Tag Archives: heat

A Well Needed Break


The past few days have given us a well needed break from the sub 30F temperatures that gobble up the wood, but today is the last of that. Tomorrow the temps dip back down below 20F during the day and below zero at night. While the last stretch wasn’t too horrible to endure, thanks to the backup heat of an oil furnace and an abundance of maple and birch for a wood source, I’m a bit concerned this next one might be a tad more difficult. We’re now into a cord of willow. Many people refuse to burn willow. It burns hot and fast. It means more reloads and less of a chance that there will be coals in the morning. Given that it was split in early December – after being cut for the appropriate amount of time – and that it was from a tree larger than 24″ at breast height, some of the wood is fighting to dry out still. That means stacking it in the house before using it.

Prepping for this next snap also meant busting out more kindling as we’ve used up much of what I prepped in the fall. While Little Mister played in his room, I was able to move to the front wood bin the wood for the next day or so and work out a wheelbarrow full of kindling. Even though it will be cold out tomorrow, here’s hoping I get the chance to get another load in.

It might be willow, but it will burn.

Gobbling Up Wood

At the beginning of this heating season we received some bad news: the family land where we had been doing our cutting would be sold. We had a feeling that this would happen. Once Joe’s grandfather passed away, it was only a matter of time. The problem with being environmentally minded folks who burn wood but only live on .75 acres is the necessity with being granted access to a woodlot.

The past couple months we’ve been on pins and needles trying to figure something out while not driving ourselves bloody mad over it. Through out meditations and schemes, we finally hit upon something. Being the type to barter our abilities, Joe was talking to a local turkey farmer and family friend that had mentioned a while ago about Joe taking charge of the business’ website. When Joe mentioned our predicament, Bob Neal of The Turkey Farm (this website is the current one – Joe won’t be working on a new one for a month or so) was more than willing to help us out.

While the details still need to be sorted, it’s a huge relief to know that we have a source of warmth for next winter.

Trips, Harvests, and Winter On The Way

So for those who may have not heard, the Raymond family will be taking a trip out to New York. The man of the house has training to do out there for work. We’ve been blessed that work will pay for the wife and the kiddo to go along, as no one in this house has even been out that way. As nerve wracked as we all are about the upcoming trip, we lucked out and will have a very awesome family friend who has dealt with both anxiety riddled dogs and chickens before staying at the house.  With a house/criddo sitter lined up, the stress is reduced some, but it still means that there’s way more to do than there are hours in the day.

The gardens still need to be finished up for the winter. Seeds need to be collected from some areas, and others need the carcasses of plants pulled up and composted. Manure needs to be laid down for winter, or at least a layer or two of newspaper. There are a few beds (lettuce and broccoli) that will remain untouched as an experiment to see if theses things will indeed come back year after year.

We’ve collected all the hot peppers, bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, and lettuce that we could eek out of the gardens. Now we’re simply waiting for the beans to finish drying up before we can harvest the seeds. This year we’re planning on gathering the usual bean seeds – both bush and pole style – and pumpkin seeds, but we’ll be adding in cucumber seeds, basil, hog’s heart tomato, Cheyenne, and stuffing pepper seeds. With any luck, we’ll be able to sprout them next spring.

We’re slowly gaining on our wood needs. The kindling bin is half full. We have two and a half cords cut, split, and stacked. About a third to a half cord lies in wait for the ax. We were gifted three Ranger fulls of wood by Uncle Dennis and Aunt Leona. There are also a few trees on the side of the road that we’ll be weeding out. It will be tight seasoning some of it by the time we crack into it, but at least it will be there. We may need to resort to borrowing or renting a splitter to get it all finished up, however.

There is plastic waiting in the basement for the windows, and scraps piled up to make a couple window quilts to help cut the draft on the kitchen windows. Clothes still need to have holes mended, blankets need to be washed and laid out, and inventory needs to be taken of things to knit. Planting supplies needs to go into the basement, and the shovels need to arise from their slumber.

The next three weeks will be crazy, to say the least. Wonderful, eventful, busy, and crazy, but we’ll be loving every minute of it.

Let there be fire!

I’m not going to make this a long, lengthy post as I think Joe would be the best one to handle explaining all the background and particulars of our long journey to wood burning, but we’ve done it!

We’ve been using the stove for over a month and love it. We do still have oil backup since Teeny (lovebird) can’t get below 62F for long at all, but it’s barely been running.

Needless to say, we love it! :-)

The Long And Winding Road

As many of you may know, our home is an on-going project (who’s isn’t?).  And we are planning on adding a wood boiler into the mix to supply most of our heating needs during the year.  However, even with the freebie Memco MW100 Tasha’s inlaws are giving us, it will require a couple grand to install it ourselves.

So, I’ve made some steps to get us there.  There are several things more important than the boiler (even though at times I try to put the wood burning at the top of the list).

Step 1:

– Fix dip in living room ceiling
– Regrade land around foundation for better drainage
– Basement
– – – – Install new 150 gallon oil tank
– – – – Remove old 220 gallon oil tank
– – – – Inspect/Repair as necessary all floor joists
– – – – Jack up and support dip near basement stairs
– Install new light in upstairs bathroom
– Pay off Discover Card
– Add more insulation to old side of attic
– Install drop-down attic stairs
– Repair all wonky outlets (some of our 110v outlets aren’t mounted well)
– Develop all 35mm film (we have 15+ rolls undeveloped, some 10+ years old)

Step 2:

– Have foundation inspected (and repaired if necessary)
– Finish digging sump pit in basement
– Wire in separate gfci outlet with it’s own switch for sump pump
– Rewire phone jacks (add jack in kitchen and master bedroom)
– Install whole-house water filter

Step 3:

– Build shed, install wood boiler
– Have wood boiler run two “Kickspace heaters” downstairs (need to keep the wood and oil systems separate so we don’t loose our service contract on the old oil boiler).  Each boiler will have it’s own thermostat, the oil will be turned down so that if the wood heat goes out or the kickspace heaters can’t keep up with demand, the oil will kick on and run the normal baseboards.

Step 4:

– Add 300 gallons of thermal storage to the wood system (100,000 btu/hr at 40F delta T, enough to run the house heat for 6 hours on a 0F winter day, 24 hours in the spring and fall or provide domestic hot water for 10 DAYS in the summer)
– Switch domestic hot water from oil to wood heat (leave oil boiler’s dhw coil hooked up, plumbed in so we can manually switch back to oil dhw if necessary)

Step 5:

– Swap oil and wood zones.  The oil will now be regular backup, only supplying heat to the kickspace heaters.  The regular baseboard will be in everyday use again but now by the wood instead of the oil.  The oil will kick on if the wood and storage run out of heat and the house get’s below 62F (need to keep it relatively warm because of our Lovebird).

So, that’s the plan.  It might take 3-5 years to get all the way to Step 5, and something may throw a wrench in the plans as it seems that happens a lot.  But at least things are looking good for now.