Mrs. MacGyver,  On The 'Stead

Let’s Light This Fire

So I know this goes without saying, but oil is expensive! 

Minimizing our reliance on oil is a win-win, I think we can all agree on that. Not only is it cost effective, but it’s healthier for our planet

We’re super lucky to have a gorgeous soapstone stove right smack dab in the middle of our dining room where our cats like to lay around in puddles and get themselves slightly stoned. Tough life. 

When we’re home, G starts it off in the morning before it gets too windy out, (around 7am), and we keep it stoked throughout the day and evening; if we leave it burning overnight the coals are generally still hot in the morning! We may also set our house on fire this way- who knows! We like to live dangerously!

Luckily, (and with the help of a well positioned fan), this heats the whole house! We keep our thermostats to 60, so we’re still using some heat in the back- but that’s mainly at night.

Under my husband’s tutelage, here is what I have learned:

  • I do not know how to twist paper right
  • I do not know how to stack wood right
  • Oxygen is apparently a thing
  • Fire is hot. 

So in my efforts to become a more equal partner in our homesteading-ish, I decided made of list of things that my husband already knows, (from experience? divine knowledge? google? Who knows?!), and that I need to figure the F out. And lighting the fire was top of my list.

Because lighting shit on fire is a GREAT place for someone as disaster-prone as me to start! 

Wisdom. I know. You’re welcome. So here are the pointers, not from me, but from G who is 102324x higher functioning than me

Basics for starting a wood stove fire:

  • Set up your materials, if there are coals in the fire already you’ll need to move quick
  • Open the dampener- which is the little knob thing on the bottom that stops airflow. I forgot this step. didn’t go well for me. 
  • Lightly, (not rage-y) twist newspaper into logs and place in the coals
  • Stack kindling (little stick things) in a grid, with the lightest pieces on the bottom (think like jenga or lincoln logs)
  • Place larger logs on top, kinda crisscrossed so there’s space beneath and around them for airflow
  • If the coals were still warm, you should be able to lightly blow on the newspaper to get the fire going. If not you’ll have to add a match.
  • Give it a bit of air, then close over your hatch door so you don’t die of smoke inhalation (risk management and all)
  • We have a little hook on our door to make sure it stays closed- sometimes the logs will crackle and roll, and could potentially fall out. Having a chain allows a little air to come through, but you don’t need to worry about logs falling out and setting your dining room on fire. Which would suck.

While my lumberjack husband never gets sick, I am a delicate little flower. For that reason we keep a stoneware pot on the top of the stove filled with water so that the air isn’t so dry. We also back this up with a humidifier when needed. 

We keep it stoked throughout the day by adding wood if we see it’s burning too low and a little air by cracking the door. Both of which involves picking up puddles of cats and moving them to temporary locations, before they groggily stumble back. 

Even Fishstick needs to learn!

To be fair- I don’t know shit. I started this today- so if I don’t write again, assume my house burned down. But if not- I’ll be cozy in no time!

Now that I can make a fire, I’m going to learn how to yank a chainsaw and cut some firewood! (Right after I check on my insurance deductible..)

Have you had to learn any skills by trial and error? I’d love to hear your stories- share them below!