The Right Choice

Coming home
Coming home

The temperature fell hard overnight, dropping a good 20-degrees in the 8 (ok, 9) hours I spent holding down my pillow. With the cold front came snow and wind, and this morning we awoke to wraith-like spindrifts spiraling across the pasture. The blown air bit hard on my cheeks and tunneled through the gaps between sleeve and glove, jacket collar and hat. It stung, but the stinging felt like winter should feel, and the house was never more than 100 yards away, so I did chores with no particular urgency. The colder I got, the more I’d appreciate my return to the protective cocoon of our home, where I’d have the distinctly rural luxury of choosing between two wood stoves by which to warm myself. If the cookstove, I could lord over percolating coffee and the twin five-gallon pots of bone broth from the quartet of lambs we processed over the weekend. If the Elm, I could stand sock-footed on the fieldstone hearth, feel the irregularities of the coarse stone against my feet, gaze at the unadorned cement board heat shield behind it, and admonish myself (yet again) for its incompleteness, which in turn would only remind me of sundry other incomplete projects. And then the subsequent descent into the inarguable truth of my failings.

So I chose the cookstove, and it was the right choice.



23 thoughts on “The Right Choice”

  1. For two years, we also had cement board as our decorative wall covering behind the woodstove. About 6 months ago, I finally convinced my husband and brother that it really would only take them a day to install the stone, so now it looks darn nice. But of course there is no trim. I’ll have to wait another 6 months for that.

  2. Yeah, it’s here all rightey. After Christmas weather at it’s best! We finally have our hard freeze and I’ll be busting ice on all the troughs when I go out in a few minutes. The ground is covered with our version of snow. Solid white frost. Kinda beautiful until I go out but sure and I’ll be dressed to the nines and it won’t be so bad. We don’t have a cookstove but the woodstove will suffice! I’ll show your picture to the hubby who thinks it cold here. Then he’ll appreciate this wimpy weather more!

  3. Unadorned cement looks great when you paint it. Really! I painted the stacked cement block chimney green. It looks a little ghetto, but also kind of nice because now it’s not grey anymore. Just a thought for you to contemplate to get yourself out of your self-loathing state of mind.

    1. Skim-coat the backer board with a cementatious concrete finishing compound and stain it with concrete stain…gives it a rich, “organic” look…lots of colors available such as weathered bronze, copper, terra cotta, etc. Cheaper and easier than tile or stone, depending upon sq footage.

  4. 🙂 Good choice, good choice. Kiss the hand that feeds you, and “chillax”. Imagine if all projects were complete. What then? Too funny, reminds me of my parents, who were very adamant to complete all they started, and when they would complete it, they would want to redo it all over again. So it never stops. may as well keep it incomplete.

    I like the good old clay wood burning stoves as one built in my two grandmas houses. They were also painted and repainted, and paint peeling off the clay. The stove extended over 4 rooms which were situated around it, so all 4 rooms were equally heated. The cooking part was in the kitchen, and then you could climb above the cooking part into the sitting spot, where we we had ample space to dry apples, herbs, anything that needed to be dried, wet mittens and boots, and 3 kids could climb up there to warm up and read books. Do they really not build stoves like that anymore? Like this one: http://annebobroffhajal.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/TiledStoveCropt.jpg

    1. Whoa Nelly! That looks like a version of something we used to do in Wyoming when it was too friggin’ cold to go out and we needed something to do. Straighten bent nails. Only much more crazy beautiful!

    1. Just to be clear, this is not my grandma’s oven, just an example. Ours was just painted clay all peeling off. This one way too fancy for my taste, but Russians adore these and they love decorated stuff.
      But the whole point is that you can sit on them, it is like a small heated attic, and we had had this pile of blankets there, on top of clay, sometimes it would get too toasty, so you needed couple blankets under. Grandpa used to warm up his arthritic bones there. During winter nights, everybody would fight about taking turns up there. 🙂 We could also peek down from one side all covered by unused dishes and drying apples and look down to see what grandma was up to in the kitchen.

      1. The art work reminds me of some of Jan Brett’s books. Such color and detail, and a beauty for functional things in the home that we so lack here.

      2. Now you got me looking at those ovens. 🙂
        Looks like there are modern versions like such

        And this is exact pots and pot holders we used for pushing the pots into the hot coals.

      3. Beautiful! Reminds me of the tiled wood stoves in Scandinavia (though round and in the corners of rooms.) They were so warm you almost couldn’t get right next to them. Thanks for sharing your memories!

  5. Whether farming or ranching, it seems that the “to do” lists never end. There is always something coming up that needs more immediate attention and has to be inserted into the hierarchy ahead of things that you’d planned to do. My “after the kids go back to school” project is to start the rehab of a 1980 Tucker Sno-Cat

  6. So I shouldn’t remark on the 62 degrees we’re having today? Great for pulling dandelions to play with! I just read Home Grown, Ben. Well done. As an unschooler of 3 on a spot of land with goats, garden and some poultry (+dogs, mousin’ kitty, etc.), your words resonated with me and what we’ve got going on here. Thanks for sharing them…it’s nice to not feel like a lone anomaly.

  7. Ah yes, the unfinished projects – to see or not to see them. to focus or not to focus on them. Anyway, when is it ever the right thing to do to focus on them?

    Yesterday I found out a few of my gutters were electrified (not too bad, I could still let go). So I added that to my list – somewhere in my mind – not being focused on – electrified gutters.

    quartet of lambs, eh?

    1. What in the world is an electrified gutter? Get some poor kid zapped?
      Ben is pretty lucky, Penny keeps a really good to do list for him. 🙂 (this is a part of his parody portrait)
      Although I say, just go out in the wind with the list, like the the Toad from Lobel’s Frog and Toad “List” and when the list is blown away, too bad so sad. . you can then just sit and do nothing. . 🙂

  8. While I’m not fan of NY’s resolutions, I find we tend to become more focused on the “to do” list this time of year. I guess it’s because, regardless of the cold, you know Spring is coming and you feel the urge to be ready. Lovely picture!

  9. Definitely made the right choice! We like to say we are 80 percenters. Hence the reason we cut a hole in the side of the house mid November to put in French doors. Worked like crazy to seal it up by dark and we did. Do you think we would re-stuff the missing insulation around the sides, replace the wood siding and add trim? Don’t be silly NOBODY puts trim back on after a project! They say it is going to hit 11 degrees tonight, might have to accomplish 80% of the remaining 20% still left to be done. I figure if we keep up at that rate we will eventually be good enough.
    Tell Rye not to rush on my spoon, plenty of soup making season left! I try to buy handcrafted to avoid child slave labor, oops!

  10. Here’s what you need to do, Ben: buy some close-out tiles and set Finn and Rye to work smashing them up (hammers and thick towels and eye protection, to be sure!) and then smear a thick layer of tile adhesive on those ugly boards, and let them go to work on a mosaic. When it’s all dry, you’ll have to add the grout. But it’ll be pretty and always worth looking at, chances are. Here’s our mosaic behind our living room stove:

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