Tuesday, 4 November 2014

The Reality of Keeping Warm


Minimal living is virtually impossible when you need to gather all the wood you possibly can to keep yourself and your house warm.  

When I see the pictures of lovely country fireplaces with a teeny tiny log basket, a handful of kindling artistically arranged and no stack of newspaper lying to hand to start the fire off, I always get the impression it's a set up .... or at the very least the central heating is working it's magic in the background.  Not of course that there's any harm in that, but it's not the reality of getting your warmth from wood.

The reality of keeping warm with only wood, whether it be foraged wood or wood bought in, is usually something like we have here.  It's no pretty picture however carefully we stack it around the wood burner .... but it is the reality.

Our wood comes mainly from our own woodland, we have around 2.5 acres stretching out behind the house and the paddock right up to the top of the hill.  It will, once we have worked our way through it coppicing and managing it properly, be enough to keep us warm through out the Winters to come. 

This year while we are in the midst of building works and setting things up we are making good use of stacks of wooden window frames that the house's previous owner left behind.  They have dried out nicely over the year we have been here and Lovely Hubby set to last week while I was away, sawing them into lengths that will fit into our wood burner.


Setting the fire is something I try to do in the morning, knowing that it is ready to put a match to when the temperature drops to make lighting it necessary or when we get back from somewhere chilled and damp, makes me feel better.  My first port of call during the day is always an extra jumper topped with my fleecy body-warmer, and then in the evening the blinds go down and then the curtains are pulled across, giving us an additional couple of barriers after the double glazing to trap the warmth of the house.

It all adds up to cosying the place up for the long evenings we now have.


Ready for action tonight.


And to finish off this post here are the final shots after yesterdays post about sorting out the kitchen.  All neatly arranged and fitting in snugly.


Something was bugging me when I looked at the first picture, so the offending items have been removed.  (Go on .... play Spot the Difference.)

I'm a minimalist at heart .... although you wouldn't guess it would you!!


And did you spot a little tail in the first picture ... and then a bottom in the second one.  Suky refused point blank to move while I took the pictures, although she did get fed up with me asking her to, hence the dropped tail :-)

Sue xx


25 comments:

  1. Hi Sue - we will be heating with wood in our new home once built. There is no gas as yet to our lot so would will be the primary heat and a pellet stove as well. In the carriage house, that we are starting out in while we build the house, we will have to have electric. Not looking forward to the bill at the end of winter. It's getting dark by 5pm now here and chilly. Enjoy that wood stove. Deb

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    1. I miss gas!! We've not been able to have a gas supply in any of our last houses. It's such an instant way of cooking and heating. I hope you can get well insulated if you have to be all electric for a while :-(

      Yep, it's dark here by 5pm now, the dogs had their afternoon walk by torchlight yesterday :-)

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    2. We installed a wood pellet boiler. It has taken a lot of remedial work to put right as it wasn't installed properly in the first place (we were one of the first customers) but we have hopefully got there now. The biggest difference we've noticed is how cheap it is to run compared with many of our neighbours' oil heating or electric. We have no gas here either. I would love a wood stove!

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  2. Must admit ours is not so full of wood. We really do not have room to stack any beside the burner itself. We have one large log basket with enough wood for one or two nights inside it. Papers, pine cones and kindling are in the conservatory in a cupboard, barely 6' away so that helps. The rest of our logs are stored in log sheds outside the dining room doors so easily to hand. Lucky you though, having your own woodland, we can only dream of one:)

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    1. The downside to having the woodland is of course everything outside on this wild, wet Welsh hillside is damp, or should that be wringing wet. The wood in the wood store outside is seasoning nicely but is still too damp to burn if we bring it straight in from there, so the wood for the four or five days ahead HAS to sit indoors for a final drying out. As the weather gets even more cold I think a basket will have to be kept in the conservatory/garden room too, using this as a 'halfway house' seems like a good idea. Luckily I have a large old washing basket that can be utilised.

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    2. Sue, just read your comment about 'half way house'. During our first winter with the wood burner our log store wasn't as protected as it is now and the logs were getting a bit damp (even though the wood was seasoned). Every weekend I filled tubs with logs and put them in the greenhouse which didn't get much winter use. I only keep a couple of day's worth in the house (no room for more) and it worked really well to bring completely dry tubs in from the g/house.

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  3. You are so right about photos of woodburners in houses, all neat and tidy. What also amuses me is the special spaces often constructed beside the wood burner to stack great big piles of logs, I always wonder how long it takes to stack them there one bit at a time and how many critters have come in on the logs. A basket is much quicker. We are using lots of old egg boxes for fire lighting at the mo, they do look strange piled up in the paper basket but needs must.

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    1. Egg boxes make brilliant fire lighters don't they. I put them on top of a couple of pieces of scrunched up newspaper and fill then with all the little twigs that migrate to the bottom of the kindling basket.

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  4. Judging by the long range forecast we will all need every ounce of wood in our woodsheds this winter!

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  5. Good luck with staying warm, and you are right about the wood burner vs the fireplace for warmth. We had a fireplace insert in our home in Illinois that would heat the big room it was in and several rooms around it.

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  6. We have an open fire which is lovely but I would like a woodburner in our next house, they are so much more efficient

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  7. Be careful having all that wood stacked so close to the fire, I've heard accounts of them catching light when the fire is going flat out. Our stove is a high efficiency one and it seems to have paid off as a basket of wood is more than enough for a fire all night. Stacks of newspaper everywhere though! And I never have enough kindling to hand although I've got loads ready somewhere!

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    1. I do keep tabs on how hot it gets, the wood at the back gets the hottest so gets used first. As it is always a bit damp when it comes in I think it gets burnt before it could cause a problem.

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  8. Am lighting our wood burner for the first time this year!! A word of warning, from one who knows - mind how you stack the window frames around the burner. I have a lot of that sort of wood that my husband gathers from jobs and friends in the know. A couple of years ago I had painted frames stacked beside our burner and I could smell burning, I checked the fire, thinking it might be the wind blowing back down the chimney, but couldn't see anything unusual so got on with whatever I was doing. I don't know what made me go back to check a while later, but thank goodness I did because the heat from the fire had ignited the paint on some of the wood and it was smouldering nicely!! Luckily the wood burner was down enough for me to put the smouldering wood on, and move the rest, which was very warm!!! A lesson learnt!! So be careful!! Glad you have settled into your forever home, I still enjoy reading your blog from here in Berks, even though I don't comment very often!! But felt I had to warn you about painted window frames!! X

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    1. Thanks for the warning :-)

      See my answer to Kev above.

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  9. Yes, the reality of mine is a bucket of logs on one side, a bucket of kindling on the other and logs stacked up beside the wood burner itself, drying out ready to go on. Oh, and there's a carrier bag full of old newspapers tucked down beside my sofa as well. They never look all "pretty" like Country Living mag!

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  10. Wood fires always look beautiful but like you say they are hard work too. Hubby grew up with one and refuses to have one now, bless him.

    X x

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  11. I hate things stuck on the fridge door, we have a fake wood burner in our sitting room, the glow looks nice in the evening, we don't use it to heat our room, the radiators work very well, glad you thought ahead to keep you warm this and every winter.

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  12. Im thinking that its the missing thingy on the fridge too, but it did take me a while to work it out. I think your need for heating is a strong as our need for cooling. Its going to be a long hot summer this year.

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  13. We are hoping to have a wood burner... one day !

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  14. Kev is right…..it happened to my pal next door……their wood was piled up against the burner last weekend, and it started to smoulder. Luckily J was sitting in the room and noticed, so caught it before the fire brigade had another job on their hands!!

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  15. Our logs are all stacked in the log store, I bring in enough for the day for the Rayburn and enough for the log burner, they are our only sources of heat for the house, I wouldnt go back to depending on gas and electric for heating and the cost of it now is unbelivable.
    Collecting logs is a year round job never ending. I too lay out the log burner in the morning ready for the evening, I get newspapers from a neighbour as we dont have any. I do find I am reading articles as I am making up the fire :-)

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  16. We too have had problems with wood stacked too close to the fire, even logs. When the wood burner is really hot, it is amazing how much heat transfers! We now make sure that there is a gap at all times between the burner and the wood. Wouldn't change it for the world though - so cosy xx

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  17. We have a wood burning range. We are able to cook on top as well. Our main source of wood is free from SIL who saves pellets for us but as someone else said its a round year task to try and have enough ready for winter.
    I also get some coal which I put in during winter when we are going out. Means we come back to a warm house.
    We have a covered area at the back door that I bring enough there for the day.

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  18. Our woodburner stove is definitely high up on the list of good purchases! We have a metal bin just outside the sitting room doors as our halfway house and the rest is just like yours - everything everywhere! Do you make coffee on the top of yours? We do and makes for the perfect afternoon when snowed in. Or rained in. Whichever comes first xx

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