Monday, December 22, 2008

Keeping warm during winter

The winters we've experienced here in Kentucky have been quite mild in comparison to some I remember on the plains of Central Illinois. However, that doesn't mean it doesn't get cold here. In fact, the temperature dropped to about 5 degrees last night. It was only in the low 20s today, but we're expecting a high of about 58 degrees on Wednesday.

Our vision of homesteading guides our adventures and endeavors. We want to provide for as many of our needs as we can, limiting our dependence on other systems and service providers. One area in which we have limited our dependence is for heat in our home when it gets cold outside. We heat with wood. To completely restrict our dependence on outside resources, I'd have to cut all of our firewood without the aid of my chainsaw. That could be done, but since it's not necessary at this point, I have not made the move to do without my Stihl MS250. Part or our intent is to be prepared for a time when services and conveniences may not be available. So, we still have utility bills and appreciate "modern conveniences."

To provide heat, we purchased an Amish-built, dual-purpose heating and cooking stove three years ago. It's a Bakers' Choice. We really like it. Previously, we used a wood heating stove that was in the garage when we moved here. There was already an insulated chimney installed through the roof in the mobile home. Yeah, most regulations say you're not supposed to have a wood stove in a mobile home, but for various reasons, I'm not concerned about those regulations. We are safe and responsible, and I'm enough of a Libertarian to believe that what I choose to do is none of the government's or anyone else's business.

I installed a new double-wall, insulated chimney when we bought our new stove. It has a 7" diameter rather than the usual 6". That's what the stove is made for, and the old 6" that was here previously needed to be replaced anyway.

Our heating needs so far have required only about 3 cords of wood each year. It doesn't take too long to cut that amount of wood, especially if it is easy to get to. By that, I mean if it doesn't require too much carrying up steep hillsides in order to get it out of the gully in which it lies. Most of what we've burned so far has been cut on other people's property. Why cut my own trees when others have dead trees or tops left from logging readily available? One neighbor friend is allowing us to cut up the tops from trees on the 40 acres he had logged. There is years' worth of wood in there, and we can drive right up to most of it. Dad, Danny, and I can several cords of wood in a day.

Today, the sun was shining, and it was quite a beautiful day. The temperature was only in the low 20s, though. I had some logs laying on the neighbors property across the fence from our home that Dad and I had drug up out of the gully this fall. We drug it with the tractor using several chains. These logs were from a couple of trees that had blown over early this summer. One was a cherry tree with three trunks ranging in diameter at the but end from 10 inches to 14 inches. The other was a maple tree that had blown over. It was much bigger, close to 24 inches in diameter. So, I decided to cut these logs into firewood today.

I cut them into 16 inch lengths, on average, a size that fits nicely in our stove. Most of these pieces needed splitting. So, after running one tank of gas through the saw, I began splitting them into the proper sizes. Dad showed up after a while with his splitting maul and helped split. He said he needed some exercise since he'd not been doing much because of all the rain we've been having. So, we split what I'd cut. Then, after lunch, I cut the rest of the logs into lengths, and Dad and I split them all into firewood.

After finishing all of the splitting, we loaded the wood on my 16 foot trailer. It's actually still on the trailer, because by the time we finished it was time to begin my chores. There ended up being a fairly nice load of wood out of the logs. I saved four small cherry logs (about 6 feet long) and one maple log to mill into lumber. I want to have cherry runners and maple risers for the stairway in our new house. I'll unload the trailer tomorrow, I expect. Tomorrow, Dad and I are planning to begin cutting up a big, old white oak that we drug out of another gully this fall. There will be two or three times as much wood out of it.

Prior to heading down the hill to do my chores, I snapped a few photos of the sunset. There was a bit of nice color. This one turned out nice. So, I thought I'd share.


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