Heating With Wood

| 2/15/2011 11:33:39 AM


A photo of Robyn DolanHow nice it is to turn a knob and be warm. How expensive! How grateful we are to have finally installed a woodstove at the homestead. Our first several years here were all about keeping the thermostat low and bundling up. Admittedly, heating with wood can be alot of work, especially when you cut your own firewood. But there is nothing else that takes the chill off like a toasty fire in the stove or fireplace. An added bonus is that the teapot placed on top of the hot stove will stay warm.

Wood heating is most practical if you have a wood lot, live near the forest, or have another nearby source of wood. We live near the forest, so heating season starts in April or May as soon as wood permits go on sale. We make a trip to the Ranger Station and buy our permit, which runs about $5 a cord. A cord is a neatly stacked pile of wood measuring 4x4x8 feet. We then tune up and sharpen the chain saw, gas up the truck and head out to the woods. There are limitations here as to what we can cut, we usually just go for trees that are dead and down. We get alot of cedar and juniper this way and enough pine to get it started burning. Cedar and juniper are good, hard firewood choices as they tend to burn hot and for a long time compared to pine, which is very soft and burns fast, which is good for starting the fire.

Jac in a tree

We go woodcutting throughout the spring, summer and fall.  It's a great excuse for a day in the forest and keeps us in shape.  There is nothing like watching a young boy let loose his natural wildness and imagination in the woods.  While mom loads the truck, her indian scout prowls the perimeter, keeping away dragons, tigers and bears. Some trees provide a lookout to watch for enemy soldiers.  Others bridge raging rivers, while small, close stands of trees offer a hideout from bad guys. While we usually try to go wood gathering on the days the teddy bears have their picnic, we have yet to catch them at it. We keep trying, I think maybe they'll invite us to join them when we do.

When winter comes we cover as much of the wood as we can to keep it dry and ready to burn. We bring several days' supply into the house and stack it by the stove with plenty of dry kindling and newspaper. We make sure the chimney's clean. Then begins the routine of starting the evening fire, banking it before bed, scooping out ashes and stirring up the coals in the morning and adding more kindling and logs to warm the house. Sometimes it seems like alot of work, but when we're snuggled up in front of the fire with a good book and a hot drink, it's all worth it.

Robyn Dolan
2/17/2011 7:18:53 AM

Dave, It's true. My mom and dad have a beautiful fireplace, but the blower takes alot of electricity, and they just use it for amiance mostly. It is nice to sit in front of on a cold and rainy day, though, to take the chill off.

Nebraska Dave
2/16/2011 5:48:22 PM

Robyn, The best the urban dwellers can to is install a fireplace insert. I suppose one could install a woodburning stove but wood in the urban areas is a premium item and usually only the folks with fireplaces burn wood and only for the ambiance of it and not for the heat. I'm not sure what a cord of wood would cost but you are correct about not being worth it if a ready souce of wood supply was not handy. Chainsaws and spliters are just manly tools that we guys like to play with. It just does something deep in our soul to be able to control such destructive power. I still remember the saying about heating with wood. "You get heated up once when you cut the wood and once when you burn the wood." Have a great wood heat day.

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