Friday, December 26, 2008

Wood Supply's Hanging in There

Our once full wood shed is no longer full. But that's what happens when you heat with wood, and we have already had three serious wood burning months this fall/winter season.

Although we've used a good fourth of the wood from here, the good news is that nearly all of the wood we've burned so far was half-punky wood from trees that had either fallen or we took down because they were dead and near buildings or driveways. Do I mean to say I'm happy we've had punky wood? Noooo, not at all, because the thing is punky wood burns much faster than solid, hard wood without giving off nearly as much heat. That means we have to feed more of it into the wood stove to get as much heat as we want. Pretty much all the wood left in the shed now is nice maple or birch (which is a very good thing), so we'll go through that slower than the less desirable wood we've already used.

This is one of our two racks of "all nighters." They are large diameter logs of hard wood that we put in the stove at night. Happily, one of these along with perhaps one or two small logs, will hold a fire for us all night. We've yet to touch this rack but have used just under one-half of the other rack.

And here's the wood stove that eats all our wood. Well, actually not all our wood as we have a wood stove in the garage also that gets fed its share much of the time now.

One of the reasons we really like our wood stove is that by opening the door, and adding a screen to the front, we've got the advantage of an open fireplace. Nearly every night for about an hour before bedtime, we park in front of the open stove to read, talk, or do some kind of handwork (with yours truly usually starting to nod off before the hour's over). It's a really nice way to end the day, and we both miss it in the summer time when we seldom make a fire. (You'll notice I said seldom make a fire. In the 35 years we've lived in Minnesota, you could probably count on one hand the months - yes, even in summer - that we haven't had at least one fire in the wood stove.)

These days we do have a small LP gas furnace in the basement that we use when we are gone or if the temperature is particularly cold. We caved and lit it one night a week or so ago during a spell hovering around -15 degrees for several nights. It helps by warming the floors and dispersing heat better to the end of the house farthest from the wood stove. We try to use it as little as possible because of the price of the fuel, but there's no denying the fact that our wood costs us also. There is our time and labor (lots of labor!), fuels for chainsaw, vehicle for hauling, and wood splitter. We have purchased wood on occasion, but try to use the wood available on our property of which there is a lifetime supply. The most time-consuming (and physically taxing) task is harvesting it and hauling it into the yard. And as many of you know, even on a small homestead, there's never enough time (or energy!) for all the chores needing to be done, let alone those you'd LIKE to do.

Basically, we're in good shape in the wood department this year, so no complaints. We're staying toasty warm . . . and thankful for it.


RuthieJ said...

Wow, that's a lotta wood! We have a fireplace in the basement that we run in the evening and on weekends. It really helps to warm up the house and the furnace doesn't run as much then, but our wood is going fast during this abnormally cold weather too.

We always buy firewood and just stacking it on the racks seems like a lot of work. I know we'd never find the time or energy to cut, split and haul enough to keep us warm for the winter. You guys are amazing!

Frustrated Farmer Rick said...

Man that stove is great! I wish we had something like that in our home. Truth is though that our 1870's farmhouse is already looking for an excuse to burst into flames. Just found you blog yesterday and am really enjoying reading through you back posts. Thanks


Mama Pea said...

Hi, Ruthie - Your mentioning of you two stacking your wood reminded me that I was going to point out that you'll notice the wood in our shed isn't stacked. This is the very first year we've ever just tossed the wood in to the wood shed. We've always stacked it neatly before but this year thought we'd try saving the time of stacking. I'm thinking the tossed in wood must take up more space than the stacked. So were we penny-wise and pound-foolish? Will we ever know for sure?

Hey, Rick - Welcome and thanks for the kind words. I notice you're a home-brewer! Roy has always wanted to get into beers and wines (homemade, that is; he's already into store-bought!) so you would be an excellent resource for him when he gets to that "wanna-do" on his list. Here's to ya!