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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Break In Time

Amazing how the weather is cooperating to break in our new wood stove. The owner's manual says that we need to build a 200 degree fire and burn it at that temperature for one hour and then let it cool down. Then go to 300 degrees and then 400 degrees and after that we can burn it hot.

Summer is obviously winding down now and we are getting cooler days which makes breaking in the cast iron appropriate at this time of year. We finished stage two break-in yesterday and are ready for stage three. It won't be long now before we can expect snow, and our 8-9 month long winter. We burn our wood stove from September until May so that is a long time and a lot of fire wood. We spend our short summers cutting, splitting by hand, stacking somewhere between 9-11 cords of firewood. A cord is 4'wide, 4' high and 8' long. That constitutes a lot of firewood. We are anxious to see if we burn less with the new stove or not. We have an extra cord un-split just in case its needed. Our last stove was 18 years old and pretty well worn out - even though it was still working well. We just didn't want to take a chance with its continued use and it costs almost as much to refurbish it as purchase a new one.

The new stove has two air control levers on the front to control the firebox temperature. The house itself has a window to control the inside temperature of our home. If it gets hot inside you open a window and let some of the heat out and cooler air in. When it feels comfortable you close the window again. Pretty nifty thermostat if you ask me. Not much to malfunction there and it works consistently well. We can usually tell when it is getting to cold inside as the dogs will all be sleeping next to the wood stove. Time to crank up the heat a little which is why it needs to be properly cured now.

It seems like we just put our snow shovels away and now must get them back out. We average 264" or 22 feet of snow a winter. Since we only got about 164 inches last year that could mean we will get 364' of snow this year to meet our average. That is over 30 feet of snow so I'm not looking forward to that, but we are ready in case it is a hard winter. Every year except two or three times since we have lived here we have gotten at least one hard snow a year that would accumulate to 4-5 feet in a single storm. On days like that when the snow just keeps coming down, the wood stove is a vital asset. When we get 5 feet of snow at one time we will be busy shoveling for several days and often are stranded for several days.

So it is important that we break in that wood stove properly and soon. You just never know this time of year when we will need to rely on it. Did I mention we actually love it here and the snow is just part of living at 9,750'. We have been known to get snow in early July but that is rare. Also we can get snow as early as September but that too is rare. So as we make final preparations for winter we realize that time is marching on and each day we are closer to winter. They have already had a snow storm in the northern part of the State. With the unusual weather we have been having nationwide it does not pay to procrastinate.

So as we make final preparations for that dreaded winter, we can rely on one thing - it will be here soon enough.

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