The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Wood Stove All-Nighter

January 23rd, 2014 · 2 Comments · Posted in rural life


With the thermometer stuck at -10 and wind chills dropping to around -30 degrees Fahrenheit, I decided to feed the wood stove overnight. That means sleeping on the couch in the living room with an alarm clock set to go off every hour and a half. For some reason, I didn’t need the alarm clock too much. I had a good fire burning, and regularly woke up just as logs were crumbling into embers, time enough to add more wood.

By the time morning rolled around, I’d managed to maintain an indoor temperature of 60 degrees. “I was so cozy in my bed,” said 14-year-old daughter. “Then I had to get out of bed. It’s depressing.”

Now the arctic blast seems to be locked in through next week. I’m hoping to put our basement oil furnace into service, even though it’s not really connected to the upstairs. I plan to leave the door to the basement open, and place a box fan there to circulate the warm air.

I haven’t been running the oil furnace at all because there are only a few gallons left in the tank, as measured by sticking a broom handle down into the fill hole. Yesterday I called the supplier to see about getting a delivery, but with our driveway covered with snow and ice, there’s a good chance the fuel truck wouldn’t make it up the hill. The driveway has to be “well sanded,” I was told, before the company will send a truck out.

I don’t want to suck the tank dry. Then we’d have to call a technician to bleed air out of the fuel lines. I stopped at the hardware store and bought a five-gallon plastic fuel tank. I’m told I can replenish the tank in the basement with kerosene or diesel. Only the nearest pump for that is in Greenwich, eight miles away.

How long will five gallons of heating oil last in our house? According to the information on our furnace, it burns around .75 gallons per hour. That means I’ll  be making at least a couple of trips to Greenwich to get us through these cold, cold nights coming up.

The good news? Only a couple months of winter left….

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  • barbara

    Your heating experience brings back memories for me. I’m sure you have thought of this but just in case here is my suggestion — electric wrap all your pipes — even under the sink, buy a couple of the new type space heaters to warm up a room where your pipes are coming through, all sleep in the same room. Eight years ago I stayed alone during a Michigan winter in my son’s cabin that did not have heat — only heated the kitchen and small living with space heaters (blocking off the rest of the rooms) and my son wrapped all the pipes before I moved in for the winter. I slept in the living room. It was so cold that I kept hair blowers to heat the metal around the outside door so I could get in and out. I had one blower outside and one inside. The one outside had to remain outside or I would never be able to get back inside without breaking the door. It was a beautiful and memorable experience but trying at times. — barbara

  • Ed Bruske

    Wow, that sounds harsh, Barbara. Our pipes are the latest composite technology and the temperature in the basement is steady, so we’re not worried about anything freezing. But we have turned on a space heater in the living room. We just need to keep our firewood in order and get through this latest cold snap.