Wild Moon Cottage is a small working homestead in the pristine Ozark Mountains. We have dairy goats, poultry, organic herb and vegetable gardens, a start of a tiny fruit orchard, several black walnut trees, wild berries and fields of wildcrafting goodness. We raise our own milk, our own eggs, much of our own medicine and food. I do laundry by hand, make my own vinegar, candles, soap, bread, cheese ........ For a living I am an artist and herbalist. My goal for myself and our homestead is to be as self sufficient and self sustaining as possible.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Firewood & Life 6.7.10

Stacked wood needing to be cut down for splitting

It might seem like an odd time to be talking about firewood but it's really the best time. Before you need it. Several people have asked about our woodstove, earthberm and how we do winter.

We've been here now for 9 winters and our only heat source is a tiny woodstove, which I also cook on, use for drying and have successfully canned on.

I'm not in my ideal spot but our little earthberm home and tiny woodstove are my ideals to be sure :) When we first moved here it was in late fall. Nik was 7 and I didn't have much more than our basic belongings. My then husband had left and I had lost my job all in a row. I thought we would freeze to death the first winter, I had grown up with fireplace and woodstove at my grandparents and their big house was always very cold in winter. So Nik and I went into the forest (our back yard) and drug up some limbs and branches and I ran us completely out of the house with the first fire !

I was able to buy a cord of wood a few months later but it was almost all to large for our stove. With a small dull hatchet and a kindling finding hero, we figured it out, made do and stayed warm.

A cord, by the way, is 4ft x 4ft x 8ft.
Our tiny beloved woodstove

The stove is actually about 21 inches square but take 14 inch logs. I can wedge in up to 18 inches if they're not to thick and if I have a good fire going.

We're in the Missouri Ozarks, elevation between 2,500 and 3,000 feet. It can get bloody cold here, in the single digits and ice storms that can last for days. So far the coldest it has ever been inside with no fire was 44 deg. and that was during an ice storm. It generally stays in the mid 50's to low 60's inside but that can feel colder in the winter. The Burrow is block on the 3 earth walls, wood in front which faces south. The whole house is just over 800 square feet.

The first year i would bank up the coals and wake up in the middle of the night to put another log on but not anymore. I generally only have a fire if it get's down in the low 30's or stays below 40 for more than a few days. If it gets to cold for to long and the ground freezes down then I keep the fire going longer but otherwise I build a fire on the cold mornings and keep it going till the house warms well then let it go out. In 20 to 30 deg weather that usually means I keep the fire going about 6 hours a day.

The Burrow in June

I did buy an electric heater for the bathroom but it's just a luxury, we lived without one for years.

I've only had to buy firewood a few times over the years, mainly when we had no way to haul it ourselves. Otherwise, we get firewood for free each summer from downed trees in town that people want hauled away. Freecycle is a wonderful source for free firewood.

Posts for Juju Totems

I used to make us carefully stack all the wood but there's so much to be done that it would often get put off way to long. Now we stack the very large piece that have to be cut down before splitting but we just pile the rest of it. We make 5 main piles or stacks .... wood to be cut down, wood to be split, split wood, kindling to be cut down & ready kindling. I also have a some posts to make giant Juju dolls with.

I loath chainsaws (or any other very loud and overly dangerous kind of thing ) so we mostly use hand saws. I do have and use a chainsaw when I have to tho.

Cut wood wating to be split

I'm still in the process of trying to build a sawbuck, which will make cutting, with a hand saw or a chainsaw, much easier. I'm also going to get a good cross cut saw and I'm hoping to get a 2 person crosscut as well.

Nik does all the splitting now, which I'm so very grateful for! But eventually I'll have to split it again myself. I try to keep that in mind for everything and try to work toward the day he'll go on his own way and I'll be doing everything alone again.

Split wood, ready for the stove

There are no burners on our woodstove at all, it's just for heating, but I've learned cook many things on and in it, including bread. You can't really ruin anything unless you burn it to a crisp and as long as you keep an eye in it and check it often you can adjust and make sure that doesn't happen. I'll leave the wood heat stove cooking for another time tho :)

Ye Old Chopping Block



the wild magnolia said...

Very, very, interesting post!

When I was a little girl my Aunt Martha Jane had a wood burning cook stove and a fire place in her bedroom. That was her only heat. She lived in the Ocala National Forest in Florida. Winter's then were at the low thirty degrees. Even then it was not for many days.

I like your little home and way of living.

Happy Day.

CompostPyle said...

I love a good wood pile story w/pic's anytime of the year. We been working on ours cleaning up big woodpiles and stacking it up.

I love your earthberm, why is it not your ideal spot? Just being nosey, Your in my favorite places in the world.

We traded homes w/ dd a couple of months ago. We built a 4000 sq ft earthhome and burned wood, boy did we burn wood to heat but also had propane.

DD and her family lived in this trailer in the woods and we traded. We now live in an old vintage trailer w/ woodstove that will run you out. I'm lookin forward to a snowy winter.

We really scaled down and lovin it. The trend is toward small homes. Perfect for us empty nesters. We do plan on building a small cabin in a couple of yrs.

My work brings me into clients homes that are huge , major huge but when it gets right down to it, all one needs is a place to be warm, sleep and cook food. Ok a bathroom in the house is nice to have too. You really don't need much room to have the good life.

I too think that one of us, dh and I when one will be left alone on down the road. I think if its me (hubby can fend for himself) I want to be able to do things myself here in our woods. I keep thinkin if Tasha Tudor can do it so can I.

You got a good son and you'll miss him much. Hope time goes slow for ya before he takes out on his own path.

Keep the wood stack growing

Juli said...

It's not ideal for 3 reasons only ...

It's not our and now looks like it will never be.

I can see our neighbors, they're good people but I don't want to see or be seen.

And finally, my ideal place would have a little more land. We only have about 1/4 of an acre.

Even so, I do love it, the tiny house and stove most of all :)

CompostPyle said...

Thats the main thing that you love it even if not ideal. I know what you mean about not being seen or see neighbors. We had that over at our other homestead. We had 20 acres but could see neighbors across the road, here its only eight acres and can only see trees, there is a road but can't see no houses only cows in the pasture and only one light far off when theres no leaves on the trees. The trailer is not ideal but we still love it.

We all work to make things better. Your in a location that opportunities can come along anytime for more land.

Do you have bear coming up for a visit? I'm so on the outlook for bear here, would love to see one, been confronted by cougar a couple of times, I froze like a popcycle :/

Enjoying your blog papes

CompostPyle said...

I forgot to add that you do more on your 1/4 acres then most do on much land. I see it here, people with land and they don't even put out gardens. Fast food is their way. Such a waste

tc linda

Evelyn said...

I'm curious, why did you have more fires at first & not now? Did you build the hill around the house? Or insulate the house? Or, start wearing coats in the house?
The house on Our Farm has big windows & the cold comes in. We have a wood stove & propane. But, we try not to use the propane. I solve the issue by going to California, but I'm hoping for a time that I won't have to do that. I want to stay on the farm; but I do like having options to leave. :)

Juli said...

I never expected the house to hold the heat as well, or for as long, as it did so I kept the fire going all the time it was cold out that first year. I had heard great things about earthberms but had never lived in one before.

JoyceAnn said...

Hi Julie ~ You and Nik have been very busy , it feels good when you have wood stacked and ready for the next winter. We've been slack , but will be busy this Fall doing the same.
Love seeing the pic of the burrow , looks peaceful.
Thanks for posting the goat feed mixture you use , Dh and I mixed up a batch a few weeks ago. At first the goats didn't care for the oats , they tried to eat around them (LOL), but now they're enjoying the mixture.

~ Happy Herbal Blessings ~