Thursday, April 26, 2007

Our Heating Situation

For some strange reason that we'll never figure out, our house has only two radiators on the entire first floor. One of them is at the base of the stairs. The other is really short radiator underneath a window. Along with that issue, there is the boiler. Lucky for us our boiler is vintage 1935 and converted from coal some time in the 70's. For so many reasons, that thing has to go.

Paul, being the insatiably curious person that he is, did hours of research to discover that we don't actually have to just replace the boiler. In order to solve the uneven heat sources as well as the horrible inefficiency, we could put in radiant floor heat!

The only big issue - that entails removing the ceilings in the basement and the coved ceilings on the first floor. After many hours of deliberation, even up to the very morning of, we decided to proceed with the demolition, as you can see.

The Eggs (Soon to Be Chickens)

I think that it's because we want to get another dog but really can't find an excuse to go through all of the training, money, etc right now. That's why we've decided to raise chickens instead. Actually, there are a number of benefits of chickens that I'm looking forward to. First, there are those tasty eggs. Secondly, they are great at eating all of those tasty bugs out of my garden while depositing some lovely fertilizer. Third, they are pretty cute.

Nonetheless, almost 21 days ago our friend, a chicken farmer, dropped off one dozen eggs, an incubator and a brooder light. Right now, as I am typing this I can hear a little "peep peep" coming from our first pipping chick. No, we don't have a chicken coop - yet. We need to keep the little guys in the house for the first 60 days. That gives us two months to build a chicken coop (and get permission from our neighbors for the permit - yikes!).

Our Commitment

We are definitely not new to homeownership. Paul and I each owned our own homes before we met and married. There is something different about this house though, or should I say, about us. We've now got two kids, one income and a new commitment to the environment and the health of the world around us. While we know that we can't make a difference on a global scale, we've decided to work with what we've got.

That's where our Tudor comes in. We chose this house because it feels right and because we're in a great neighborhood with lots of kids. There's a park nearby, the library and the lake. Our priorities were neighborhood, yard and then house which is exactly what we got. The yard is not gigantic but it's not too small either. Paul, being the Permaculture design specialist, is totally excited about the prospects for our back yard so I'm sure you'll see more from him on that.

On to our quest. As I mentioned, we're lovers of the environment, the earth, the birds, the trees, etc. A few years ago we decided to start living our values so we'd made small changes. We started buying organic food, trying to buy local when we could, etc. We're still doing those things. We buy mostly organic food, belong to a CSA in the summer, buy raw milk, eggs, cheese and chicken from local farmers, use recycled products whenever necessary, recycle ourselves, compost, use natural cleaners, hang the clothes outside to dry when we can, etc., etc.. Along with all of these day to day things, we want to make our house reflect these values. Needless to say, we have a long list of projects with a short supply of money. These projects include: an entire permaculture design and install in our back yard, a green roof, in floor radiant heat which will be powered by solar panels on the roof, composting toilets, an edible garden, replacing our grass in the front yard with clover, building a greenhouse, a rainwater catchment system, just to name a few.

Along with our commitment to the earth, Paul and I have always had a respect and love of old homes. We love the idea of restoring something to its original beauty. Under this category, we also have a laundry list of ideas and projects. These include: replacing all the lighting with period appropriate fixtures, redesigning the kitchen to create more usable space and accommodate our in house chef as best we can, replace or resurface our tub, do something with the hideous lighting/medicine cabinet in the bathroom, repair the Romeo and Juliet balcony so no one falls through the rotting boards when they're sneaking out at night, install a new doorbell that doesn't sound (and look) like you've stepped back into the eighties, tear off the maroon vinyl shudders on all four windows in the front and finish the small but usable room we have in the basement.

While this house was right for us because we didn't "have" to do anything with it, we should have known that we just wouldn't be happy with it the way that it is. Luckily it's got a great structure and character. Plus we can live here through most of our projects.