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The cost of country life

You’ll notice times when comments aren’t being approved on this blog. It’s not because I’m sitting on them; it’s because I’m away from the keys for something. This afternoon we went out to the countryside for a second look at a farmhouse we’re thinking of renting. It’s a great old place — stone-and-wood construction, modernized, lots of space inside, plus lots of space outside. It’s not only beautiful and comfortable, but it fits our family’s lifestyle needs. For one, it’s easy driving distance from our church, so we can be there more often. For another, it’s got plenty of space, and quiet, for stay-at-home office dad. For a third, there’s lots of space for the kind of stuff Julie likes to do, especially gardening and chicken-keeping. And, the kids finally will have a yard big enough to play in. What’s not to like?

There’s nothing not to like, actually. But I do have a big concern: how much it’s going to cost to heat this place. The house runs on heating oil, which is around $4 per gallon now. There’s a big wood-burning stove in one of the downstairs rooms, with blowers on it. I understand the current tenants have used that as their primary heat source for the house in the winter. They have a very large family, and like to keep it toasty inside. They go through five cords of wood each winter, I’m told (= $1,000 in our part of PA). We tend to keep things on the cool side in the winter, so we probably wouldn’t use as much wood. We’ll let the radiators heat the bedrooms at night.

The thing I worry about is not knowing how hard we’re going to be hit with that heating bill. I didn’t grow up in an area where people used heating oil for their homes, so I’m flying blind here. I think we’ll be okay, but I’m not sure. Any Northeasterners among you have advice? There are many positive aspects to moving out to this wonderful house, so I’m thinking we’ll probably take it. This is the main concern I have, though. Am I worrying about nothing? Help me out here, Yankees.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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