Stufa, Part 1
Last spring when the guys who own the farm we rent approached us about renting for two more years we were happy about the idea except for the cost of heat. Since we have moved here, the cost of natural gas which is delivered to us in a truck, has increased from .70 to .90 centesimo a liter. So instead of spending about 800 Euros to fill up it is closer to 1000 Euros. And depending on the exchange rate that can be anywhere from $1,200 to $1500. Our first year here we filled the tank 4 times. The next two years we cut back 3 fill-ups each year.
If the sun is out, the stone farm house will warm up. But last winter was dreary and rainy and it snowed 4 times. We bought wood and burned a fire and ran the heat as much as I felt we could afford to. Still with all of that we were spending about $20 a day to be in a house that was between 50 and 55 degrees. The heating system is capable of warming the house. Go back and read the bolded phrase. And read again, we burned a fire. I am the firewood fairy! Hauling in 2 wheel barrows of wood each day and hauling out ashes and feeding the fire or harassing Ben take care of the fire had gotten VERY OLD. I am pretty much over being a pioneer women! And very much over wearing 4 layers of clothing and being cold all the time. But if we agreed to stay then we would be faced with the same situation all over again.
Together, with the guys who own the house, we worked out to buy and install a pellet burning stufa. The pellets which are made from a renewable wood and look like what a rabbit or hamster would eat, come in 30 pound bags. The pellets are dumped in the top of the stufa, the stufa feeds them in and burns them and nice continuous heat comes out. Once a day you clean it. The ash is minimal.
So in July, we started to look for a stufa. Italian shopkeepers are very much of the moment. Most don’t expect to sell a stufa in July. While it is not impossible to buy one, there is not as much of a selection. But we started looking. We looked at stufas. And looked at stufas. And looked at stufas. I felt like everytime we got in the car Ben would say, “Let’s go to … and look at stufas.” We had catalogs. Ben would send me links to websites. There is a dizzying array of stufas. All summer long, at some point during every meeting with friends, the conversation would turn to stufas. Where should we put it? Have you ever been to this store? What brand is yours? Stufas, stufas, stufas!
July turned to August. We are still looking. August turns to September. We are still looking. By now, stufas are back in the stores so this year’s models are now available. Oh joy! September turns to October. We are still looking! We did not spend this amount of time on any part of our move from America to Italy yet buying a stufa has become the all consuming event of the summer. Finally we settle on one from tractor guy, Stefano. Earlier, our neighbor, Alessio had suggested buying one from tractor guy. And we went to see his. But as his name implies, he sells and fixes tractors. Stufas are a sideline that he got into because he needed one to heat the tractor store. It works so well he became a dealer. The brand he sells doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles. It is just basic but that is really all we need. We need something for 2 winters here at the farm and then when we move we will either sell it or move it with us. And finally I worked out that buying a stufa from tractor guy for 700 Euros was better than buying one from anyone else for 1000 to 1500 Euros and 700 Euros is what one fill-up of gas costs. So going with tractor guy was not that much of a risk. Alessio met us down at tractor guy’s store and we worked out the details. Tractor guy and I can communicate fairly well, until he starts off on some stream of info and is talking a mile a minute. Then I only catch every third word and can miss a few details sometimes. And this is a chunk of change we are spending so I just wanted a little reassurance when completing the transaction. The stufa is ordered and finally 15 days later it arrives. So now all we need to do is wait for the rains to let up so that tractor guy can deliver it.
Finally a clear spell. We have to miss Italian class but hey, we’re getting the stufa! Here’s tractor guy operating the crane while his brother helps unload.
Finally it is in!
See part 2