Saturday, January 2, 2010

Staying Cozy Through a Cold Snap

Here in South Carolina, the winters are usually pretty mild. This winter, however, just over the past couple of days, it feels like we're in a "deep freeze." It's 24 degrees this evening! The weatherman says with the wind chill it feels like 15 degrees. It will drop to 18 degrees overnight. Sure hope this doesn't last long.

The week before Christmas, Mr. Sew Dear got a wild hair and decided that we were going to heat with wood. Off he went on a hunt, calling folks who had advertised on Craig's list and in the local pennysaver. He came home with a "Black Bart," an older wood stove that he inserted into the fireplace opening. It came with the original manual and instructions on how to build a sheet metal vent to attach to the top opening of the stove and angle it back to draft the smoke up the flue. He bent the sheet metal himself and screwed it all together, sealing it with furnace cement. Yes, it's nice to have such a handy man.

Over the holidays it was quite pleasant burning wood. The wood stove has removable doors and you can place a barrel type screen into the opening and enjoy the visual coziness of a fire burning. However, when Mr. Sew Dear returned to work after the holidays, it became my job to keep the home fires burning. The first couple of days I struggled, I swore, (yes, I did), and was pretty frustrated having to build the fire from scratch. I went through almost all of the kindling and 8 pieces of fat light, and by noon, the temperature in the house was still only about 66 degrees. Every evening the Dear one gleefully would get the temp up to 70, then 72, and at one point a balmy 76 degrees! When he came home that first night, I confessed to being a miserable failure as the keeper of the wood stove. Not only was I unable to get the temperature up, but it stubbornly smoked on me as well. I told myself it was because there was hardly a wind that day and the fireplace wasn't drafting well. Maybe...maybe not.

Since then we've been experimenting, tweaking, and adjusting, (doors open vs. doors closed; smaller spit wood vs. huge pieces, and etcetera). My sweetest sets the alarm clock for 2:30 a.m., gets up and feeds the wood stove so that I don't have to start building a new fire in the morning when he heads off to work. Yes, he's committed to this venture! Earlier this week I hated to head off to the grocery store, terrified that driving down my street on the way home I'd see my home, from the top of the hill, all ablaze, having to rescue my little doggies. Yes, it's a constant chore feeding Black Bart. With every passing day I become more and more manic-obsessive as I watch the temperature rise and fall. That first week I was loading up the wheel barrow at the wood shed at least 2 times a day, hauling wood into the house. It's a dirty job, and anyone who really knows me, knows I don't like being dirty. But mostly I'm afraid to get sidetracked doing something else, lest I totally forget about Black Bart, the fire goes out, and I have to invest half a day getting it started again! Can you tell I'm less than enthused about this method of heating? When I was growing up, my parents supplemented the heat in the house with a wood stove. My Mom told me that she wasn't very good at tending the fire either. Maybe it's genetic.

Are we saving money? I'd have to say I'm not convinced. But we'll have to see what the power bill looks like when the next one comes in. With this cold snap, I do know that the floors are so cold we've become worried about pipes freezing, so for now, we're leaving the faucets on a slow drip overnight. Sheesh, I thought I left all these kinds of worries behind when I moved from upstate New York to the sunny South!

'Til next time,


1 comment:

Prim's by Kim said...

Happy New Year Mary!! Wood heat is so warm, and a dry heat, be sure to put your pan of water out!! Hugs, Kim

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