Burning Firewood

I put another stick of firewood on the fire.

It’s a large awkward chunk with holes riddling it, part of an old carpenter ants’ nest. It came from the big cherry tree on the old fence line. It must be one of the oldest trees on the property with three big trunks and when one of them broke and fell it landed on the neighbors side. Cherry is about as good of wood as we have for burning at our place, so I quickly sent John over to negotiate. Our tree, his land, we will clean it up quick, thank you very much!firewood carved by ants

My brother happened to visit just about then so I put a chainsaw in his hand and he cut the limb into rounds while I heaved them over the old wire fence. Straight into all the kinds of prickles that grow in Wisconsin. It took another day with John running the chainsaw to finish clearing everything. And then, over the course of several months I smashed my wheelbarrow through the brush to a little clearing I had made. There I split the big rounds into firewood sized chunks. There I also learned it’s important not to catch brush on the top of your arc while splitting wood. Then I loaded them all up and brought them to the wood pile. That was the time that I learned that even if those ants are frozen solid, they thaw – alive…

My firewood piles near the house are dwindling. I need to move more from the big stacks a bit further away but I need a better system. The tractor would be ideal. Hopefully it’ll be fixed soon. Maybe a sled would work. I think there might be a half dozen hard to split pieces back by the fence. I must have given up on them when I hurt my shoulder last year. I should check. And I should learn to use a chainsaw so I don’t have to rely on the boys. Of course that gives me an excuse to spend a day working outside with John or my brother or my dad. Maybe I’ll stick with the splitting maul. Our chainsaw has issues anyway, I wonder what else we can try to fix it…

I put another stick of firewood on the fire and I wonder what people think about when they turn up the thermostat.



Mundane Monday: Fire

A few years ago evidence was found that humans have been using fire for a million years.

A million years.

A million years of warmth.

A million years of cooking.

A million years of fires…fire

… and those moving flames are still captivating.

You would think a million years of experience ought to turn something mundane. Or, more realistically, a winter’s worth of fires in the wood stove, but I still get stuck watching the flames. Thanks PhoTrablogger for hosting another Mundane Monday Challenge! 


Fire Bricks

Replacing the firebricks in the wood stove would have been a much less of a mystery had the replacements come in the proper size or with some sort of helpful hints.

fire bricks

This is my “mystery” picture for photo10 but I’d like it to be clear that I actually found these bricks to be confounding, dirty bastards rather than interesting and mysterious items.


Receiving nothing but a cryptic “map”, with what were eventually determined to be incorrectly sized bricks, the project turned into an entire evening full of…. entertainment.

My Apologies

It was bright, sunny and unseasonably warm when I discovered that we needed to replace our wood stove.

The weather was already cooler the next day as we swapped it for the old one we had in reserve.stove pipe

At this time of year, on a bright sunny day, we can heat the house using the greenhouse. But, when we held pieces of stove pipe up above our heads and tried in vain to fit them together like giant, dirty legos, the sun went away.

Today, as I stare at our defunct stove and we wait for the parts and pieces that we need, it’s cloudy and cold.wood stove

Old Murphy and his law have struck again. Our main heat source goes and just like that, snow in the forecast tonight and our first real freeze tomorrow night.

My apologies, I didn’t mean to ruin the nice weather!



Dear Roundys

Dear Roundys,

As a generic brand you are good, but you are still a generic brand, jack of all trades, master at none but the low price.

I have no problem with that.  You fill your niche in the market place well and many of your items have graced our shelves. But recently an item of yours has come into my home that I have a real issue with. It is a box of kitchen matches.

It’s not that I mind that every seventh match breaks in half. And I can deal with the fact that the striker on the side of the box wore out at an alarming rate, forcing me to use the bits on the corners in short quick bursts. No, it’s the coloring of the packaging that I have an issue with.

This box of kitchen matches looks very similar from the top, and from the bottom.

Why is this an issue you ask? We heat our house with wood.  Therefore, every morning this winter found me crouched in front of the wood stove rekindling the fire. Chilly, bleary eyed, attempting to function before my morning tea at an admittedly sub par level I would lay my fire, reach for the matches, slide open the box and – matches all over the floor. You see when the top looks frighteningly similar to the bottom, it’s very easy to open upside down. And when you open that box upside down, the nice sliding “drawer” turns into a nice sliding “dump.” And the quick lighting of the fire turns into pick up sticks – again.

It has occurred to me that the reason my matches had such a high breakage rate was due to their rough handling. This I believe to be good news as with a bit of color change in your printing both problems will be resolved.

Other than the issues above, your matches preformed beautiful and I would be happy to purchase them again, after the box receives the much needed overhaul.

Thank you for your time and your consideration of this serious problem,

A Freezing and Frustrated Fire-starter