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Posts Tagged ‘wood burning stoves’

March 1, 2013 –

My dining room is cluttered, but shaping up:

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I recently got my copper molds hung and my shelves newly cleaned and arranged (though this corner definitely needs a light, and it is difficult to see what is arranged. The file box belongs elsewhere, but is necessary to some of my daily projects just now. Finally, the cabinets cluttering the foreground are washed, inspected, and ready to go to the attic, to my slowly-developing craft area. (I need Will’s help to move them. Things are generally cheerful, if very cluttered, and I feel that definite progress has been made.

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This shelf is made from a piano top, and bears the makers inscription in gold lettering on the underside. (Will’s mother is a piano technician, and he grew up seeing and thinking of all kinds of uses for piano parts. Lead key weights make excellent sling-shot missiles, for instance.)

Well, the place looks like our lives – too full, but creative and well-loved.

October 15, 2013 –

Will and I finally got in agreement on how and where to install a main heating stove in the upstairs. This stove is the Gatling 45, or Colorado 45, model which we had had for a time in the basement in our previous house.

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We had considered the idea of putting this in the living room, and running the pipe through the attic nook…but ultimately decided that it would serve more and better purposes in the dining room. So I moved my desk and display shelf into the living room, and made way for the stove.

K-10 the German Shepherd enjoys the radiant warmth, as does everyone else who lives here. This stove is a good, efficient model, which will burn a variety of woods, in scrap lumber or logs, well and warmly. It has enough of a platform on top to be able to cook things, and we frequently use it instead of the official cookstove in the kitchen. Making coffee, cooking roasts, and even baking fry-pan biscuits is pleasant on this stove.

Breakfast can now be taken in usually comfortable temperatures, and formal school times are much nicer, too.

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Will gave me one of the nicest surprises just now. He is a wonderful scavenger, and when on a construction or handyman job, has a good eye for noticing what is stored in other people’s Quonsets and barns. At a recent job, he noticed a small, Swedish-style wood heating stove, new in the box. He bartered for it (he loves bartering). He installed it while I was gone, and when I came home, we had a cozy bedroom for the first time ever.

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(My apologies on the drowsy lighting of the photo.) It is a Vogelzang brand…not particularly high quality, but serviceable. It is a sweet-feeling little stove (you can see by the size of the bricks and fire shovel that it is not very tall), and, like most wood stoves, has a temperament and personality. In spite of the appearance that one can effectively cook and or heat a pot or kettle on top, most of the heat radiates out the sides. (This picture was taken some months after installing the stove, and you can see where the sometimes extreme heat has faded the paint.) This stove takes a bit more babying on the draft creation, during ignition, than some do, and doesn’t burn heavy logs particularly well…but is a steady little workhorse, all the same. It tends to be a heavy feeder, and the fact that it does not shut down air intake as completely as many stoves do, can be a drawback when burning lumber with much sap (southern yellow pine makes an inferno). The slide on the front is the main air-intake, and if one needs to limit it further than the closed slide allows, a coin (quarter) or similar object can be placed over the hole on top of the slide. The cleaning process is easy, though it can be messy removing the firebricks lining the bottom of the burning chamber. (The bricks that are beneath the stove on the floor have since been removed, as they turned out to be unnecessary – not much heat goes out the bottom, even with a moderate load of wood.)

We burn mostly elm and pine scrap lumber here, and this means that the fire may need coaxing and feeding three or more times a night, as elm doesn’t burn well above a smolder on its own, and other available woods tend to disappear rather quickly. But this is doable.

All in all, I am happy with my beautiful little Christmas present, and am comforted by the fact that I can have a quiet – and warm – place in mid-winter to play my violin.

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Well, it took three guys to get the Dixie V cookstove up the entryway stairs and into the house…but we did it. Yes, being primarily cast iron, it’s that heavy…not simply awkward. Here it is:

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I’m not sure we need them, but we put bricks beneath the stove anyway, as a heat shield. We still need some kind of a heat shield in back of it, but that’s easily arranged (sheet metal). Will just finished putting in the stove pipe, so his tools are still about. It is wonderful to have some drier air in which to dry laundry, as well as the stove itself making cooking so much easier. It takes a special technique to cook anything on a barrel stove, without modifications and a good welder.

The large, double-oven stove next to the cookstove is no longer safe to use, as mice have been at it for the past 20 years. Alas – it was an especially nice stove in its day.

Well, I can look forward to baking again!

Update, June 2015: It turned out that we didn’t need the bricks underneath – that they were simply a nuisance and extra weight. Also, even without them, the floor started to sag, so we bolstered it with a metal pipe downstairs (basement). You can partially see it here:

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There are good boards at the top, to keep it from punching through the ceiling, and help distribute the weight. Eventually, this ceiling needs something else done with it, anyway.

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For the last two years, Will has given me a lump of coal for Christmas. You know what that means, right? Every naughty little girl or boy is supposed to find a lump of coal, or a switch, in his or her stocking come Christmas morning.

I am sure Will thinks I deserve another lump of coal this year.

Of course, there have been the other gifts – kitchen items (which I wanted and needed), clothes and jewelry (he has good taste, usually), special foods, good times…

But I appreciate the coal with a simple gratefulness. It feeds a hungry cookstove, and allows me to care for my family’s needs. It provides the beauty of fire, which our souls grow fat on. It means a warm home and warm fellowship.

And the fact that my husband wants to tease and take care of me this way says, I may have been my average self this year…but he’s been great!

Thank God for the coal in my stocking.

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Peppers, from seed to salsa.

 

 

 

Squashes, from vine to custard.

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Milk, from goat to glass.

Goats - Morgana, Lancelot - 2008I love to handle most of our food as thoroughly as possible.

Still, there are times I can’t. I am forced into bartering for something that did poorly in my own garden, or I find myself in a zone or situation that makes it impossible to grow or raise what I want.

What do I do? I know that my family’s health depends in part on the attitudes with which our food has been handled.

So I redeem the time. I use what I’ve learned about attitudes to give our food the best chance to be profitable for us.

I’ve taken at times three different steps to ensure our food is healthful and appropriate. Some of these steps can be taken at the place of purchase, and if you don’t like the results, you can choose to buy something else, saving you and your family time and trouble.

 

Step One

First, if possible, I take stock of how the food, whether beef or barley, has been handled already. Who grew the grain? How was the calf raised? Did the owner of the chickens enjoy caring for her layers, and give them smiles as well as feed?

If I don’t know, I don’t worry about it. I just lay my hands on the item in question, and pronounce it reserved for my Creator’s use, and used to His honor. Sometimes, strange as this sounds, I can ask the item how it was handled or raised, and know in my spirit its true condition. I especially do this with produce that looks too good to be true – I’ve opened way too many lovely apples, only to discover they have mushy cores, are tasteless, or obviously were overdosed on pesticides (organic doesn’t happen around here unless I grow it myself).

 

Step Two

Next, I make sure the item is properly packaged, which seems to make it feel welcome and useful (more on this in a future post). I find this step is important, as something that has not been treated with sufficient regard wilts and decays, or stagnates, just like a human spirit. It also attracts filth. Therefore, if it is a grain, I put it in a convenient, bug-proof container, and make sure to label it clearly. When Will and I butcher, I undertake to label the packages accurately, and wrap them securely in paper and plastic, where they won’t get freezer burn and won’t leak, should they experience an untimely thaw. Labeling accurately can be a big deal, just like getting somebody’s name right that you’re trying to get to know.

Normally, the longer you can keep a food in your home before using it, the more likely it is to adapt to your needs, both spiritual and physical, and benefit you. That is one of the many reasons I buy “raw” foods in bulk, and have made special efforts to arrange suitable storage areas in the house.

 

Step Three

Handle the food, and even tell it what it is for. Tell it what results you expect from it – what it is to do for your health, how it is to act in your recipe, how it is to improve or maintain the attitudes of those who eat it. Be specific. “You’re to make the children good,” isn’t half so instructive as, “Cabbage, you are to bring beautiful color to my table, provide our bodies with pure and abundant nutrients, and cause us to act humbly and in one accord, because we agree you radiate joy and unity.”

See the difference?

With practice, you might be able to tell what sort of handling your food has had already, and know exactly what you need to tell it.

Next, get proficient at really handling food. It is faster for me to chop most things with an Alaskan knife, than to wash up a food processor. If you are truly pressed for time, decide beforehand which parts of the process are best done by hand – think about which steps to getting the meal on the table will allow you to put maximum emotion into the food. Depending on what the food has already been through, sometimes it doesn’t take much.

Other times, it’s almost impossible to undo the damage caused by someone else’s carelessness or ignorance. (More about this in future.)

 

Some specific steps that I often do by hand are:

Chopping of vegetables and fruits

Mixing of breads and batters

Kneading (whether by knife or by hand)

Grinding of grains

 

Other Tips

I take care to soak and sometimes malt grains (more nutrition), and I make many of our dairy products.

I avoid use of microwaves (I haven’t used one in over eight years), because they destroy nutrients and harm the molecular structures of foods.

Frequently, Will and I work together in the kitchen, or I make things with the children. Many hands make light work, and many smiles make things taste better.

Lastly, if you really want to improve the quality of your food, forget your conventional stove and cook over a real, lit-with-a-match fire. I have never yet come across a scientific explanation, but just ask any old-timer whose family used  a cookstove, and they’ll tell you the food tastes and digests better. My cookstove isn’t for sale.

Cookstove pink-and-purple flames coal

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We got a lucky break last September. Actually, I don’t believe in luck, so let’s call it our Creator’s interest in us.

An acquaintance offered us a great stack of firewood for cheap – cheaper than we could have cut it ourselves, accounting for time.

The man we bought our German Shepherd stud dog from had a micro-burst go through his yard, and it knocked down several old elms. He cut and stacked the wood, and all we had to do was to come pick it up within a given length of time.

We arrived, and there was much more than we could fit on one trailer:

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We had to leave almost half the pile there for somebody else. Still, it was a great start to stocking up for the year, and everybody got into the act.

 

Tyger helping to stack the wood on the trailer.

Tyger helping to stack the wood on the trailer.

Firewood is such a big part of the way we live, that I find it difficult to tell how much of a blessing this was. We have two wood stoves in the house, and they provide virtually all our heat. Besides this, we were swamped with construction jobs toward the end of September, and the Creator knew we could not take a lot of time to gather wood. We had been using our cookstove off and on for a week already.

We managed to get about half of the trailer load stacked, clean and dry, in the wood room downstairs.

) )

It is a bit messy – but then, it’s not a parlor. The beams are necessary to stabilize the flood-damaged walls. (That’s why it’s not a parlor. 🙂 )

By the 23rd of October, we were glad to have done this, as (one of my favorite things!)… we had a blizzard:

 

 

 

 

 

Hardly enough to go sleighing...but it was beautiful.

Hardly enough snow to go sleighing…but it was beautiful.

By the next afternoon, it was nothing but mud and memories. Still, we’re ready for the next one.

P.S. – We had ice on the insides of the windows yesterday morning…even the one near the kitchen stove pipe. Jack Frost in residence makes me feel ready for Thanksgiving…and at long last – Christmas! If I didn’t have so many crafts going already, I’d find some wrapping paper and make some new snowflakes for my windows. Oh well – Jack Frost will have to decorate by himself for a few days.

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