Something interesting is happening.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a time lapse camera. If we did, you’d be able to see the stripping back of layers of birch flooring, revealing pine boards, colored grayish, but a translucent gray. These are probably this house’s original floorboards from its first days. They are fairly wide, and gently tapered from one end to the other, like the trunk of a tree. Makes sense, since they would’ve been cut from trees. Their end grain seams are straight lines, not staggered. They are, in our view, decidedly elegant, if rather busted up in certain places. You’d be busted up too if you were 200 years old.
When I tell you that my admiration for Casey grows all the time, I imagine you believe me. I’m supposed to admire her. We’re engaged, for Pete’s sake. But this isn’t your garden variety admiration. This is me, looking at the woman doggedly tearing up floorboards at 10 o’clock at night, remaking this house with muscle and grit, one hammer swing and one crowbar shove at a time. This lady, my lady, is a force to be reckoned with.
Also, there’s a boiler chugging away in the basement. When I come down in the morning, I can lean my tuchus against a nice hot radiator (one of two, in fact) in the kitchen, before putting the coffee on. Next to the boiler, there’s a nice dry stack of firewood, waiting for the arrival of the second boiler, the wood boiler. I bet there’s a third of a cord down there. (For those who don’t know, a cord of wood is a neat stack, 4 feet wide, 4 feet tall, and 8 feet long). We cut and split all that firewood ourselves, and more. The thing about this wood boiler – a serious investment – is that it’s a wood gassifier. That means it burns the wood so efficiently and at such a high temperature, that it becomes gas. This boiler literally wrings heat and energy out of wood. It’s pretty neat. It also means that our reliance on fossil fuels is poised to go down. A lot. If this thing works the way it’s supposed to, the way we plan it to, our drafty house will be much greener. It’s more work (think about being a slave to
cutting and splitting firewood) but our carbon footprint will be drastically smaller. We’ll be liberating heat energy out of an existing carbon cycle. It’s no coincidence that we’ll be saving money in the process. We think of it as trading sweat equity for a gallon of propane. Plus we save on gym membership. It’s a win all around.
Yards of wallpaper are coming down. Again, I have to give credit to Casey on this one. She’s been attacking these walls like a Norse Raider. I’ve done a couple. She’s done most. I’ve been trapping mice in the attack. The fields have been mowed. Some overgrown underbrush has been trimmed back. The chickens are growing. The lean-to isn’t leaking anymore. We have a shower, and a functional toilet (fine, they’re not in the same room, but who’s counting?)
Owls Hoot is becoming, finally, ours. Our home.