Our thoughts have been consumed with gathering more wood as the winter grows colder here in the southeast. Try as we might, we never seem to build a big enough pile to get us through until Spring. This is only the second winter that we’ve heated solely with wood, so we’re still trying to figure out exactly how much we need to keep us warm from late November through early April. It’s easy to underestimate. It can also be difficult for my husband to find time to cut up trees with his demanding work schedule.
Jerry tries to get into the woods as soon as he gets home, and works on chopping up fallen trees ’til it’s almost too dark to see. Then he loads them into a trailer on the back of the lawnmower and hauls them back to the house. We use Jerry’s grandfather’s log splitterto break the logs into pieces that will fit into the wood stove. It makes the work SO much quicker. I can split logs while Jerry stacks them or goes back for more trees. Jerry hurt his back a couple months ago though, so the work has been slow going.
We were down to burning green (unseasoned) wood, which burns slow and cold, when some friends learned of our condition and blessed us with a dump truck load of seasoned logs. I don’t know what we’ve done to find such generous people to call friends. They truly rescued us.
The kids and I bundle up during the day to try to save the wood to burn overnight when it’s much colder in the house. We use fans to push the warm air from the living room down the hall to the children’s bedrooms.
We’re considering knocking down the wall where the fireplace separates the homeschool room from the living room, and opening that space up for a free-standing wood stove, which we think would be much more efficient than the wood stove inserted into the fireplace. But that would be quite a remodel as it’s a load-bearing wall.
If we had the money and ability, we’d put a Russian Masonry Heater in place of the entire fireplace wall. That would be a dream.
I don’t know what we’re going to do, but we need to do something. We’re losing way too much heat up the chimney. We thought about pulling the wood stove out in front of the fireplace, and running the stovepipe from the back of the stove up into the wall above the fireplace, connecting into the chimney there. I suppose that’s another option, though it would take up more floor space.
Anyways, these are our thoughts right now as we try to stay warm through the Winter. We’re going to have to really focus on building a significant wood pile in Spring so that it has enough time to cure before next Winter. Having seasoned wood for heating and cooking will be critical for off-grid survival.