Wood You Believe It!

As we have mentioned before Ian is very  proud of the wood burning stove we have in our living room, both because he installed it and because it provides us with free heating and cooking potential!

When we say free, we do amazingly mean free, we have not bought a single log for our fire in all the time that we have had it. Whether the wood has been scavenged from skips (of course with the owner’s permission), fallen branches, ripped out of our house during the renovations or donated by Grandpas Gray or Pugh we have managed to power our little stove for absolutely no cost.

This last winter, however, has been a bit of shock to Ian, having a little person to look after he has actually had to put the heating on (low) every night to make sure her little room was warm enough, he has made sure that every other non-essential (basically every one that is not in a bedroom) is switched off. We have a radiator in our kitchen that was put on to test when we first moved in but has not been on since, the theory being that if you are in the kitchen long enough to get cold you must be cooking and therefore will be warmed up that way! The only silver lining to having to pay for heating has been that our bedroom has also been more toasty than normal, we decided that if we are firing up the boiler for one radiator an extra one will not make that much difference!

When we say we have heated the house over the last few years for no cost, we have of course bought firelighters (although even these we have managed to cut back on) and there was once a time when Ian purchased 3 bags of coal for the princely sum of £20. A couple of coal bag donations from Grandad Gray included we have perhaps had six bags of coal in the last three years, but more of that in a second…….

Very depleted indeed!

Very depleted indeed!

Knowing that Becksie would be home during the day and that with Lizzie about the house would need be nice and toasty for more hours  of the day, in the autumn Ian went to great lengths to collect up and chop as much wood as possible, his wood shed bursting to the seams  with wood ready to burn. Top up donations and collections of wood have kept the shed ticking over nicely, but we are breathing a sigh of relief that we are getting into the (hopefully) warmer weather as the wood shed is looking very depleted indeed!

Back to the coal; Becksie made a rare foray into Ian’s shed the other day, and there amongst the ‘useful items’ were three and a half large green bags…..

wood 2

“What’s in those bags Ian? “

“Erm……. Coal”

“I thought we didn’t have any coal”

“Well we do have some but we don’t want to use it all at once”

“How long have we had that?”

“A couple of years”

It just goes to show that you can perhaps be too frugal!! Wood is now a more valuable commodity in our shed than coal, definitely time to get stockpiling wood for next winter, who knows perhaps Ian might even let us burn a bit of coal to go with it!


22 thoughts on “Wood You Believe It!

  1. Hi I never use fire lighters! We have more or less free wood for ages. A local pine manufacturers always has tons of leftover bits which I collect every day in the week and keeps me warm during these cold extended winter days! The small thin bits are used for kindling and the bigger chunks on next. With a stash of newspaper from wherever you can get it no need for lighters! Not sure if you are close to Warminster but there is bound to be something similar somewhere close by. I also get chunks of oak from a green oak frame producer which is cheap. A tonne bag fori£30 as the downside of pine is being soft ut burns fast but gives out loads of heat. Oak burns slowly and keeps it in for longer. 🙂

  2. When we had a coal fire when I was young we made firefighters out of newspapers. Open out a sheet of paper, fold diagonally so you have a sort of triangle. Then starting from long diagonal fold over towards opposite point about 3-4 cms. Fold over and over till you have a long piece, flatten it find the middle and fold so you make an L shape.the half at the bottom is then folded back over the other,then the lower one over the other till you are left with small ends, tuck one into the folds as tight as you can.the other is the bit you light.You should have a concertina type thing with one short end.Several of these under sticks will burn long enough to get the fire going. As a child I used to love sitting making these and they really are easy(despite my awful explanation) and quick, and they will use up the newspapers. Lets hope you don’t have to have the wood burner on much longer, it has been nice to see the sun today!

  3. Although we get some free wood and I rarely come back from a dog walk without a handful of twigs, much to the amusement of our friends, we have had to buy wood this year and we’ve noticed it is getting much more expensive, perhaps because woodstoves are becoming more popular?
    However, we’ve used comparatively little oil- less than half of what friends in the village have used and because one of our stoves is a (refurbished) solid fuel Rayburn we have used less electricity for cooking and even ironing, because I bought 2 old flat irons and use them 🙂 This was one of the things I did that made husband think I’d lost the plot, but actually, they iron beautifully! Better, than our steam iron…

  4. Gosh its amazing how we can find ways to budget if we need too! I love the ingenuity too. We don’t have central heating either, but sadly no woodburner either but we hope we will in the next house (this one is just so near Natasha’s secondary school we’ll stay here until she leaves in 2 yrs time. I love the idea of ironing with a flat iron, and saving money on heating a modern iron too. I’m just about to have some old saucepans re-tinned inside so I can use them. I’ve been using an old copper set I got on ebay 18 months now and wanted to expand my collection. We did try to find out how to retin them ourselves, it seems easy when we saw it in france but I can’t find any food grade tin to do it with. Any ideas would be welcome.

  5. Just wondering – have you had your chimney lined, or did you just put a bit of pipe up the chimney when you installed the burner? I want to do the same, but the cost of everything is horrendous. RE cost of wood, I think it has more to do with transport costs. I use wood for firing a pottery kiln, and it has become almost too much to make ends meet, sadly (haven’t fired for a couple of years – just building a new kiln in the hope that I can just sell the pots more expensively.)

    On another note, I recall somewhere you were going to tell us what you did about milk and dairy? Finding dairy in east anglia, that is independent, is proving very difficult (even the farm shops only stock from the big players.)

    • Hiya, we didn’t line our chimney as our cottage is c.150 years old and the walls are thick, the house is not that high either so it didn’t seem necessary, we just have a 1m flue pipe from the back of the stove. That said we make sure we sweep it regularly to keep it safe. When were looking at it we found you could buy the flue liners on ebay quite cheaply. We are still working on our milk solution and have a guest blog coming up on that very subject! Thank you for reading!

  6. We have a wood fire burner in the hallway which we keep going during the winter. The heat rises and keeps the bedrooms warm,provided I remember to leave the doors open! The washing dries on the stair banisters above,and, although not at the same time as the washing is there because of the aromas,I often cook our meals especially one pot stews ,using cheaper cuts of meat.A pan of potato or veg cooks surprisingly quickly.Useful during power cuts and times of austerity. I wondered what to do with all those partly burned candles so today I will try making firefighters following your recipe.I love to read your entries and do carry on the good work, you are really inspirational.

  7. My mum gets wood from the local farmer. When they are clearing orchards they can have the wood for free as long as they go and chop it themselves and take it away in a given timeframe. Apparently it’s back breaking work but surely the exercise and it being free out weigh the effort!

  8. Hahahaha! A couple of years!?! That’s funny! Though there are few things in life more wonderful that the warmth from a proper fire.

    Kate x

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