How 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 a lot 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 the 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 a lot 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.
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 and banking it before bed. Scooping out ashes, stirring up the coals in the morning, adding more kindling and logs to warm the house. Sometimes it seems like a lot 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.