Well, that’s a big relief


I’m heading up to the homestead and the sky is that nice violet color just at twilight.  I get there and it doesn’t look like there is football tonight.  I jump online and check the schedule and they are away this weekend and it’s a one and half hour drive to where they are playing so won’t be doing football.

I think I will clean the living room really well since it’s all painted now.  I will also check the garden and see if it’s time to pull everything up.  It’s mid-October so it must be time.  I will also grab that chicken wire out back and see if I can make some “ghosts” and spray them with the glow in the dark paint.

The next morning I get an e-mail from NorthlineExpress.com.  You know one of those web sites where you buy one thing and then can’t get rid of the e-mails.  I’ve been there a year and a half and it’s always on my mind to get the wood stove chimney checked and cleaned.  I don’t trust that the honorable gentleman who had my house before “had just cleaned it for me”.  Since the bat incident I haven’t opened the door to the wood stove.  I see an ad for a device that hooks to a drill and you put some poles on it and it has a head on it with plastic line like you use in a weed whacker.  Supposedly you click the poles together and put the whip head on it and attach it to a drill and it will rotate it for you to clean the chimney pipe.  Hmmmm, would that really work?  I can’t see myself climbing up on the roof with a chimney brush and doing it myself.  This one advertises you can do it from the bottom up.  That would work great for me since the cap to the chimney pipe is on the outside of the house.  I read 24 reviews and they all say how easy and great it works.  OK, I think I can try this  It would solve the problem of trying to find a chimney sweep and then finding one who would drive out here.

I decide to call Poulsen’s hardware to see if they carry this product so I don’t have to order online.  I give them a call and he says that yes, they do have them.  Cool!  A trip to the hardware store  What would it be like if there was not a trip to the hardware store every week?  I don’t have a drill, but I need a drill/driver so I decide I need to go get one before they don’t have them in stock anymore (that happens you know, wait too long and then for some reason it seems they never have it again).  I get to the hardware store and I see the “Soot Eater” and grab a kit.  Then I go to look at drills.  I ask for help and someone grabs and a buy to help me and he says “here they are”.  Ok, I can see that.  I say I want one that both drills and is a screwdriver.  He says, “here is one, and here is another”.  OK, I always do research before I got buy something and I didn’t do it this time.  Clearly a lesson learned to be prepared and know what you want.  I say thanks and then I call Denise and tell her the choices I have and she asks John which one I should get.  He says the 3-speed.  I don’t have that choice and my next choice is a 2=speed so I guess that is the one I will get  Dang, much more than I thought I was going to spend.  It seems every trip to town costs between $100 and $200.  Ok, a little more than $200 today but I know I need this and it will save me money in the long run.

I get back home and this just doesn’t make sense.  It seems way easy to use this thing.  Could it really be this easy?  You know how things look easy and then there are tons of roadblocks and it takes you 4 hours to do something they advertised will take “10 minutes!!”.  Because we all know “it’s always something”.  I wasn’t planning on doing this activity this time up but there is no time like the present.  I get the drill out and I think I will try one 3 foot length to see how it works before I go hog wild and hook all 18 feet together and shove it up the chimney hole.  Hot dog, I am ready to go.  There is a board on the bottom of the box around the chimney pipe and I easily take that off.  eeewwww, lots of spider webs and dirt.  I know there is a cap to the bottom of the pipe right inside the box.  I get my step stool and climb up and I can’t quite reach it.  I go inside and get my handy antique stool with the step because it’s a little taller.  I drag it outside and get up on it and, OH CRIKEY, I can just barely touch the cap with my fingertips.  Of course, it’s up in the box just a little longer than my arm.  I think it screws out so there is no way I can grab it and get enough force on it to turn it.  I see two tabs holding it in so maybe it pulls out but still no way I can grab the handle to pull on it.  I go grab a broom (not sure what I thought I was going to do with it except try to push the two tabs that are under the cap.  I can’t push the tabs with the broom handle so…..

I go inside and call Denise and say “Honestly, there is always something.  I can just touch the cap but there is no way I can grab it to get it out.”  I say I would try to find a hanger or wire and make a hook to see if I can pull it out.  She asks, “do you think I can reach it?”  I’m thinking anyone with an arm two inches longer than mine could reach it.  She graciously says, “let me put my get dirty clothes on and I’ll be over”.  In the meantime I grab the fireplace poker that has a hook on it.  Well, that doesn’t work because the hook is lower than the spike.  Somehow though all of a sudden the cap falls out.  Unfortunately soot falls all over my arm.  Oh well, I’m prepared to get dirty.  Denise pulls up right as the cap falls out.  We have to cut the whip line the diameter of the pipe so we grab a measuring tape and a utility knife.  The instructions are really easy to follow.  We hook up one length of pole and give it a try.  Wow, the pipe that the guy cleaned for me is really throwing crap out the bottom of the pipe  OK, I go grab my goggles to put on.  There is already soot in my eyes.  We try one length and it really really works great.  Soot is coming out of the pipe like crazy.  We put on another length of pole and do six feet of pipe.  Just press the drill and it whips it right up the chimney.  Now we’re cooking.  We put all six lengths of pole on and I push it up to the top.  I’m glad Denise is there.  I would have been able to do it by myself but she holds the drill while I feed the poles up in the pipe.  Better than dragging the drill across the hard.  18 feet is pretty long.  It really helps to have the second person.  Denise is watching and says she can see it in the cap.  It was important not to push too high and push the cap off.  No reason to circumvent the easiness of going from the bottom up by pushing the cap off and having to climb up on the roof.  Woo Hoo!!  I go up and down the pipe and the soot is really coming out.

OK, let’s get my flashlight and shine it up there and see if it’s clean.  OH CRIKEY.  This is a brand new flashlight that I used once and it is dead.  Denise digs around in her car looking for hers.  I’m trying to peer up the pipe and it just isn’t quite light enough to see.  All of a sudden she yells, “I found it”.  We take a look up the pipe and can’t believe how clean it is.  From the time Denise got there, we cut the whip line, and cleaned it has only been about half hour.  It worked exactly like it said and cleaned it really well.  Thanks Soot Eater.  Your product is really as advertised.  It was easy to use and did a good job without any roadblocks because the directions weren’t clear or it broke or didn’t work properly.  WooHoo!!  This was so easy, so let’s go do the inside pipe.

We go inside and there is no damper on the inside pipe and it has two curves in it.  We put 6 feet of pole on the drill and it went right up the pipe, curves and all and I got that cleaned in about 5 minutes.  I thank Denise and tell her this is worth pizza.  A couple of times when we helped each other we treat the other to pizza as a thank you.  We don’t have to go tonight but the next one is on me.  Justine’s in Eaton has good pizza.

Denise takes off and I get the ash bucket and clean out the old ash and it’s ready to use!!

What a relief to get his done.  I have been thinking and worried about it and not using it for the last year because I didn’t want to chance a fire if it was really dirty.  I really had no idea who would come out and clean it  Most people around here just do it themselves.  Climb up on the roof and do it with a wire brush.  I’m ready to use the wood stove.  This will save me propane costs.  It also saved me $150 or whatever it would have cost to have someone come out and you’re supposed to do it twice a year so now I’m saying I saved even more money.

Now, I just need to get some wood!!

I’m cleaning up and Denise calls and says John thinks pizza tonight is a good idea and that sounds good to me.

The next morning is so beautiful it’s time to sit on the deck and listen to the birds.  The kittens are getting used to me and one comes and lays down by the chair.  The other one goes about its business without running away from me.  I can’t believe it’s still in the 80’s in October.  Every week I think it will be time to clear out the gardens but it will still be in the upper 40’s at night so I will leave it one more week.  I guess I’ll leave it until we have a chance of a hard frost.

I drag the hose around and water the rose garden and the other little garden because it’s still warm and the flowers are still blooming.  I harvest the garden.  Lots this week.  Some butternut squash, more Anaheim peppers, tomatoes galore, and some poblano peppers.  I decide it’s time to pick the pumpkins.  I thought I had counted six.  I find five but I think there is still one hiding under the leaves somewhere.  The squash is still blooming and producing.  There is one small squash that I’m sure won’t have time to make it unless we have a couple more weeks of this nice weather.  I decide to leave the watermelon.  It is getting bigger each week.  With this weather I can easily leave it one more week.

I take a zucchini to my neighbor Heidi and she is really excited.  I take Sandy and Jerry some snackers (cherry tomatoes) and another zucchini and a jar of honey from my old hive.

Well, that’s all the fun I can stand this week so it’s time to head on down the road.  I stop by Denise and John’s and give them some snackers, tomatoes, and zucchini.  I stop at my friend Karen’s (the one who gave me all the flowers and bushes) and take her a goody bag of snackers, tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini.  I am taking a nice size poblano home with me that I will stuff tonight.  It’s so fun eating my own produce!!

Oh yeah, I didn’t do anything I really planned to this weekend but getting that wood stove ready to use is another big step!!



About pbodwell

Master Gardener; Nat'l Award Winning Photographer; Garden Writer; Artist - art books, print maker, hot glass, wire jewelry designer; sometime quilter; new homesteader; bee keeper; very crafty; Baseball fan, enthusiast, and researcher; all things vintage
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