The Wood Stove

The farmhouse at Briarmoore is a venerable structure with original wood floors and mostly original doors.   Heat for the home comes from propane and a wood stove central to the house. John and I want to try to primarily use the stove because A: Wood is very affordable and B: Wouldn’t it be cool to just use a wood stove? Cool? Yes, downright COLD. Especially this winter when it is the coldest since the early 90s here in Virginia. We have been determined to make it work. With Nicolaus’ help, John loaded up a trailer with wood (Locust, oak, and poplar varieties), brought it home, split it into various sized logs appropriate for burning and stacked it all neatly under the covered front porch for both easy access and protection from the elements.

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The first several days John tended to the fire. I poked at it here and there, even threw on an extra log or two. But then John had to go to work and it was left to me to keep the fire going, to keep my family warm. Not as easy as I thought. In the morning you have to get it going really well–luckily we have lots of newspaper from unpacking. Once the fire has burned hot and steady for a bit, you should have a stove full of coals. You need to spread those out to get a good bed of coals and add new wood to burn on top. Rotate the “new” wood every so often to keep the coals hot so the fire will be prepped to add several logs before bed time. Sounds like I have the process all figured out, doesn’t it? Well, then things happen–the logs are wet, you get preoccupied with cooking, unpacking, or playing with your kids and forget to tend to the fire; you let it burn too hot by adding too much paper or small pieces of wood and the coals burn fast then out; you become so exhausted by everything you just cannot imagine messing with  the fire any more. The latter is where I found myself one afternoon this week–looking at the inside of the wood stove and poking at it a bit while the kids napped upstairs. And I started thinking this whole wood stove process is a lot like life. As soon as you think you have things figured out, life has a tendency to get in the way of itself. Things happen beyond our control causing us to burn too hot, smolder for a while and even to burn out all together.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3: 22-23

God’s compassion and grace are new every day just as my chance to keep the fire going or even clean out the old ash and start anew.  Just as our full propane tank (yes, we did get it filled just in case) is ready to kick on when we just can’t keep the fire hot enough, our Savior is there so we do not have to do it on our own.

And as I sit here by the wood stove, my body warmed by its radiant heat, my heart is moved by the strength and support I have in my Savior. My prayer today: “Dear Lord, please supply me with what I need to keep not just the wood stove but also my family going in this time of change and to maintain the faith and trust I have in you to take care of us when I cannot do it alone. Amen.”


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About Tammy Pedersen

Tammy is married to John Pedersen, manager of Briarmoore and Grass Stain Tour extraordinaire. She is blessed to be able to stay at home with her three children. When not busy with farming and homeschool, Tammy can be found with knitting needles or crochet hook in hand, reading or writing. Someday she hopes to combine her love of travel with mission work.
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11 Responses to The Wood Stove

  1. Connie says:

    Amen!!! If it makes you feel any better, I’ve been tending this fire at home while I homeschool and have struggled in the same way. Some of our wood was wet, I didn’t time it right getting the logs on there in between grammar and math, and a couple times, both wood stoves went out. We have a heat pump as back up but I dread hearing that thing turn on, so I try with all my might to make sure those fires are going. 🙂 The scripture, “He gently leads those with young” is springing up in my heart. He is so good to us. 🙂 God bless you!!! 🙂

    • Tammy Pedersen says:

      Thank you for the comments Connie! Sometimes isn’t it nice to know others share the same struggles 🙂

  2. Catharine says:

    What a Beautiful reflection!!!


  3. Hello Tammy and any concerned

    The idea in this article sounds lovely, but guess what? I live in a city, but even in the country, sorry to say, but inhaling wood smoke is still hazardous to do. How come? Please do some online research to find out why, if you haven’t already.

    Best of health everyone.
    Deb Marchant’, in Shoreline, Washington

    • Curtis says:

      The problem is when smoke gets out into the living space when starting it up (which is rare if you do it right). A hot fire will burn most, if not all visible wood smoke (essentially un-burnt particulate matter) meaning you shouldn’t see smoke coming from the chimney. If you do see smoke, the fire isn’t hot enough and that means that creosote can build up can become a fire hazard if the stove burns too cool for long periods of time too often. I personally don’t fully trust the what the EPA says about wood smoke because their interests are in oil companies (they banned the sale of all older style stoves and ordered that they need to be scrapped because they are inefficient. That’s funny because burning wood is carbon neutral- you can only release as much CO2 as what the tree collected during its life.) Wood burning is nothing new, so there is no logical reason that it is the source of increased pollution. Increased dependence on non-carbon neutral, non-renewable fossil fuels is a more logical answer.

  4. Kristin says:

    This post reminds me so much of when my family lived in an old farmhouse, and we partially heated with a wood stove. I LOVED it! I miss it, but now we heat with a waterstove, so we still get to smell the woodsmoke in the yard. Thank you for sharing the correlation with God’s faithfulness, too. Indeed, He is faithful, and always with us, in good times and hard.

  5. A really uplifting post. My advice on the stove is to have 3 baskets indoors with the logs and store some at the side of the stove. This gives them the chance to dry out before putting them on.

    • Tammy Pedersen says:

      Thank you for the basket idea. We do have one wood box inside, but that may not be enough, especially during this really cold spell!

  6. Ms. Daisy says:

    This is the one thing we want in any home we find in the future. We had a wood stove when I was younger at our cottage. It warmed up the entire little house! I wish we could have had it for this especially cold winter! Stay cozy!

  7. Advanced combustion wood stoves do not need thermometers as much as older equipment does. You can check the condition of the fire visually. If the fire is burning properly, the glass door stays clear. If the glass becomes hazy or develops dark stains quickly, the fire has been turned down too low or the firewood is too wet. The glass should stay clear when the fire has a higher heat output and the firewood is of good quality. Another indicator is the flame itself. The more complex the flame, the better the combustion in the stove.

  8. Katie Benz says:

    I loved this post!!! We have a fireplace in our little ranch house in the suburbs but we long for a woodstove to heat the whole house with. Thank you for the inspiring words:)