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Our Cozy New Fireplace

Our Cozy New Fireplace

Our completed fireplace

This morning I sat in front of our new fireplace that Silver Oak finished just a few weeks ago and I felt much satisfaction and pleasure watching the flames lick the oak logs cut from fallen trees on our little homestead. The backdrop of antique brick on our lovely big deck, sitting in my comfy cane rocker that we found by the road in someone’s trash last year and my mom refinished for me, feeling the cool Florida January weather…I feel very loved and blessed by my heavenly Father. I love this life He has given us here with our tiny house on our off-grid homestead…not always easy as you know if you read this blog, but simple and satisfying.

I’ve always wanted a fireplace but never had one, at least not a functional one. Now that we live on our own land for the first time, I have a beautiful brick (and metal) fireplace. My hubby finished building it a few weeks ago, and it has been used quite regulary mornings and evenings ever since, to keep warm as well as to enjoy relaxing and cozy family time.

After we moved to this new off-grid homestead my dad told us he had an old freestanding metal fireplace he’d gotten from a customer who wanted to get rid of it. With all the other projects going around here we didn’t even look at it until last fall. My dad pulled it out of his barn and cleaned it up, giving it a new coat of paint. We put down some stepping stones as a temporary hearth on the edge of our deck to try it out for a few months, and now it is permanently installed in its final resting spot.

Silver Oak spent several days building a brick wall behind the fireplace to protect the camper behind it, and then a hearth around the bottom. He braced up the deck underneath with blocks to support the extra weight, and then put a hole through the deck roof over the camper for the chimney. I repainted all the pipes and metal fireplace and we were able to get it all done and fire lit that evening just in the nick of time for the ladies from our church to meet here. Nothing like living on the edge.

Our Cozy New Fireplace

It was quite a mess for a while

Our Cozy New Fireplace

Bricking around the chimney

Our Cozy New Fireplace

Then the hole was made in the roof

Our Cozy New Fireplace

Finally it was ready to burn logs

Our Cozy New Fireplace

And we've been enjoying it ever since

This past few weeks we have hosted several families and our little house church on our deck, and the fireplace has been a huge factor in creating a homey atmosphere. Now Silver Oak is framing in the back end of the deck for screen. A tarp temporarily blocks the cold wind, and a fire keeps the deck fairly comfortable. I can’t wait till both ends are framed in and screen added, with Roman blinds we can pull to block wind and rain. It will allow us to stay warmer during the winter and keep mosquitoes and rain out during the summer.

Our Cozy New Fireplace

The back wall is framed in and a temporary tarp hung

Now that Silver Oak is learning the skill of blacksmithing I am hoping he can build a pot hanger in the fireplace so we can also learn to use it for cooking when a fire is burning. There is so much to learn.

This afternoon I looked out the kitchen window while washing dishes and enjoyed another pleasant sight. The side yard, once filled with usable “junk” (known before as the “graveyard”), is slowly being transformed into a garden. It is covered with a nice layer of dried horse, goat, cow, chicken, and rabbit manure, ash from our burned piles of palmettos, and other organic matter…an attempt to transform our white sugar sand into something productive.

We are trying the idea of raised rows, as shown at Old World Garden Farms. It keeps expenses much lower and is more sustainable than building raised beds with lumber. We’re doing it a little differently though, making rows of composted manure and adding four or so inches of hay on top as a mulch, similar to what is taught in “Back to Eden.” My dad has stories from when he was younger of growing mammoth sunflowers and lots of nearly bug-less and clean potatoes under thick layers of straw or hay covering composted soil.

Last week the younger children were playing “house” outside and decided they wanted to plant a real garden. They each picked a plant and Silver Oak bought seeds and starts for them. On Friday I helped them plant in the raised rows we already made, so now they have peas, green beans and onions growing out there. In Florida we can probably get by with planting in the winter if we protect the plants from frost.

Our Cozy New Fireplace

The three youngest plant their garden

Our Cozy New Fireplace

Watering the newly planted peas

Our Cozy New Fireplace

Poking those beans into the ground

We also got a new batch of chicks to expand our flock of Black Australorps. Now that we are settled here we hope to continue the line indefinitely. We chose this heritage breed because they are excellent layers with an inclination to be broody (but not overwhelmingly so) so they can raise their own broods, which is more sustainable than incubating mechanically. Australorps are also heavier for eating, and are calm (not high-strung cannibals like Rhode Island Reds).

Our Cozy New Fireplace

Little balls of fluff

Our Cozy New Fireplace

Some of our older Black Australorps

Thank you for stopping by to see what is happening on our little homestead. Soon I hope to share with you about our new Black Soldier Fly composter and chicken feeder.

Our Cozy New FireplaceBlessings,
Our Cozy New Fireplace

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24 Responses to “Our Cozy New Fireplace”

  1. Southern Ladye says:

    Beautiful fireplace! We have recently added a small flock of chickens to our “urban homestead” (I live in a small town but would rather be in the country somewhere. Thankfully we are allowed to have a few hens.) and one of them is a black Australorp. They are beautiful birds. We would love to have some more of them. We are also attempting to raise a few meat rabbits as we are limited in what we can have but one of them has already died and we are not sure what caused it. Like you, we have to learn by trial and error, and a whole lot of research! Thanks for a wonderful post and a wonderful blog.

    • Rose Petal says:

      Yes, trial and error is the way we have learned many things. It’s good to learn from others’ mistakes so we don’t have so much pain ourselves, but experience is the best teacher. I’m sorry about your rabbit problems. Our oldest daughter (Evenstar) knows a lot about raising rabbits as she has been raising many different breeds for several years now. I’m sure she would be glad to brainstorm with you if you’d like.

      Hope you can realize your dream of country living (in the country!) some day.

  2. RevAllyson says:

    Such a lovely fireplace! This is the first time I’ve read your blog and I found it through the Backyard Farming Connection Hop, so thank you for posting over there! I wanted to make a cooking suggestion for you for your fireplace. Using a tripod or hook might work in that type of fireplace, but what will definitely work is a good quality dutch oven, the kind with three stout little legs. You want to find one that has a recessed lid, because what you do is get your fire going, then put your dutch oven in the *front* of your fireplace (where you can reach it easily to check it)… rake the coals and embers under it, and put some coals on the lid itself. You can bake bread and pot roast and soup and pretty much anything that way, and in your set-up, I bet it would be more practical. We have a tripod and can use it for cooking, but I actually avoid doing so for most everything but making sure there’s lots of hot water (not at our house btw, just at our camp)… things tend to burn unless you have the fire Just Right, and I never do LOL…

    • Rose Petal says:

      That is a great idea (using a dutch oven) that I had considered but haven’t tried yet. We do have one 6qt dutch oven as you described, so we need to put it to good use! It would probably make some good brown rice. Thanks for the encouragement!

      • Umpa says:

        As my life gets more and more complicated, I find myself doing more and more homesteading . I’m not sure why that is, but it has given me more satisfaction and joy then I ever expected. First, I started doing small things like making my own granola and grinding my own hot rice cereal from my mother’s old recipes. I’ve always made some of my own salad dressings from scratch. Then, I went apple picking last year and learned to can. I made apple sauce, apple butter and frozen pie filling. It started something in me. I wanted more. So I canned tomatoes and learned how to make yogurt and bread. Now I want to make kombucha and mayonnaise and BBQ sauce and jam, and and . The list goes on and on. I’m glad there are other people on this journey. I wish we all had a big kitchen to sit down and feast and toast each other. I wish I could make everyone a cup of tea from the mint I dried. Mostly I look forward to learning with you all.

        • Rose Petal says:

          Yes, we are all on the journey and it is so good to be able to learn from each other. There is much to learn that our forefathers took for granted. But every step helps.

  3. We love our wood stove! We’ve had it for years and years but it is so nice in the winter. Glad you’re enjoying yours as well. :)

    • Rose Petal says:

      A stove would be better for heat efficiency than a fireplace like ours, but in Florida it’s not so critical. Fire is so beautiful when contained and in its proper application.

  4. Alison Bayne says:

    A fireplace brings such a heart to a home, doesn’t it. We have had a wood stove for a couple of months now (we need the heat in the UK) and it is almost like a member of the family! I am so glad I found you on the Homeacre Hop. Following you now – let me know if you would like to guestblog on Mumtopia.

  5. Absolutely beautiful! :) So glad you shared your fireplace with us on Wildcrafting Wednesday. It looks like the perfect place to sit in the cool evenings. :)

  6. Stevie says:

    You will soooo love that fireplace. We have a woodstove and it is such a wonderful warm heat to come down to on chilly mornings. Once you get used to that feeling, you are so spoiled, I go to other people’s homes and don’t know how they live without it! Stevie @ ruffledfeathersandspilledmilk.com

  7. Heidi says:

    Hello Rose Petal,
    The fireplace is wonderful. I can picture you and the family enjoying the evening together by its warmth. Your raised row garden sounds good to me too. I will watch your progress. The chicks are adorable. I love black australorps too. I have a rainbow flock that includes two of them and they are my friendliest girls. I enjoy your updates from the homestead and I look forward to reading the next one. Have a great weekend.

    • Rose Petal says:

      Thank you, Heidi. We used to have a rainbow flock a bit like yours and I miss the colors. I especially love exotic birds like silkies and polish. But since we decided to seriously focus on becoming sustainable we figured a pure flock that can reproduce itself would better fit the need. Maybe when we get more of our “to do’s” done we can try variety again if we keep them separate.

  8. Hi Rose Petal! What a super fireplace, isn’t it just the perfect focal point around which a family can gather each wintery evening?! Thank you for sharing and delighted you popped by Seasonal Celebration Wednesday.Hope to welcome you back tomorrow! Rebecca @ Natural Mothers Network x

  9. Lisa Lynn says:

    I love your fireplace! We cook on our wood stove, but I would love to try cooking over an open flame :)

    The chicks are very cute and I can’t wait to see more photos of your garden! Thanks for sharing on the HomeAcre Hop! See you on thursday :)

    • Rose Petal says:

      I’d love it if this fireplace was shaped in such a way that I could cook on top like a wood stove, but otherwise it’s perfect. I’ll be back! :)

  10. The Blue Canadian Cat says:

    Gorgeous fireplace!
    This is the first time I have read your blog, I can’t remember where I clicked in from, sorry.
    I am fascinated with the off-grid lifestyle, and I am finding more useful tips in blogs from those off-grid than many pros, because I also want to reuse & repurpose things, which is big amongst off-gridders.
    I’ve got spring fever — maybe it’s winter blues on steroids, I don’t know, haha… there’s 4 feet of snow outside, it’s snowing more today, and I just want it to be spring already!
    Thank you for this post — I’ll be reading through lots of other posts of yours!

    • Rose Petal says:

      So glad you stopped by, and that you’re enjoying the blog. I also love getting ideas from others about reusing and repurposing things.

      Hope spring comes quickly for you!

  11. ann says:

    I live in Texas, and in the fall I plant cool weather vegetables. Sugar snap peas, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, and most other greens will surrvive a frost, even a light freeze. Lettuce will also surrvive pretty late into the season, and you can start it early. If you plant a second crop of tomatoes in August, you should have tomatoes untill at least November, maybe later. I just finished the last of the fall broccoli and planted more. Onions and garlic do very well planted in the fall and harvested in the spring. Garlic is good harvested in June. I also planted more peas, and when those come out I will put tomatoes in their place. It is a lot of trial and error, but my goal is to have something growing in my beds year round.

    ann

    • Rose Petal says:

      That is exactly what we should be able to do here in FL once our sandy soil is built up enough. We are having our fifth night in a row of below freezing or near freezing temps, so out we go to cover everything again. But it is worth it.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your ideas.