split wood

Beginnings of our wood pile

We have a bit more than one cord of wood split and ready to use. Looks like a lot. But I came to realize that’s only about a fifth of what we’ll need for the whole winter.  Guess I’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors this winter. As Pa Ingalls said: “Chop your own firewood and it’ll warm you twice.”

Outside winter is coming

Soon after the stove was installed the snow started falling. We started a fire and turned off the furnace. Every day since we’ve had a radiant fire and a warm house.

 


Burn pile before-and-after

Burn pile radiating heat and smoke

We lit our first burn pile yesterday. We’ve been waiting for the right weather conditions: not too windy, not too wet, not too cold (because we’d be outside a lot tending it). Yesterday met all of those conditions, so with grandpa’s help we got things started.

Large flames off the burn pile

Burn pile flames

Grandpa and boy watching bonfire burn pile

We started the fire around 11am and within 45 minutes half the pile was gone. Unbelievable how hot it was. We kept it going with grove clearings most of the day. One of our neighbors even stopped by with a cartload of garden debris. By 7pm only the large logs were left.

Before

Burn pile before looking east

After

Burn pile after looking east

 


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