We were stacking wood on the front porch when the book from my brother arrived. It was a book called Norwegian Wood: Chopping, Stacking, and Drying Wood The Scandinavian Way. Here in the winter time our wood is at the center of our lives. It book ends the day. This morning when I got out of bed to go get some fuel into the mule's and Pickle's bellies in the form of hay, the thermometer read 22F. The windows in the bedroom were wide open, the field out side was covered in a heavy white frost. I could see my breath in the cabin.We heat only with wood and the fire in the stove had gone out in the night.
I think it's good for one to pop out of a warm bed in to a cold room. Gets the system firing and keeps you hardy. But oh, when the fire in the wood stove gets going and the coffee is ready, how nice it is to feel that stored heat of the sun radiating not only out in to the room but also in side you. Oh how lovely to watch the flames licking away at the wood, wood that Bernie has splint by hand and I have helped to stack and harvest, sometimes even with the help of a mule to twitch out the logs.
Each morning and evening we sit cozily in front of the wood stove. It gives us great pleasure to watch the wood chewing on cherry, or poplar, black birch, and occasional pieces of old apple tree. We use pine and poplar for the splits and of course rationed sticks of fat wood to get it going. I indulge in 3 sticks and Bernie does it with only 2. We never use paper and we never have any problem in getting this great little stove to just fire right up. Of course they are top down fires, wood stacked tight in decreasing size from bottom to top.
We think about the BTUs of the various woods and build fires according to the outside temps, cooler fires for warmer weather. That's when it's nice to have the Poplar choice in the stack.
Living here with Bernie at the cabin was the first I ever even understood that there was an art and craft to wood fires. That there was a way to operate a stove for efficiency and clean burning. To drive one like an engineer knowing when to throttle down, when to engage the catalytic converter. What to do if you must add more cool wood to an already hot fire. There is a lot of pride and satisfaction in driving the wood stove well.
Things like the wood stove and the thought and energy and physical work that goes into the assurance of a cozy winter spent is one reason why I like the life out here so much. I've not been so content with life since living on our farm in Vermont as a child. This rural life with animals and a great partner is the way to go for me. I enjoy the physical element of tending to our winter needs as well as those of our animals.
Below a few pictures of my day.