My family lived on a Ranch full time from 1993 until 2015. We were a 5th generation family farm.
I am writing this blog to share my experiences living there. It is best to read the blog chronologically by going through the archives, starting with the introduction in January of 2010.
The blog starts with the arrival of my great-grandparents to the farm in 1947 and will follow the families to the present.

Monday, January 1, 2018

A Winter Nest

     Our family is now on our third winter of urban living. The experience of winter is so different living in town as compared to the farm. I feel removed from the challenges of winter, but also in some ways the beauty. On the ranch we noticed every nuance of winter, but it was always the cold that impacted us and our predecessors the most. I have records of my great grandmother Caroline exclaiming in a letter to her daughter during the winter of 1961 the marvel of the installation of central heating which allowed for the house to be at 80 degrees (F) although it was 30 degrees (F) outside. She specifically noted that it was 80 degrees throughout all corners of the house. One of the many challenges of wood heat and no central air is that the heat does not distribute itself around the house, but remains in close proximity to the heat source. When we lived on the farm we never went without central heating unless the power went off. My great grandmother, who was in her late 60s when she moved to the ranch in 1947, lived for 14 years without central heating. I think the longest we went without central heating was 3 days and it was uncomfortable. What we did have in common with past generations on the farm is that we always heated with wood.

The original farmhouse in the winter of 1947.

Winter 1947. My great grandmother Caroline making her way into the farmhouse.

     The two houses we lived in on the farm both had wood heat. Our first house we lived in as a family was the Atwater cabin. It was originally built as a summer fishing cabin, and then renovated by the Atwaters who were from Spokane. They used it primarily for the summer, and a few weeks into the shoulder seasons. It was insulated with moss and heated by a inefficient electric furnace and a fireplace. We moved into the cabin during the summer months and over the next years did a number or extensive renovations. The most important one was the installation of a wood stove on the main floor. People had lived in the cabin prior to us during the winter, and my only conclusion is that they must have been cold. The electric furnace made an impressive amount of noise in the basement, produced little in the way of heat, but did create an impressive electrical bill. Even with the improvement of the wood stove the cabin was cold on the floor which created a problem for our crawling babies. It was with huge relief that we moved into the "Herald House".

The Atwater Cabin was set on a rocky outcrop which caught all the winter winds.

Circa 1994. Our two oldest children lived in the Atwater cabin. In the winter they had to be dressed as if they were going outside if they were playing on the floor.

     The Herald House was owned by one of the original settler families to the Shuswap and was located on what is now Herald Park. It is an impressive 4800 square foot home which had large windows and even french doors. It was not the original house that the family lived in which was a small, simple wood frame house. This home was built slowly over many years, only completed in the late 1960s. Jessie Herald was the only family member left to live in it once it was completed. We acquired the house once Jessie passed as the provincial park did not want it on the property. We moved it to our farm using a variety of methods, and happily moved into it with very few changes to the structure. We kept the original heating system which was a large wood and oil furnace named The Enterprise. The wood stove came from the Enterprise Fawcett foundry located in Sackville, New Brunswick. The Enterprise began operations in 1852, and was at one time the only company in the world manufacturing a complete line of cooking and heating products all under one roof.

The Enterprise Foundry. This historic building burned down in January of 2012

The Enterprise wood stove in the Herald house.

The Herald House, winter 2010. The house was placed on the same footprint as the original farmhouse.

     In our new urban setting we have no wood heat and I rarely miss it. Gone is the work to accumulate the needed 8 cords of firewood. The Enterprise was impressive in many ways but it needed adjustments to stop it from smoking. The children often complained that they did not like going to school smelling like wood smoke. It feels like luxury to wake in the morning to a warm house, something that the children still comment on when they are home. This Christmas holiday we installed "The Nest" thermostat that allows us to remotely control our heat. Our son is a Red Seal Electrician and he did the work for us over the holidays. I am not certain if wood heat is out of our lives in the future as it does have it's charms. It is helpful though to celebrate and be grateful for what you have a the moment which I am certainly doing this winter in our warm house.

December 2017. Our son installing "The Nest".

The Nest.