Wood Stove Season Ends

By , April 19, 2012

With the onset of warmer weather, we’ve gone without fires in the woodstove some days lately. If it’s particularly cool or wet, we might have a small fire in the morning or evening, but the season of heating the cabin all day has passed. And, I have to admit, I miss it all ready.

It’s not the warmth I need. I noticed Tuesday morning that I’d broken out in a sweat just from eating a warm breakfast, even though the room was no more than 62°. What I miss is the convenience of an “always on” hotplate.

Every day during the wood heat season, even if we plan to use the hot water heater, we fill our big kettle and put it on the stove. It might be moved minutes later for the tea kettle, or a frying pan, but when those short term needs are met, the big kettle goes back on. From it, we’ll have several gallons of hot water if and when it’s needed. If not, it sits through the night, slowly releasing its heat to the room until the next morning’s fire.

Hot water creates the base line. Beyond that, many of our meals, especially lunches, can be prepared on a warm woodstove. If we need it hot, we can always throw on a few more sticks of wood and heat it up in a hurry. Wet clothing can be dried above it as needed.

I know that it won’t be long before I’ll hardly think about a fire. We always have the propane stove. I may begrudge using the gas right now, meditating on the cost and the inconvenience of hauling the heavy bottles from the road, but before long we’ll be relieved to be able to cook without the cabin becoming unbearably warm. As I work toward filling the wood shed for next winter, I will appreciate losing the attrition of daily fires. During the summer, the cabin itself is often warmed to uncomfortable temperatures (for us) by the sun. The only real issue becomes the paper trash accumulation, which helps start our fires in the winter. A little bit gets used starting the hot water heater, but not enough. We generally end up burning trash on the beach a few times from late spring through early autumn.

Continuing my wine and soda making will recquire adjustment, but I imagine I can handle most of the hot water needs for those projects with the Kelly kettle. We’ll no doubt use the hot water heater more often, which will give us a chance to clean up the yards of broken branches and other wood scrap that inevitably accumulates. As for the paper trash, we’re realizing that it can be composted well, so our excess will be converted to garden soil this summer.

3 Responses to “Wood Stove Season Ends”

  1. Judy says:

    Found your “Wood Stove Season Ends” posting quite interesting. Actually, I proclaimed a sigh of relief in your direction! One less daily task for your household occupants. Just wondering how long your weekly to-do list? It sounds like you have crossed off one big job of already having firewood in place for next winter; a forward taskmaster for sure, as well as just having several gallons of hot water available at a moment’s notice. (As an aside, the Saturday before Easter our almost brand-new Year 2010 30-gallon hot water quit generating hot water. DH found the unit’s paperwork and phoned the mfg. direct re: parts replacement on a Sunday, but we had to wait until FedEx delivered the parts on Tuesday to have our neighbor-contractor do the repairs (for a mere $65.00/one hour’s labor). Believe me, having to heat water in a large canning kettle/pot (no teakettle) and carefully carry it through rooms with carpet to the bathroom for bathing and shaving and shampooing nearly caused us insurmountable “hardship” for about 4 nights. Yup, we are so spoiled. And, to think people in Third World countries have to worry about potable safe drinking water.

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Hi Judy,

    Oh, would that the the job of gathering the firewood were finished! Actually, I’m way behind compared to last year, but quickly catching up.

    Our “to-do” list is one of those that, if we bothered to list everything, would be quite long. We try to prioritize, as there’s always something we could be doing. Most days, mine is about 4 items long, usually including the standards: cut and haul firewood, write (usually means the blog, but should mean the book as well), work for current Web client (sporadic, and winding down now). Day-by-day, it’s not so daunting, and a good deal of it is provisional, based on available power.

    I sympathize with your water problems so much! I’ve often contemplated the difference in our life from the “old” way, wondering which can be more problematic. The complacency that established systems will continue to operate as intended is seductive in both lifestyles. The difference is that you pay through the nose to have someone else fix it, while we save the money, but must take the responsibility to fix it on ourselves. Some days I’m okay with that, some days I’m not . . . . The best I can say is that we’re a bit more mentally prepared for the possibility that things will go wrong, and in a situation to “work around” far more easily than more urban dwellers. But, it’s hard to say which is better.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

    Mark

  3. Valerie says:

    We thought we had used the fireplace insert for the last time, but tonight is supposed to be 39 degrees here in South Carolina!

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