We ran out of heating oil. Mind, that was our plan – but I’d rather hoped it would last until the end of the month. It didn’t. We have had high winds and some wintery conditions – so the oil got consumed faster than expected. At the same time, the woodpile at our landlord’s was still under four feet of snow. That meant using the electric heaters parsimoniously – I wore my fluffy bathrobe over everything, and Nicholas pulled on a thick North Sea sweater.
Two weeks into the cold house situation, Milli called. Paul had taken the tractor with the front end loader down behind their house and dug out the wood – it was a bit snow and ice-covered; did we want it? Yes, and we went to pick it up, too. Nicholas and I have a lot of expereince loading firewood into the back of our pickup. I get in the bed and he tosses the pieces in; I stack it. The first time we bought a pickup load of wood, we didn’t pay much attention to how we stacked it, and we rather cheated ourselves. But I have a knack for fitting it together like a puzzle, and depending on how it is cut and split, I can fit at least 1/3 cord in the bed. This does make the backend a bit heavy, so I don’t want to go far with it.
Nicholas split some softwood scraps into kindling, and I have the fire going. It is woodheat warm! The hot paint smell (as expected of all new stoves) is apparent but not too strong. The carpenter who installed the stove said when he bought a new stove for his cottage, the burning paint smell was so strong that he had to disconnect the stove and take it outside to burn off the paint residue. I had a window open for a couple of hours, but it isn’t overpowering or unpleasant.
I got the oven up to 300 degrees (F) so I put some quesadillas in along with a pan of spicy apple slices. What I love about this Bakers Choice stove is the positive closing oven door. It is hinged on the side with real hinges, and has a latch to close the door completely. Most stoves, whether woodburning or modern, have a spring hinge at the bottom of the oven door, and eventually it gets weak and the door doesn’t close all the way. Or it sags badly when it is opened. This door seals tight, so there is no loss of heat around it.
I feel very contented to know that we have a source of heat and cooking that is independent of electric supply and oil companies. I bought a cord of hardwood at what I think is a good price for this area; we think in the course of a year we might use five cords of wood. This will at least halve our heating bill, as well as lower oour electric bill, and the stove should pay for itself in a little more than two years, while it is expected to last 20+ years. It wouldn’t be as practical in a place where wood is scarce or very expensive, or where air pollution is already a problem. But so far, the stove is burning this dry hardwood very thoroughly, and we rarely see a puff of grey smoke from the chimney.