Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

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A Report on Warmth

12/12/2013 10:18:00 AM

Tags: off-grid, wood heat, community, Bethann Weick, Maine

Despite a few days of rain and some temperatures creeping towards forty degrees, it is certainly gettingToasty warm inside as the moon comes up over fresh snow. colder, overall. Winter’s perennial arrival is unfolding. To accompany this change of season, Ryan and I find ourselves fielding questions from friends and acquaintances alike.

“How is the cabin?”

“You must be burning a lot of wood?”

“Were you warm enough last night?”

“Was the cabin cold this morning?”

We are touched by friends’ concern, and flattered that our well-being is at the forefront of their wintertime thoughts. Such questions are certainly valid, as we both have spent past seasons living in colder and less-heated abodes. However, we are pleased to assert that our cabin is: warm!  

Our chinking improvements of this past September – mortaring between the logs with a mix of sand, sawdust, lime, and mortar mix – have yielded wonderful results. The difference from last winter, when the cabin was chinked with a rubberized caulk and oakum, is tremendous. While our woodpile is shrinking, the wood is disappearing slowly, gradually – and yet we’re more comfortable than ever before.

But what do we mean by warmth? It’s true that the cabin temperature fluctuates, as would anyone’s residence that is heated exclusively with wood, but not uncomfortably so. With a fire in the morning and evenings, it is still pleasantly warm late in the afternoon. Overnight, the cabin holds the heat such that the blankets with which we start the evening are still sufficient come morning.

Indeed, after cooking our evening meal on the stovetop, we’re often down to our long johns and t-shirts, basking in a heat wave. The loft is a toasty resting spot, and certainly stays warm long after the first floor has begun to cool. We no longer need to huddle around the stove come morning, nor do we stuff ourselves like Michelin men into layers of sweaters. Contrary to many inquiries, we do not see our breath when we first awake.

Most grateful for the improvements is Mica, who is relieved that we have finally made a proper canine habitat. He no longer has to accept the challenges of our unusual choices. We still look to him and say: “We’re only starting this fire for you, Mica …”

… but we relish the warmth as well.

Start planning your spring plantings now! Contact Beth via to design your herb garden, vegetable plantings, or small orchard.

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