Thursday, 12 February 2009

Decent snow at last and winter lessons

The boys have been frankly resentful of all the snow that the south of the UK has been getting over the last couple of weeks. Today, at last, we had appreciable snow here: the boys have built their first snow man and slid their first sleds. My very happy, rosy-cheeked sons are sitting in the kitchen now, eating leek and potato soup, having spent hours with local friends on the traditional village sledding field.

I've been learning new skills in the last few days too. This morning, I cleared my first driveway of snow and made a mental note to buy a lighter shovel. And having suffered another five days without central heating (we finally have it back now) I have come to grips with how to manage the wood stove. First thing in the morning, you start it up with lots of kindling and the maximum amount of air flow. You burn two or three logs very fast (field maple catches easily, because of the loose grain), until the stove metal heats up and you can feel its glow from six inches away. After that, you turn down the air flow and feed logs slowly for the rest of the day - at that point, our dense larch wood catches well, because the stove is already so hot.

I like very much the idea of growing our own fuel, but I suspect our little copse needs some managing - thinning and renewal, maybe coppicing. More skills to learn.

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