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When the woodsplitter comes out of storage, you know another year has turned, and the cycle has started again: last week we were scavenging stove wood to heat us for the next few days, and this week we are preparing for another winter of heating with wood. Around here, a dry day before the flies are out is not wasted.
Our modest home boasts not one, but three methods of heating. The first was the oil furnace, because the bank required it when we built the house. Apparently, in this wooded land, a home is not marketable without an oil-burning heat source! So it was dutifully bought and installed, but remains seldom used. I think we’ve filled the tank twice in our fifteen years here.
The second, simultaneous with the first, was our preferred heat: the humble wood stove. It’s a tiny thing, cast iron on four legs, but it heats the room beautifully. The heat is uneven; it sucks the moisture out of the air; and a little smoke escapes into the room from time to time. But it’s dependable. We still use it, for pure comfort, on the very coldest winter days.
Five years later, we decided that the little woodstove, with all its rustic charm and simple efficiency, was not enough: we wanted a thermostat. More precisely, we wanted the comfort of thermostatically controlled heat combined with the sustainability of local fuel. We installed an outdoor wood furnace and we’ve never looked back.
Some of our firewood comes from our own land, but most is bought and delivered in log length. Our Cadillac of a furnace surely consumes more wood than the little indoor stove, and all of it has to be cut and split. But it’s satisfying work, or so I’m told. We’ve got a good hydraulic splitter and enough trees in the area to last many lifetimes. And today was a fine day for splitting wood.