Sunday, November 23

Sunday Farm Photo: Heat Cheat

Firewood Blocks: A Busy Farmgirl's New Best Friend

Both The Shack and the new building (which we're actually getting sort of close to moving into—finally!) are heated with wood. There's an inefficient potbellied stove in the living room of The Shack that looks cute and feels wonderful if you're cozied up to it, but it barely heats the other rooms in our poorly built and uninsulated old home.

The new building, on the other hand, has the opposite problem—we bought a massive wood furnace and probably went a little overboard. It's made in Minnesota, and it turns out their idea of 'mild fall weather' is at least 30 degrees colder than ours. But so far it works beautifully, and I'm sure we'll quickly get spoiled by the joys of having central heat. I do love to pile on the quilts and blankets and snuggle up in polarfleece come winter, but I'm pretty sure I won't miss waking up to find a thin layer of ice on the water glass next to my bed.

Since we're used to drafts and both get claustrophobic quickly, we figure that once we're moved into our new double-insulated, draft-free living quarters we'll simply keep a couple of windows cracked open all winter long. This sounds like a perfect plan to me—stay warm and yet still have plenty of fresh air. Kind of like when I used to drive around in a convertible in California with the top down and the heater on.

Because the new plumbing has been hooked up in the new building (yes!), we now have both the little woodstove and the big wood furnace going, which means we're burning a lot of firewood. (The little woodstove is so inefficient it actually uses almost as much wood as the furnace.) We usually cut our own firewood, but lately we've been supplementing with these wood blocks that are scraps from a local mill. We have a dumptruck load delivered at a time, and we're discovering that they're really convenient.

When we gather our own firewood, we either cut down dead trees in the woods on our property, or we cut up trees that have fallen over on their own. Once in a while we'll cut down a live tree if it will make more space for the others around it. It's hard but rewarding work. With these blocks, it's nice knowing that we're making good use of something that's essentially waste. And it's even nicer knowing that we can be a little lazy when it comes to keeping our woodpile stocked—especially when it's 28 degrees outside and snowing.

Want to see more firewood photos?
9/6/05: The Hay Is In, So Now It's Firewood Season
10/25/05: Nothing Feels Quite Like Wood Heat
10/26/05: Where We Cut Firewood
10/26/05: Why We Cut Firewood
12/11/05: Firewood Getting Low. Ever Cut in the Snow?
2/21/06: Note to Self Re Snowstorm Preparation
12/4/07: Just Another Day At the Office

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where there's no 'we' in the 'we cut firewood'—it's just my hunky farmguy. I'm a crackerjack wood loader and unloader, and I can clomp around in the woods with the best of them, but I leave the chainsawing and splitting to him. A girl's gotta draw the line somewhere—and besides, it's a lot more fun to watch.


  1. I used to love going to cut firewood with my dad. We had a modern house, with modern heat, but they always preferred a fire in the fireplace "stove". I actually did too. And it was pretty efficient as well. I can't wait to see pictures of the new "building"!

  2. OOH how I wish for a woodburner. My parents offered to give us theirs, we just have to install the chimney, don't think we'll get that done this winter.

    I can't wait to see the new building. How exciting!

  3. Did you know in Northern California we have Spare the Air days, where, now, you're not even allowed to use your fireplace? They have spies driving around through the neighborhoods, writing citations.
    Enjoy your new building!!! Eek, how happy.

  4. Sounds very exciting! I used to love having a wood-burning stove, but in Utah they're pretty restricted. (You can only use the stove on certain days, when the air pollution is not too high, and in the winter those days are rare.)

    Nowdays I have a gas fireplace which isn't the same, but it does feel good when it's cold. I think you are going to love being cozy with fresh air!

  5. Do you have one of those outdoor wood furnaces? Our friends have one of those, and their house is always about 80 degrees all winter long.

    I invent reasons to visit them in the winter just so I can thaw out.

    And I also do not do any chainsawing or splitting. I like my husband to still feel like he's useful for something . . .

  6. We used to visit friends who were blacksmiths in rural WV and I remember nights where we were snowed in and their potbellied stove was running and my dad would get up in the night to put more wood in the stove - and downstairs was warm and toasty - but upstairs where the children slept ---had about 4 beds in one big room was so cold and we each had about five quilts on us which was great for warmth in bed but sooooo cold when we jumped out of bed.... needless to say bathroom trips were the quickest ever!

  7. Wood heat is SO comforting and warm!! We heat our 100 year-old (drafty) farmhouse in Oregon with wood, too, using its original wood furnace located down in the basement. Heat rises--up through a centrally located outlet on the main floor that is covered with an ornate metal grate, and onward up the staircase to the bedrooms above.

    On really cold days I like to straddle the grate letting my nightgown or workshirt billow out with heat--HEAVENLY. :D

    We get mill-ends and what-nots from a mill closeby to augment downed trees and other found firewood, but your blocks look perfect!

    I enjoy your posts so much--made my first batch of Farmhouse White just today; I always know that I can find inspiration (and so much more) every time I visit.

  8. Just in time for the chill! Enjoy it. Mmm...a wood stove, fresh bread, and a sweetie. Sounds like a great recipe for curling up on a cold night. :)

  9. I love wood heat! I'm still pushing for something here - but it looks like the best chance is to visit Norm in his shop, which will be heated by wood.

    I used to stand on the heat vents in a friend's house to warm up - in fact would put a chair on the vent and sit there when I was coldest.

    Oh, you are not cheating with your wood blocks - someone has to use them or they would go to waste! Great plan!

  10. Not cheatin' just heatin'! All is fair in love and cold weather - we had hoped to change out our very inefficient fireplace for a woodstove but our economy is a bit stagnant right now. Love the practicality of using the waste from a mill!

  11. Hi Farmgirl

    I'm so glad to here that you are getting close to having your new place done and what a treat to have all that wood to burn.

    enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving.

    Sharon from Western Michigan

  12. I grew up with a wood stove, and I even fondly remember all of the time we spent hauling wood to keep it stocked. You didn't by chance happen to purchase a stove from Central Boiler? They are a well-known stove company not too far from where I grew up in MN, and my parents have one of their stoves.

  13. We use wood blocks also. We often cut them down for kindling. We live in the Pacific NW where wood is plentiful and cheap.

    Enjoy your wood heat, there is nothing else as cozy...well except body heat. I guess that would make cuddling up with your honey next to the wood stove the very best thing!!! Kim

  14. We have a neighbor, right here in our fair city, who heats his home with a woodstove. One sign of autumn is his winter woodpiles going up. When he has extra, he often offers it to us for our fireplace.

  15. I have seen all of your pictures.I love your blog because so many of your pictures like my friend's farm.


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