12 to 1

We’re on a short pre-holiday get-away in the White Mountains, just a couple miles from the location in our masthead photo.  It looks like a winter wonderland here.  If any readers are languishing in dreary, muddy, snow-less parts of the northeast at the moment, I suggest altering your plans to come up this way for the Christmas weekend.  It will put you in the spirit of candy icicles and sleigh bells.

With some time to while away I was just reading this month’s Yankee magazine.  There’s an article about dairy farming in Vermont.  The author mentions, parenthetically, that his neighbor (a dairy farmer) has a wood furnace in his cellar, and burns 12 cords of firewood a year.  Fooooo.  I really can’t imagine handling an entire order of magnitude more firewood than we do now.  Just stacking that much would leave me ready to sleep for a year– to say nothing of the sawing and splitting.  Plus I’d need to build an extra house just to store it.  Do any readers burn wood, either as primary or secondary heat?  How much do you go through a winter?

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3 Responses to “12 to 1”

  1. Jane Says:

    15 cords is actually an improvement over the 20 to 25 a year many farm folks around here tell me they burn in their old “smoke dragon” woodstoves.

    Bear in mind these folks live in largely uninsulated, drafty old rambling farmhouses and are burning essentially unseasoned wood in wildly inefficient old woodstoves. They get up once or twice in the middle of the night to reload the stove, and sleep on the floor in front of it on really cold nights. I know folks who don’t cut firewood until they’ve about run out, then run up into their woodlots, cut down a tree, buck and split it and throw it right in the stove.

    Modern woodstoves (so-called “EPA stoves”) like you and I have are vastly more efficient, but they require really dry (seasoned) wood to function.

    I use about 2 1/2 cords of firewood a year. I do aim for a reasonably warm temperature (ideally 70, but more often somewhere in the 60s is the best I can do) around the stove itself, but I’m not trying to heat the 2nd floor bedrooms or the first floor rooms a little way from the main room. My house is very old but small and reasonably well insulated, especially up in the attic crawlspace, and has old but decent aluminum storm windows.

    I hope to get a bigger stove for next year, and my guess is I’d use 4 or 5 cords for the year if I do. That will mean more work stacking but less splitting, since I have to hand-split my firewood quite small to get my tiny stove hot enough to do the job.

    I have a lovely little soapstone Hearthstone Tribute, bought before oil prices went through the roof and I was using it only for the occasional pleasure of it.

    You do realize Yankee magazine is aimed at affluent suburban and city folks who like to fantasize about living in the country? If you want a more helpful magazine for living a more rough-and-ready rural life, Grit is what you want. Mother Earth News is also useful.

  2. Cold House Journal Says:

    Oh, we don’t get Yankee at home– we read MOE there. There just happened to be a copy of Yankee in our hotel room, and it was more appealing than the other options (golf and wine magazines…)

  3. bridget qualey Says:

    We burn about 6 cord a year in our 1907 Fortress Crawford cookstove. We do all our cooking on it for 10 months of the year so I guess we can claim some of that quantity as cooking fuel too. Our cookstove is our primary heat tho we do have an oil fired hot air furnace as back up. My husband worked at home as a software engineer for years – now retired- so between our schedules it runs nearly 24 hours a day.

    Our house is old too. It is not huge and is fairly well insulated, but we still end up in a center hearth gesture- gathering around the stove- most of the winter. Our daughters have radiator type space heaters in their rooms when they are around which seems to work for them, but we have never taken the time or effort to calculate how much that costs- it might scare us!

    Living with heat wood is our family’s lifestyle choice. We live “in town” so have to buy our wood cut and split tho it does get “shredded” as I call it, before coming inside to the woodbox tho I harass my husband to leave some “maintenance pieces” that will burn more slowly when we aren’t around to feed the fire.

    Back to lifestyle- burning wood is a lot of work, but it is also an opportunity to engage in a direct daily rhythm that provides our winter warmth. I do fantasize about having a more energy efficient home, but I know that to be able to cook on wood it needs to burn at a certain rate which then could create heat enough to “drive you out” of a too hot house. Ah the dilemmas.

    But having direct radiant heat to sit in front of- my classic place is in my rocker with my feet propped on the oven floor- is one of the seven wonders of life. And now that I have my handy dandy Apple lap top I don’t need to drag my soapstone over to my desk to keep my feet warm. And yes, the soapstone wams my bed most nights now that all my hot water bottles have sprung leeks.

    What else but wood heat would create such are lovely winter flow if we didn’t stack, load, split, carry and feed the stove wood!

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