02 February 2009

Paul Bunyan and His Wood Stove

k Old houses come with unforeseen territory. When we first moved in, the beautiful fireplace, which is fueled by propane, ran night and day. In the evening the dogs and cats huddled by it to keep warm, and in the middle of the night I could see the flames from it, in the darkness, from my side of our bed. And then one night, three weeks after we moved in, we awoke to a very cold house and our bed filled with three dogs and several cats; all of whom were searching for warm blankets to snuggle under. How could this be? We had just bought fuel. Surely, we couldn't be out. Ah, but when you have the fireplace and the heater in the kitchen working 'round the clock, the propane goes fast. Really fast!
So J and I decided that the wood stove in the corner of the living room was obviously installed for a reason more than just to be a conversation piece. We could figure this out. And heat our house for free. Free! It would be a breeze. Collect some wood, throw it in and presto-free heat! No more paying that big ugly truck to come fill up our fuel tank. Learning the tricks of the trade for using a wood stove are many. But the first thing we had to learn was as wood burns, you have to add more! All day and all night. The wood may be free but the labor is another story.
J quickly got to work on living out his fantasy as Paul Bunyan. Mr. Neighbor, who became our first friend in our new mountain home, became the tree-chopping, wood-splitting best friend of J. Together they have cut down more trees and split more wood than some professional loggers do in a whole season. Hickory, Walnut, Wild Cherry, Post Oak, Red Oak, Poplar. J learned his trees. What burns slow, hot, fast...And we both learned how to keep the wood stove happy. All day and all night.
Every once in a while we still awake in the middle of the night to a chilly house and a bed full of critters. It's not the propane that went out, it's the wood stove, asking for Paul Bunyon to get out bed, and feed it another stack of wood. But, hey, it's free heat. Isn't it? (umm, you better ask J) k

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