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When we moved here 34 years ago we faced two challenges. We had very little money (and no job, at first) and we had moved from suburbia to a farm. We had a lot to learn and one important lesson was that we would do everything ourselves. We learned how to put up fences for livestock, bought used farm equipment and raised oat hay to feed the cattle, painted the barns, etc. We became self-sufficient from necessity as well as our "Whole Earth Catalog" philosophy.

The most extreme example of this was in 1990 when Northern California experienced the  worst freeze in 60 years. Our temperatures rarely fall below freezing. For weeks our temps got as low as 11 degrees. Water system plumbing here can be on the surface rather than buried as in much of the country. Of course, almost all the pumps in N. California broke, including ours. New pumps were unavailable; they had to be shipped from other states. So we made do for days, bringing gallons of water from work for drinking and from {redacted, TMI} for flushing the toilet. Our heating system was inadequate for those temperatures so we were freezing even in the house.

Eventually an insurance representative arrived and did us well, paying for all new pumps and labor. We described our experiences and he looked at us with amazement. "Your insurance would have paid for your whole family in a hotel plus all meals" he said. Such a possibility never entered our minds.

Our awareness has changed through the years. One advantage of doing everything one's self is that it saves a lot of money. So now when faced with such a choice I lean toward getting some help and paying for it.

Our floor furnace in the dining room ceased to work and is not repairable. So we decided to purchase a propane gas fireplace insert for the existing fireplace, which never worked properly. And with the wisdom of experience I hired a guy who promised a turnkey installation. I hit it lucky; the guy and his assistant were experts. And so it is installed, operational, and wonderful. In a way, I still "did it myself". I wrote a check.

Our old fireplace, with useless glass screen.

Getting firebox ready.

Installing two vent pipes up the chimney, one exhaust vent and one for fresh air input.

2013-10-01_13-41-12_563 photo photobucket-15412-1381084397710_zps8bd2ecd0.jpg

Totally professional propane and electrical connections. Glen would be proud of this plumber.

Well, at this point in writing the diary, Photobucket is misbehaving to such an extent that I'm just going to leave it as is. I have more photos with the fire burning; maybe they'll publish in the comments. Anyway, good evening everyone.

Kitchen Table Kibitzing is a community series for those who wish to share part of the evening around a virtual kitchen table with kossacks who are caring and supportive of one another. So bring your stories, jokes, photos, funny pics, music, and interesting videos, as well as links—including quotations—to diaries, news stories, and books that you think this community would appreciate.

Finally, readers may notice that most who post diaries and comments in this series already know one another to some degree, but newcomers should not feel excluded. We welcome guests at our kitchen table, and hope to make some new friends as well.

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