homestead QoTD thinking big

There is no substitute for fire

“Television often gives focus to a room, but it is nothing but a feeble substitute for something which is alive and flickering… The need for fire is almost as fundamental as the need for water. Fire is an emotional touchstone, comparable to trees, other people, a house, the sky. But the traditional fireplace is nearly obsolete, and new ones are often added to homes as ‘luxury items’. Perhaps this explains why these showpiece fireplaces are always so badly located…

Less monotonous and less abstract than flowing water, even more quick to grow and to change than the young bird… fire suggests the desire to change… it magnifies human destiny; it links the small to the great, the hearth to the volcano, the life of a log to the life of a world.”

“A Pattern Language” by Christopher Alexander

🧣🧦: I like layers with my layers. So most systems at our place have backups or partners. We have an electric heat pump that keeps our home at “I hope you brought a couple of sweaters” warm. But to get truly toasty in the fall and winter and spring, we turn to our woodstove, Calcifer.

🍞🥓☕🧼👖🚿🐔: Besides heating our home, our woodstove has baked our bread, made our coffee, served up nice crispy bacon, and offered sweet blueberry cakes. The spent wood has become lye, and then soap to wash our dishes. The ash is added the chickens’ dust baths, used to fight parasites. I’ve made drawing charcoal from wild grapevine in its embers. It bakes potatoes, toasts marshmallows, and warms stew. Sopping wet clothes hang lazily around it, and with no effort on their part, are soon bone dry. Snow set out in buckets has melted down to emergency water. Because when the power goes out, the fire still works.

🤔: I don’t think woodstoves are necessarily The Answer To Energy Needs For All. Firewood is renewable, but complicated. But in the woodstove, the fire’s energy is visible and precious. It pushes me to use less, and think about it more. And that’s just not something I get from staring deeply into my thermostat.

Wherever you are folks, I hope you’re snug and warm.✨