Global Skywatch

Ted’s essays

winter heat


In 1980 I built my dream house on a south-facing hill with winter solar gain thoroughly designed in, and an efficient woodstove as the only other heat source.

Both Good News and Bad News: it was in Northern California. That meant ample supply of oak, madrone, eucalyptus, live oak and other hardwoods that put out A LOT of heat (30 – 36 million BTUs per cord), little creosote, smoke, ash, and burned long per fireplace loading. The bad news was cultural, political and governmental. I did not fit there, moving from my childhood homeland in March of 2000.

I had not heated with firewood again until 2013. Hardwoods are essentially unobtainable while the fir and pine (13-20 million BTUs per cord in their optimum state) I snubbed in California are extremely plentiful. Heck, the US Forest Service burns thousands of acres of it every summer.

For many reasons, I have been buying cut, split, delivered, and sometimes stacked firewood since I arrived in Montana – trusting the long-term woodsmen to deliver the good wood has not worked well … until this time.

Eric is a big, powerful, honorable and expert woodsman. I guessed our new place to be a 4-cord per winter home. Allowing for the worst and being real busy with other aspects of our move, I ordered 8 cords cut, split, delivered and stacked. He finished building a mountain of it October 1st.

We have enjoyed several wonderful, hot, efficient fires with his product. His ripe lodgepole pine is everything the other guys promised but failed to deliver.

I finished the household kindling and log processing setup yesterday.

This morning it was 26-degrees outside with our first dusting of snow accompanying our first freeze of the season.

I am feeling snug and smug.