Tuesday, January 17, 2006

soaking it up

After a long day (or night) of tomcatting outside, Whiter Biter enjoys a good fire. Any closer and we would be smelling burned cat fur.

My major accomplishment of the last couple of days (besides surviving chores) is becoming good at building a fire in the woodstove. Believe it or not, in over three winters here, I have hardly ever had to start a fire; usually that's the Hermit's job, and exactly how he does it has been a closely guarded secret. I have had some miserable attempts before; not enough kindling, not enough paper, too large of wood to start. My first couple of tries since The Hermit has been away were far from perfect, and very frustrating.

Like anything else, it takes practice, which you don't get if you refuse to set yourself up for possible failure. You gotta take a chance. When the incentive is warmth in the house (although I do have a Plan B, a propane heater), risk taking becomes essential. So this morning I hopped out of bed in the darkness and sat in front of the stove. It got down to 9 degrees F outside last night, and the fire probably went out about 2 or 3 AM, but it was still comfortably cool in the house; I don't like sleeping in a too-warm bedroom. But it was time to start a fire, so I placed a thick piece of kindling down, crumpled two sheets of newspaper over it, arranged about five sticks of thin kindling over that, lit a match, and held my breath. The paper ignited, blazed, died down a little, and...success. The kindling was burning nicely, in no danger of going out. I put in two larger sticks, and soon had a perfect fire going.

Shortly thereafter, Whiter Biter came indoors from a night out and about, and settled in his favorite place.


Floridacracker said...

We have an inefficient fireplace instead of a stove. It's mainly for cozy atmosphere than survival,but we try and use it alot when it's cold enough. Like the Hermit, I am the Firestarter, but I suspect my wife and kids praise my ability so I'll feel needed and they won't have to mess with it.

Trix said...

Oh, you can't imagine how I miss the daily task of making a fire in the woodstove! Rarely did I allow the Hubster to do it; it turned out to be a therapeutic ritual of sorts - one of comfort and thanks and just a peaceful moment. This post makes me feel all cozy.

Pamela Martin said...

What a pleasure it is when that first setup in the morning bursts into a sustainable fire. We've been heating almost exclusively with wood for two years--lots of work but so much more pleasant a heat than oil or electric.

Rexroth's Daughter said...

I love reading about your firebuilding success. It is a wonderful, warming accomplishment. We're thinking about adding a woodstove to our house, even though it has a fine functioning proprane heater.

BTW-- I loved your post on Monday about the "simple life" I tried to leave a comment, even wrote some long thing, but blogger was giving me such a hard time. It would not post, but it went something like this: I think you and your family are very brave and tough to take on the arduous life of homesteading. The pirate and I have done similar things when we were much younger; he for a much longer time than I. I wish for you long, hot leisurely baths. You have definitely earned them.

Deb said...

Hooray! My comment e-mail notification is working again!

I definitely like wood heat better than anything. And I'm finding that it is a nice ritual in the morning. Today it was zero degrees F at 5 am, and I had let the fire go out so it got down to 58 in the house (some parts were probably colder). The kids and I were all snuggled together under down comforters so we were warm, but I got out of bed and built a nice fire. It's a good incentive to get out of bed.

RD-yes, I'm looking forward to baths. I figure with all the water I've not used nor heated with fossil fuel over the last few years, I'm entitled to spend a lot of time soaking! I read when you were talking about your sauna the other day; that's another thing we'd like some day.