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Adding A Wood Stove To Your Homestead

Wood burning stove in homesteadWell, with October half over and Halloween approaching, the night are certainly getting much cooler here in Colorado.

Winter is just around the corner, and if you’re in the market for a wood or pellet stove, this is a good time to buy one and have it installed in your home.

In the previous blog post we talked about cast iron radiators, but many homesteads in the country aren’t set up for hot water heat, and a good quality wood stove is the best option.

Some folks who do have central heating still buy a wood stove to supplement the heating in their homes, especially in the rooms where the family spends the most time, like in the livingroom or kitchen.

And in fact if the temperature is above freezing outside, often a wood or pellet stove is all you need to keep the entire house warm enough to live in, and much cheaper to operate than a central heating system.

Things to consider when purchasing a wood stove.

There are a wide variety of choices available in stoves, and not just wood or pellet burning models either. There are a number corn burning stoves on the market today, and oil burning models as well. Each has it’s pros and cons, depending on the type of fuel that works best for you, the efficiency of the stove, emissions, how it is constructed, heat output, safety, and of course your budget.

One consideration is whether to buy a cast iron or welded steel stove. The cast iron models are more attractive than welded models, but they cost more, and after a few years they need to be rebuild to seal the joints between the steel panels to keep them from leaking.

Stove efficiency is another important consideration. The newer, certified stoves tend to be more energy efficient than the older models, as combustion technology has improved. Just as newer cars are more efficient at using gasoline, newer wood burning stoves are about one-third more efficient than the older pot belly or box style stoves. This might not sound like much, but consider the fact that you’ll only have to cut and haul two-thirds the amount of wood, and you’ll spend one-third the money if you buy your firewood. Plus efficiency also translates into less emissions, which makes these newer stove better for the environment as well.

If you would like to read a more detailed buyers guide for buying wood or pellet stoves you can visit the site below.

Wood Heat.org website

 

Modern Homesteading

A homestead in a verdant country settingMany people in the United States think of homesteading as the mass migration West in the 1800s, when the Homestead Act offered free land to hardy people who were willing to stake out a claim and live off the land.

But homesteading is still alive and well today, and more and more people are leaving urban areas to pursue a life of freedom and self-sufficiency in the country.

Homesteading means different things to different people, but it’s basically a “back-to-the-land” movement where folks live a life of self-reliance and self-sufficiency. Homesteaders grow their own food (or most of it anyway), preserve their own food for the winter, and make many of their own necessities, including clothing, textiles, crafts, and even cosmetics.

Many homesteaders also live “off the grid,” and use solar panels or wind turbines to heat their water and generate their electricity. Some choose to go without cable TV or internet access, and even cell phones in come cases. Homesteaders are an independent lot, and many find this disconnection from society liberating.

Homesteaders are artisans, farmers, writers, retired city dwellers, mothers and fathers, hunters, fishermen, young couples looking for a simpler life, and just about everything in between. This back-to-the-land lifestyle offers health benefits, peace of mind, family values and the direct benefits of a person’s labor.

Homesteading has many options

There are no hard and fast rules to homesteading. In fact, you can live in the city and practice “urban homesteading” with  sustainable agriculture and eco living techniques that provides a self-sufficient lifestyle just about anywhere.  People on urban homesteads use minimal resources, are self-reliant, and save money and energy all at the same time.

Many people who choose a rural homesteading lifestyle are isolated somewhat in that they’re not typically part of a village or other community. This is part of the draw for many folks who value their privacy, and who just want to be left alone to live as they please. Other homesteaders band together and live in small groups where they can work and socialize with their neighbors.

There’s a perception among the public that homesteaders and “back-to-the-land” practitioners have a much lower cost of living compared to folks living in the city. But that’s usually not the case, and in fact small scale farming and green energy production can actually be more expensive than buying groceries at the supermarket and getting your heat and electricity from the utility company.

For most homesteaders, living off the land is a lifestyle choice rather than a way to save money, and they get a deep satisfaction from growing their own food, making their own textiles and fertilizer, and generating their own electrical needs. They love the independence this lifestyle affords them, and the healthy benefits of hard work and freshly grown food pulled straight from the soil.

Urban homesteading is gaining in popularity

As mentioned earlier, you don’t have to live in a rural area to be a modern homesteader. Urban or “backyard” homesteading is becoming increasingly popular in many major cities across the US, the trend is growing as people look to become more self-sufficient, spend less money on groceries, and reduce their carbon footprint all at the same time.

It’s been shown that with efficient organic gardening methods, it’s possible to feed a family of four – year round – on less than a quarter acre of land. Gardening is allowed just about everywhere in the city, and many municipalities even allow some livestock to be raised on your property, including chickens, pigs, rabbits and goats.

This sort of “square foot” or small-scale farming allows the urban homesteader to grow not only fresh vegetables, but also nuts, fruits, herbs, and grains. Grains can be made into breads, pastas and even beer. Herbs can be turned into herbal teas and homeopathic medicines. You could even grown grapes in your backyard and turn them into homemade wine.

And with the proper preservation methods, you can can, freeze, or dehydrate your home-grown foods and enjoy them throughout the winter months. There’s really almost no limit to what the backyard homesteader can accomplish with a little imagination, hard work, and ingenuity.

How much land do you really need?

Beware of buying more land than you really need when purchasing land in the country for your new homestead. Remember that land needs to be cared for even if it’s not being cultivated. Otherwise you’ll find yourself with acres of land that’s going fallow, and becoming overgrown with weeds, brush, trees and just about any other wild thing that sprouts up out of the ground.

Also remember that land costs money, and you’ll have a yearly property tax assessment to pay as well. So how much land should you be looking to buy? For most people, ten or fifteen acres is plenty for a homestead or small scale farm, and many get by with a lot less, especially if it’s good, fertile land. And if you plan on heating your home with a wood stove, you might consider buying a few acres of additional woodlot land and save some money in heating expenses at the same time.

Know what you’re getting into before moving to a rural homestead

Homesteading can be a wonderful lifestyle, and a way to connect with the land and nature, be more self-sufficient, and explore a deeper relationship with our spouse and family. Many people (especially folks raised in the city) have a romantic vision of this Little House On The Prairie life where everything is peaches and cream, and everyone gets along great all the time.

Make no mistake, homesteading, farming, or ranching can be an incredibly rewarding way of life, but it’s not for everyone.  Simply moving from the city to the country isn’t going to make all your problems go away, and this kind of frontier living is a lot of hard work. There are usually more chores that can be accomplished in one day, you may have animals to take care of, and if you’re a social person who likes a lot of co-workers around when you work, you might be disappointed.