Mountain Folk News
Thoughts on Water
I stepped outside the other morning to enjoy some sun and a cup of coffee, and was greeted to the sounds of a lawnmower. Which in and of it self is not so strange—except I live in Duquette Pines, a mountain community. I would not expect us to have manicured lawns. Now you may say: “hey, your wild unkempt grasses are not what I would expect”-- and, you may be right. But then a few mornings later I hear the sound of a rainbird type sprinkler. That unmistakable sound brought back memories of my days as an irrigation sprinkler repairman, and all the times I spent dripping wet working in huge irrigated fields of lush corn. I guess my point would be that we live in an area of limited water, and more and more folks seem to be adding water intensive outside plantings, even watering the weeds in front of their homes. We need to be conservative in our water usage and consider the type of plants we bring up here. There are many sources available to help us design natural low water type plantings for our indoor or porch plantings.
When Duquette was first developed, the buyers of property signed a water usage agreement, stipulating conservation practices. You should be able to find a copy of that historic document on our website soon. It would be good reading as a reminder of where we started as we developed this Ponderosa pine area for our homes. We do live in an area that suffers from low moisture content. Our wells pulling down each summer are an indicator that we do not have unlimited water at our disposal. As a community it would be good for us all to remember the need to conserve. As you will read somewhere else in this issue, we have installed a third storage tank. This will give us more storage, perhaps a little more pressure; but it will not give us anymore ground water. Besides conserving on your own property, if you see water problems around our neighborhood, please call us. Jim and friends have been busy fixing and repairing leaks, bad valves and taking care of water issues. We continue to monitor and check for leaks and problems. If you see something that seems out of place (or wet) give us a call and we will check it out.
Duquette Pines abides by the DEQ requirements regarding testing of our water supply and system. Rarely, as occurred in July and August 2004, we have water test results that do not meet the DEQ standards. Water users have been, and will continue to be, notified of unacceptable test results, as specified by DEQ regulations. In addition to meeting the DEQ requirements for notice to water users, the DPHOA Board will make every effort to provide notice of water system problems (i.e. unacceptable water test results; work to be performed on the water system; scheduled chlorination) by posting notice on the community bulletin board and on our web site as soon as is reasonably possible.
2004 Board Election Results
Brent Adamson and Theresa Mann were re-elected to the open Board positions. Carol Kirkland was elected as an alternate Board member.
Don Talks About Speeding
I would like to address a problem with some folks living in Duquette Pines and their friends that visit. The problem is that some people drive too fast. The speed bumps have slowed most of us down, but I have watched a few people actually speed up to go over the bumps! I watch cars, snowmobiles, four-wheelers, motorcycles and dirt bikes speed by my house. Maybe these individuals think that the speed limit is only for retired old codgers. Well, that’s not true—the speed limit is for everybody! Speeding on dirt roads causes potholes, washboards, and the possibility of a serious wreck. So drive slowly, carefully, and always defensively.
reason to check our web site
Looking for a good reason to check out http://www.duquettepines.com/ ? Here’s one: to get the most up-to-date status on our drinking water.
You probably know by now that there’s a time lag with that Division of Environmental Quality (DEQ) notice posted around the subdivision. It warns us to consider boiling our drinking water... even though our last several water tests have come back negative for coliform bacteria.
In other words, our drinking water is quite fine. But the notices have to stay up until DEQ gets around to sending us a letter saying we can take them down.
But on our web site you can get the real story, as soon as Board members get the latest test results. We pride ourselves on updating our site as soon as we hear anything about our drinking water.
So, check it out. You’ll also find our monthly Minutes, our Covenants, our Newsletters, and lots of other useful things.
Wood Burning Season is Once Again Here
You can almost hear the crackle of this year’s first fire. You are ready to enjoy the smoke drifting lazily from each chimney and the smell of wood. The first fire is always looked upon by wood-burners as the true beginning of the winter season, even if the calendar says different.
If you heat with wood, hopefully you have already had your system cleaned and have been using it for a while. It's easy to get comfortable with the fireplace or woodstove - it almost becomes a friend on those cold winter mornings when it's cold enough to make you wonder why you want to get out of bed.
Here are some tips from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to ensure a safe wood-burning season:
SEASON YOUR FIREWOOD
Seasoning firewood basically means "drying out" firewood. When freshly cut, firewood may contain as much as 50% of it's weight in water - which makes for smoky and slow burning fires, as much of the energy of the fire is spent boiling to water out of the wood before it can actually burn.
The best way to season wood is to first cut it when it's naturally "less wet" - meaning in late fall and early winter when nature has helped reduce the amount of water in the wood in preparation for the freezing temperatures of mid to late winter.
The second most important step is to split the wood before storing it - this exposes more of the surface of the wood to the air for drying. This will greatly decrease the amount of time it takes the wood to fully season.
After it's split, you want to store the wood off the ground, with pallets or cinder blocks holding up the first layer of wood. Then stack your wood in a loose stack - some people even like to criss-cross the wood every few layers - so that air can circulate around and through the stack.
You want to cover the stack, but not lay a tarp right over it. It's better to put it in a woodshed or to build a boy-scout style "lean-to" over the stack with a clear plastic sheet - designed to keep the rain off of the wood, but open to let the air circulate through it. (The clear plastic also lets the sun warm the wood, helping to dry it out also.)
You will know your wood is seasoned when you see large cracks (called "checking") at the ends of the cut pieces of wood - or listen for a hollow, ringing sound when you clap two pieces of wood together. Technically speaking, wood is considered "seasoned" when it contains less than 20% water - preferably around 15%. (There is also an electronic meter used to check firewood for dryness - for those who love "gadgets".)
BUILD AN EFFICIENT FIRE
Another important part of efficient wood burning is to allow plenty of combustion air to enter the stove. Become familiar with the air inlets on your stove - this is usually the best area of the stove to ignite the kindling when first starting your fire. Once the fire is started, give it plenty of air for 15 to 30 minutes - allowing the stove and wood to heat-up and a bed of coals to start forming.
For hot "flash-fires" - intended to give off lower heat levels over several hours - load your stove in a small stack, loose criss-cross fashion, leaving plenty of space for air to flow into and around the stack. You want to get the fire hot and bright. Cut back on the air inlets as the fire progresses - but never enough to smolder the flames. When you have a hot bed of glowing coals, cut the air back enough to keep them hot and radiating heat. Repeat this process as needed to keep the house at the temperature you feel is comfortable.
For extended heating, and when you want to maximize heat output - start your fire like you would the flash fire - and when you get down to a hot bed of coals, load plenty of wood on the sides and on top of the bed of coals, concentrating the heat in a "pocket" of fresh firewood. This will sustain the fire and maximize heat output. Add wood around and over the "pocket" as needed to keep the heat concentrated.
To get a longer-lasting fire - burn your wood from the top-down. This is an ancient method of wood burning in Europe and is "catching on" here in the States. Basically you build your fire upside down, with the split log base, working progressively smaller sections of firewood in a criss-cross manner to the top where you put you kindling. The only problem is that it's less common to find the finely split wood needed for the center section of the stack - in America we just cut and split into large sections. Some experienced wood-burners are finding the top-down method of burning is much more efficient, with long-lasting burns - an 18-inch stack can burn hot up to 4 hours without needing to be refueled.
HAVE YOUR CHIMNEY CLEANED AND INSPECTED
And don’t forget your annual chimney inspection and cleaning! "A chimney inspection is like an annual dental check-up," states Ashley Eldridge, director of education at the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). "It's preventative maintenance that helps minimize potential hazards."
In addition to an annual inspection, the CSIA recommends these tips for reducing the threat of a chimney fire:
* Add a chimney cap to the top of your chimney. A cap can keep out damaging moisture, which wears away masonry and other metal components within a chimney.
* Ensure that your chimney has an appropriate liner. Chimney liners are required in new construction to separate system emissions from the structure of your home.
* Have chimney flashing (the seal between the chimney and the roof) inspected and maintained. Flashing prevents rain water and snow melt from entering a house and causing costly damage to walls and ceilings.
For more information about preventing chimney hazards or for a free copy of the brochure "Chimney Inspections Explained for the Homeowner" call (800) 536-0118 or visit the CSIA Web site at www.csia.org.