Baby, it's cold outside...

Around here, this week, we have been struggling with some bitterly cold weather. People in the southern areas of the United States are not prepared for temperatures to hit zero degrees and we have been no exception. For us, cold weather means keeping the wood stove running both day and night. And yes, it does mean getting up during the night to stoke the stove. But on the plus side, it also means warm lazy dogs sleeping by the fire, a cozy house, and a warm glow that will put you to sleep in mere seconds.

This year Secret Agent Man has been very busy working and traveling. So, he actually had to BUY wood, instead of cutting wood from our farm. This has hurt his manly feelings just a tad, as he always preps the wood pile for the winter. I find that it is a good idea to stop and pick up a small load of wood in your laundry basket, after you have hung some clothes out on the line.

Although it might seem very rustic that we use a wood stove in our house, it is nothing compared to how rough it was for my ancestors. I am able to put wood in the stove and let it burn, creating a warm house. But, for many early farmers a fire would not burn all night. All I have to say about the following book excerpt is, thank goodness for matches.

"We'd build the fire up in the fireplace and sit around that at night. We'd take the ashes up and rake hot coals and maybe a chunk of wood and cover it up with the ashes, called banking. The next morning, whoever got up first, would rake them out. He'd put some kindlin' in there and build up a fire. We didn't depend on matches then like we do now, so we'd have to keep the fire covered up. If your fire went out and you didn't have any coals to build the fire, you'd have to go down to the first neighbor and borrow some coals. You'd take a bucket or somethin' down there and get the bucket full of coals and bring them back to the house and get your fire started."
R.M. (Mack) Dickerson, Summer 1976
The Foxfire 40th Anniversary Book
Faith, Family, and the Land


  1. yep it was tough. We rekindled the coals a few times at the cabin we were in too. Depending on wood heat keeps you very aware of both the fires and the woodpile. I was amazed at how much we used up! If we had a wood stove here we could probably keep it fueled by scavenging after storms. I've sen a lot of downed trees just go to the dump. It seems so wasteful. My husband doesn't want anything to do with building fires. It would probably be something we'd argue about.
    The wood stoves really heat a house nicely though. I'd like an insert. We have gas logs, my husband thinks it's fabulous and I think it's pretty fake and expensive to just burn up gas. It's probably one of those things that'll never change.


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