Monday, November 1, 2010

Her house was all tarnished with ashes and soot

It's cold here. Cold, I tell you!!! So cold, in fact, that we had to light the kitchen wood stove today.

We've had the living room's wood burning insert going for a couple of weeks now, but it hadn't been quite cold enough to light up the second wood stove.

But now it is!!! brrrr!! 28 degrees at night. ( And in another month, I will look back at this post and laugh, because by that time, 28 will seem balmy.)

Thanks to the cold, I did have a somewhat productive day:

Before I could fire up the kitchen stove, I had to put away all the dried herbs hanging around it, since I really didn't want flaming tumbleweeds flying down the hall. Putting away the herbs required the messy work of removing stems and bagging the dry, crumbly herbs. The kitchen smelled nice, though.

As long as I had all that mess to clean up, I decided it was a great time to vacuum the back of the fridge. For some reason, the fridge runs much better when the vents are not clogged with dust and matted with the fur of various indoor mammals. Go figure. Do you ever look behind your fridge? I suggest bringing a chainsaw, just in case of wild tarantula attacks.

I used hot coals from the living room wood burner to get the kitchen fire going. But of course then I realized that the living room wood burner was chock full of ash, with barely room for more wood.

If you've never cleaned out a wood stove, let me tell you, it's an adventure. Hot ash floats. It cools, and then it settles. Before you know it, your home will look like Mount St Helens erupted nearby.

It's best to clean out a cold wood stove. But really, that seems to happen only during the rare heat wave, and then maybe in the spring. In the meantime, to keep from piling ash all the way up the chimney, you are often stuck with cleaning out a toasty wood stove full of glowing coals.

Before you get started, remember to remove anything flammable from the area. Specifically: the cat. Flaming cats will always head for the curtains. (It's been scientifically proven.) Finding a lack of curtains, they will climb the next best thing: your leg.

The next step is to turn off the wood burner's fan, and try to let the air become calm, to help avoid spreading the ash into the next county.

Gather your supplies: an empty ash bucket (not plastic, unless you want Gumby melted into your skin), small fireplace shovel, and flame proof gloves. Welding gloves are great for using around the fire. Be assured that when you don't put on the fireproof gloves before opening the door to the wood stove, a flaming log is sure to fall out, leaving you juggling fire as you try to find and put on said gloves.

Scoop hot ash into metal ash bucket, as gently as possible. Try not to dump the ash and poof it up into your face, sending you into a fit of coughing, sneezing, and Tourrette's.

Carry bucket full of hot ash outside. Place it away from house, car, dry tinder, and flammable outdoor pets. Remember, flaming pets will claw their way enthusiastically up your house, onto the roof, back down the chimney, and up the curtains...unless you don't have curtains...

Go back inside. Gape in horror at the cloud of ash hovering over your furniture. Once it has settled, begin The Great De-Ashing. This is best accomplished by having someone else do it. Second best is to dress small children in dust mop type clothing, slide them around the room and across the furniture. Failing the use of small children, or perhaps some large guinea pigs, you'll just have to dust by hand.

Oh yeah, I also baked two chicken pot pies, two apple pies (yes, all from scratch), put three quarts of cooked chicken (our own chickens) in the freezer, and did some laundry. Yay for me!


Nancy @ el vigilante said...

Haven't fired up the wood stove yet. Yes, it's getting down into the 30s at night, but I'm being stubborn. The longer I wait, the sooner spring will be here -- at least, that's my theory.

You sure had a busy day! Making me feel a bit lazy. :)

~semi-crunchy mama~ said...

I was thinking of getting a wood stove.

Until now.

Eöl said...

So that explains the grey icing on those cupcakes!!!

Country Wife said...

@ Nancy: I like that theory!

@ Semi-crunchy mama:'s 86 in my living room right now..I had to open a window.

@ Eöl: Ha! You are lucky you are so darn cute. :P

Cowgirl in the City said...

wow... you are my hero. :)

Country Wife said...

Thanks, Cowgirl! :)