A Morning Date With the Wood Burner

Hello darlings! I just looked at the time and it’s incredible how quickly the hours just fly ahead when I’m consumed in a task. When I got up this morning our house was so cold because we were lazy this weekend and didn’t keep an eye on the wood burner. Last night Jay went to check it and confirmed the fire had gone out some time ago, and flipped the switch to heat up our water with electricity instead. We are lucky we aren’t in the dead of winter with twenty below zero. While it’s still on the plus side, although only a few degrees, it seems the water stays warm for longer, even after the fire has gone out.

Using electricity is something I find so wasteful when we have our own wood to burn, but I am also grateful we have that option — as much as it’s not meant as backup for our laziness. However it’s very useful on those harshest and most painfully cold days since burning wood simply isn’t enough. Of course, I am completely okay with putting on an extra layer of clothes, but not having the luxury of warm water on those days isn’t so nice. That said, we haven’t had a winter like that for a long, long time now.

ash-chamber-overflowing
The ash waste goes into this container, and a big screw is attached to the handle, with which we grind the waste through a pipe in the wall and into a big barrel on the other side.

As soon as the darkness lifted, I got dressed in my work clothes and went outside to deal with the fire. I really don’t like going out there when it’s till dark, at least not up on the loft. There are so many deep corners up there and the slightest wind whistles eerily through the old wood. I’m a grown woman but still afraid of the dark and so easily spooked it’s ridiculous. Some nights I have to wrap the bed cover around my legs — I have this strange fear of something touching my feet. I’ve read and heard that I’m not alone in that, though. Do any of you have fears like that?

The first thing I do when I get out there is fill up the container with wood chips. If the fire has gone out, I have to turn the feed off before or it will push wood into the burner, which fills up and gets clogged without a fire. It is only now that I am getting the hang of all the things involved in this. The amount of times Jay has had to answer the same questions!

checking-the-wood-burner-chamber

cleaning-the-wood-burner-chamber

I think the fire went out before we ran out of wood because the burner chamber was full of wood chips and big charred/melted lumps. I have no idea what happened, but I spent the longest time cleaning before I could even get started on building the fire. I had to reach in there with my hands and dig it all out.

a-pot-full-of-ash

The actual fire is in the end part of the pipe which feeds wood, and not inside the burner chamber. Took me some time before I understood this. Air also blows through this pipe, so before the fire is alive and steady, I have to disable the screw, otherwise it will just push whatever little glowing embers have ignited out into the burner chamber. And then I have to start all over.

the-wood-feed-lever

the-bolt-screw-nut-thingy

I gave up trying to find the appropriate names for these parts. In the first image are the two levers — one connected to the screw and one to the engine that drives it around. That bolt (or whatever it’s called) in the second image has a ball bearing inside it (I think). It keeps the two levers connected, and before the fire burns, it has to be removed so that the engine (or compressor?) only blows air through the feed pipe. Jay was in charge of this at first, but now that I can do it, I have to be the one to tighten this bolt, otherwise I can’t get it back off. He tightens it way too much. For my strength, at least, haha.

lighting-the-kindling

burning-milk-carton

We collect all burnable things from the household rubbish and use it for kindling. These milk cartons are perfect since I just open it up and fill it with paper and carton and whatever else, then light it up. After that I put it into the end of the feed pipe, where there has to be wood chips. Then I just wait until the wood a little further in is burning. This looks really cool. Like hundreds of tiny, tiny fireflies soaring out from the pipe and into the wood burner chamber. I tried to get a photo of it, but I wasn’t willing to risk the health of my camera. 😉 I did manage to catch a few flying dots of fire, though!

flying-burning-dots

So that was my morning. I think I spent almost two hours out there, and another couple of hours, almost, getting this written because I do not possess the skill of multitasking. The editing took no time at all. I barely did anything with them, and I think it’s thanks to my yummy (it is a good word!) new lens! ❤

me-and-my-beloved-coffee
Here I am, writing you lovely people and waiting for hot water so I can wash all the soot off, haha!

Now I will wish you all a wonderful week. I hope it brings many good things your way. I also want to thank you for all the lovely words you leave me, they really make me so happy and I love reading them. I will sit down and answer your comments a little later today. I’ll see you soon!

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Those Little Things

Good afternoon my dear friends and readers!

I remember when I first arrived in Finland, to this farm and when Jay’s parents lived in this house. Some ten years ago now. One of those things that stood out mostly was how they received guests and the entire machinery around having people over for dinner or a special occasion. So very different from my own parents and how I grew up.

One room in this house was specifically designated to the purpose of guests, only, and on all other days the room stood untouched, unvisited. The furniture were from previous generations — either crafted by those who had lived here before, or bought to match that era. I think jugend would be the closest to accurate style of these tables, chairs and cabinets. Lamps and carpets.

setting-the-table
The table and chairs are new, but I have kept that cabinet because it’s just so beautiful. I would have kept the matching table and chairs if it had only had capacity for more than four people. Maybe one day I’ll figure out a way to rebuild or extend it, somehow. 🙂

That room I am talking about is through the doorway you can see to the left, and no longer in use. It has turned into an “anxiety object” — a corner of this house into which we over the past few years have shoved furniture, boxes and just stuff every time we have done renovations or cleaned. Panic cleaned, as I would like to call it. Jay nor I are the tidiest people, and so every single time we have guests over we run around like mad to get the house in order. I have tried to then keep it that way, but over time it slowly falls into oblivion, and then it’s always the same thing the next time we invite people.

lotta-wiping-countertops

Jay’s mother would get everything done beforehand. The food, the pies, cakes and pastries, and all the cleaning. On the day, she would heat up what was to be served warm, and all she had to do was get herself ready and set the table. Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? I remember the first time I wanted to host Christmas Eve here and I still had things left to cook when the guests arrived! Haha. I can laugh at it now, but back then I was a wreck and it didn’t help when Jay pointed out how his mother had always done it.

We have had some time to practice now, though, and last Thursday, when Lilli’s godparents and their son were to come over, all was ready twenty minutes before the set time of their arrival. I could sit peacefully on a stool and watch the oven. I said to Jay well, what do you know? We’re getting better at this! I did however go into town to buy the cake and buns to go with the coffee this time. I always bake and cook myself otherwise, but this time I decided not to — I simply felt I didn’t have the time.

waiting-for-guests

clean-living-room-window-views
Look how tidy it is! ❤

clean-living-room-entry-way-view

Even that anxiety, that painful knot in my stomach that usually appears when I feel those expectations of how to conduct myself, how to be social and a good hostess barely bothered me. Of course I know these people well, but that hasn’t made much of a difference in the past. Either way I am honestly so happy about this achievement, which I really feel it is, and in light of how down I have felt lately, I wanted to share some of this happiness and accomplishment with you. I am still so grateful and aware of the wonderful support you have given me, and even if I have had a couple of late nights since last I wrote, I am on track toward catching up on my rest.

snow-on-maple-leaf

Another thing I have wanted to do for a while now is to take the camera with me when I refill the wood chips that we use to heat up the house and water. The thing is, though, that for one, I am so scared of getting dust onto the camera sensor again, and a lot of it flies around up on the loft when I shovel all that wood around. Another is that my camera isn’t very good at handling higher ISO’s, which are needed due to the dim lighting. The photos turn out grainy, and my perfectionistic tendencies cringe and squirm when I look at the results. It’s actually the same when I take photos inside the house, but lately I have consciously made an effort to try to let it go. It’s so silly that I leave my camera sitting just because a little graininess scares me. And I can still practice so many other aspects of photography.

wood-chip-shaft-door
In the loft, the hatch to the shaft. At the bottom is a big screw that feeds the wood chips through an iron pipe and into the wood burner.

So the other day I took my camera with me but completely forgot to take my tripod, and lazy as I was, I just placed the camera on whatever surface I could find, resulting in a very, very dirty camera body and shoulder strap. I set the timer and let it snap multiple shots as I worked.

Now that the temperatures are dropping we will need to go out there more often, and when it’s really cold — fifteen to twenty below zero or lower — we need to refill more than once a day. Luckily we aren’t there just yet, and once every other day or two days is enough.

wood-chips-refilled

wood-burner

The snow we had a few days ago is now completely gone, but that’s a good thing since I have some work in the forest. Some of you might remember I planted trees earlier this year, and since then a lot of grass and other vegetation has grown around and over them. So I need to go back to clear it away before the heavy snow arrives.

house-in-twilight

I hope you’ve all had a great weekend and I wish you a good start on next week. Much love. ❤