Natural gas is an unknown commodity around here. Consequently, most farmhouses are heated with propane gas. Propane gas might be described as The New Black Gold. Prices are through the roof. Add to that the farmhouse is cavernous and drafty. Keeping it warm is akin to warming a barn. My heating bills were through the roof.
Permaculture Guru Ben Falk, in his elucidating and mesmerizing YouTube videos, raves about the wood stove that heats his farmhouse. Being a permaculture farmer, you not only need to have good ideas; you need to be on the lookout for the good ideas of others.
There’s a wood stove dealer not too far from here. “Checking them out won’t cost us anything,” I told The Team. The salesman claimed a wood stove would heat 2,000 square feet and cut my heating bill dramatically. I was sorely tempted but not yet sold.
Once your consciousness is raised to something, it seems to crop up everywhere. All of a sudden, I noticed that all my Amish neighbors have wood stoves. I even detected one in the corner of Ben Falk’s greenhouse. I took these as signs. Providence ordained that we should have a wood stove.
I returned to the wood stove dealer. The salesman upped his game with the bold claim that it would pay for itself in one season. I reached for the check book then waited impatiently for delivery day.
Of course, as with anything new, there were at first the odd hiccups. There’s a trick to lighting them. But even after I learned everything you’ve ever wanted to know about kindling, the wood stove was not all it was cracked up to be. “2,000 square feet? You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said to myself rolling my eyes to the ceiling. It was then it struck me. The ceiling was ten feet high. Heat rises. The heat was there, but it was floating four feet above our heads.
I rushed where I always rush when facing conundrums – to YouTube. The fix was quick. I simply had to get my hands on a heat powered wood stove fan which they are practically giving away on Amazon. You simply set it on top of the wood burning stove and like magic, it begins to spin circulating the heat. Add to that, it seems to make the wood stove come alive – something along the order of BB8 or R2D2.
But there was still one more thing I did not count on. Wood stoves need wood. Lots of it. And it has to be hard and dry. Fortunately, there is an inexhaustible supply of hard and dry wood on the farm in the form of small elm trees that died standing. All we had to do was cut it, split it, and stack it. It was a perfect undertaking for….The Team.
I cut 16 inch logs with the chainsaw, threw it in the tractor bucket and drove it to Avi and May, who were manning the splitter. Before becoming a permaculture farmer, I can’t say I gave much thought to splitters. Now I would say they are a girl’s best friend, with the possible exception of wood stoves. The only issue is finding the right size. Before purchasing my own, I borrowed one from a neighbor. It was a dirty, smelly, gas guzzling behemoth. We settled on a portable electric one half its size, appropriately named the SUPERHANDY.
All you do is set a log on it and guide the blade. It’s a hot knife through butter. Splitting logs is one of the fun jobs around here. And when you split them again and again they become kindling. So the girls split; Herry stacks, and Adam handles all matters pertaining to kindling. But here’s the real take away from the wood stove…. (To be continued)