Why Heat with Wood

Since childhood, I’ve always felt burning wood was a cherished pastime. There are few things I place as much importance in on our farm as I do the cutting, hauling, splitting and stacking of firewood. The entire process is sacred and rewarding to me. Walking out to the woodlot during a warm summer evening as the fireflies begin their nightly show and taking stock of what I have ready for this winter, for next, and beyond, brings great satisfaction. There the firewood is stacked on pallets in rows fifty feet long and as I walk around the woodlot, I know I will have no trouble keeping my family warm, no matter how cold winter will get.

woodlot
Photo courtesy of Sarah B. Gilliam

My family and I heat 100% with wood. In a corner of our living room, down in the basement lies a small black stove with a glass front, and from October until April it sings that lovely dry heat song that brings true definition to cozy. Where we live, in Middle Tennessee, winter’s embrace is rarely as intense for as long as it is, even one state up. Yet still we burn wood for over half of the year. As September’s iron grip on summer becomes as brittle as a falling hackberry leaf and October’s air whispers in that wonderful cool, dry and crisp change to the hills and hollows of our community, the fires are then lit. In the backyard, fire is ringed with round granite river rock, chairs are set and benches occupied. The sizzling smells of wood-fired cooking mingle with the smells of oak, cherry and hickory smoke as the cast iron is laid on coals and grills. Little ones vie for the roasting stick and screech or giggle when their treat catches on fire or is toasted to a perfect golden brown. Inside the stove is alive, pinging and popping with chill crushing heat that tucks in the house on a cool night. There is simply nothing like it. It’s instinctual. And it’s worth all the work it takes.

I burn firewood to keep my house warm in the cooler months, to build a bonfire in the backyard for family and friend time, and sometimes I sell a little bit too. I also do it because I love working the wood. This isn’t chair making obviously. It’s hard. It’s hot. It takes time. It can be tough on the bones and back. It’s serious business that I don’t have to do. I could turn on the heater and life would be much easier. However, for me, too much about life these days is just that, easier. We are meant to use our bodies to work. To hunt and gather food over long distances. To tend fields for crops to feed us and our animals. To build ships and buildings and railroads. We aren’t built so well to sit down and stare at things. Sometimes we are really good at doing that however, and it shows. This causes a reaction after a time, and some people work on reversing this phenomena by going to the gym. I am not built for that! I can however, walk out to my field on that same warm summer evening, where I have a freshly cut pile of rounds of wood. Be it ash, maple, beech, no matter the wood, I work it with axe and maul until it goes from would be landfill to a nice, neat stack of commodity. I do it all by hand. No hydraulics please. The more I have to use my body, powered by food grown in the sun, the better I feel and the more rewarding it becomes. It’s literally a cycle. I eat food grown by the sun, whether meat, vegetable or grain, and this powers me to process these trees into fuel to keep us warm and cook our food. This fuel is virtually free, and it too is grown by the sun. When I heat my house with wood, it’s effectively solar powered, just like me. It’s a year-round activity that keeps me in a preferred shape and cuts the power bill by over two thirds versus the summer month rates. I may also like telling the guys at work on a 90+ degree day in July that I’m going home to split wood by hand and get a good lather built up before sundown. Heads shake. Eyebrows raise. The word ‘crazy’ may even be used. I’m good with that because come January, I’ll be warm and toasty for the cost of a little sweat equity.

Editor’s Note: Want to learn more about wood heating? Make sure to check out Patrick’s posts about splitting wood by hand and how to choose the right firewood.

This article was first posted October 2018.

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Peggy Lankford
2 months ago

Love my wood heat from a child till 5yrs ago and im 63.So hoping to build a tiny home with wood stove

Lehman's
Lehman's
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Reply to  Peggy Lankford
2 months ago

Wood heating is such a comforting feeling.

Hippie Cacti
Hippie Cacti
2 months ago

How simply lovely. What a beautifully written article. I really dig the authors expression and can feel the joy.

Craig
Craig
1 month ago

“ no hydraulics please “ agreed. Cutting,loading, hauling, unloading,splitting, stacking , and burning I enjoy the entire process.

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Lehman's
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Reply to  Hippie Cacti
1 month ago

Thank you so much for your feedback! We love hearing from our readers.

Theresa Brooks
Theresa Brooks
1 month ago

Dear Patrick, I concur. There is absolutely nothing more satisfying or practical and fulfilling than cutting, splitting, stacking and burning your own firewood. My husband and I purchased a home for $500.00 in what was known as Corktown in Detroit. We wanted to renovate out more than 100 year old home. And fortunately, we had very little cash saved. I thought about people in Other places that used available resources and made a living from the land. Newborn babies in the countryside clothed in wool came to mind. Fires blazing bright warming homes. We heated our home sloley by our wood burning stove with a catalytic converter for six years. What a wonderful cycle of living. Chop your wood and heat yourself twice. We added warmth to our floors by radiant heat and kept our floors at 50 degrees, those were the days!!!!! Continued peace to you. Theresa, thank you for letting me share. Merry Christmas.

Cal 762
Cal 762
1 month ago

I agree. Nothing like a wood fire. When I smell the smoke it reminds me of camping in the great outdoors. My little airtight woodstove heats the house better than the forced air heater.
The story below is about much more than firewood and should warm your heart and moisten your eye. I believe it will resonate with Lehmans customers. The title is a bit misleading, so don’t judge a story by its title. Enjoy

https://sportingclassicsdaily.com/the-christmas-rifle/

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
29 days ago

I’ve heated with wood since I owned my first house at the age of 20. I’m still heating with wood at the age of 57. There is no better heat than wood stove heat. I buy my wood but will use my log splitter to breakdown bigger pieces or make kindling. I even have an antique cook stove. For me, this simpler life is better even though it takes more work.

Joe Spencer
Joe Spencer
29 days ago

Amen on the article about heating with wood.

Can830
Can830
29 days ago

I will never own a home without a wood burning fire place! It has saved us during winter power outages.

Robert Sandberg
Robert Sandberg
29 days ago

Oh, yes! I miss the days when I cut, split, stacked and burned firewood for our family’s Wood stove. All with my loyal Border Collie by my side. No hydraulics for me either then. I’m now a truck driver and have to mostly rely on the truck heater to stay warm, but I am working towards having a real farmstead where I can haul my fire wood with draft horses and cut it up with a horse powered treadmill saw and log splitter.

Rebekah
Rebekah
29 days ago

I bought several splitting thingees and a kindling cracker this past year and I’ve had so much fun with those items splitting wood… thanks Lehman!

Jannki Mithaiwala
Jannki Mithaiwala
29 days ago

I live in California. I love a wood burning fireplace. My new home had one but the previous owners had the chimney blocked off. I fixed that. I use it and I cut my own firewood too. I use whatever I can but often have to buy the wood. Since I don’t live in a huge lot. I also have a pot belly stove but I’ll have to sneak it in my master bedroom as it’s not allowed here to have wood burning new fireplaces. I would a wood burning stove to cook upon since I am a chef. I’ll buy a vacation property and install one. Until then I use my perfection oil heater and my outdoor fire bonfire pit and enjoy

Lehman's
Lehman's
Admin
Reply to  Rebekah
16 days ago

Thanks for your comment, Rebekah!

Lehman's
Lehman's
Admin
Reply to  Can830
16 days ago

It makes every home so cozy as well.

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