We've been really lucky this winter because so far it hasn't been too cold. That's changing now though - this week it was 2 overnight. And no, I didn't miss a digit on that - it was 2 degrees.
Since we are still in the process of restoring our bucolic manor home, it still has the original insulation and an ancient heating system. They both work equally well - on other words, they don't do much to keep out the cold. One thing we do is close down most of the house so we only have to heat what is absolutely necessary. But the rest of the place needs to at least be kept above freezing.
We do have a lot of trees here. And some of them were downed during a summer storm a few years ago. So we chopped them up into logs and let them "season" (dry out). Now we have firewood!
Let me tell you, nothing beats a warm fire on a cold winter's night. So for the next few weeks, we'll be heating the old fashioned way with wood stoves.
We start with a cleaned out stove.
Then add crumpled newspaper.
A layer of ripped up cardboard.
Some kindling - twigs and small branches and small bits of the logs that were pruned from the gardens.
And finally some split logs from our trees.
Close up the grate.
Light the newspaper layer.
Make sure it's going.
And close up the stove, just leaving the bottom cracked open for a good draught.
In about 5 minutes, the fire gets going and the cast iron wood stove heats up providing warmth that will last all night long.
We save the ashes and will use them instead of salt on the icy walkways this winter then whatever is left over we will take and work back into the soil in the gardens this spring.
Believe me when I tell you it is backbreaking labor to heat a house with wood. If you have oil or electric central heating, take a moment and rejoice!
When we lived in Manhattan we had no control over the temperature in our apartment. It isn't unusual to see windows open on the coldest bitter February days down in the city - some of the buildings are just that hot.
Up in the country, though, every window and door is shut tight, every gap filled in and layers of clothing go on before the fire is lit. Heat is something we appreciate during the winter. And we really appreciate those trees that came down and are keeping us warm this winter!
Wood stoves - they're a beautiful thing!