It rained and was cloudy yesterday,with seasonal temperatures. It got below 60 degrees (15 C) in the house so we lit the first fire we have had all November. It had been mostly sunny and mild so far so with a combination of passive solar gain and a wee bit of austerity we hadn’t had to burn any wood so far. The forecast was cooler weather for that next couple of days so although we might have abided a cooler temperature for a day if the prospect for warmer weather lay ahead it didn’t so a fire was lit in the cook stove and she used that to cook our meals.
This long of a fire drought is unusual for November, as the average daily temperature at this date is high/low 52/34 (12/1 C) and that normally would require a fire from time to time.
We get the passive solar gain from opening the curtains and letting the sun shine in during the day and closing them at night to trap the heat. We also get heat off of our attached greenhouse. Not as much as a normal greenhouse might give, because the large amount of thermal mass in the form of 2 feet of stone in the floor absorbs some, but that benefits us later.
We also had a few days where it was warmer outside than inside and heated by opening the doors and windows, another form of passive solar gain.
We also use secondary passive solar devices, which is to say we wear hats and sweaters in the house which enables us to be comfortable down to 60 degrees (15 C). Tolerating that temperature saves us a lot of wood. It isn’t really a question of tolerating, it is fine.
When it goes below that, Vidya’s fingers get cold when she paints so it hurts production and a fire is brought to bear.
The last fire we had was the last day in October when 3 devotees from New York City visited with 7 students from Columbia University for lunch. Assuming they would prefer it a little warmer than we are accustomed to she cooked on the wood stove for them, which we felt would also be of interest to them.
The meal was home grown potatoes, squash, gathered nuts, including roast chestnuts, salad, carrots, peppers and imported organic brown rice and tempeh. Locally grown beet patties with imported cheese melted on them was a hit. They seemed to like it, simple but lots of natural flavor that commercially grown food tends to lack. Some store bought mix freshly baked cookies topped it off.
Having the fire is giving me opportunity to dispose of nut shells from nuts I have been eating.
As a large portion of them are black walnut shells, they aren’t really worth much as mulch because they contain a natural herbicide that suppresses growth in other trees and plants. It isn’t worth keeping the other shells separate because they are quite sharp in any case and can cut tender feet.
So whenever I stoke or walk by the fire, I am throwing a handful of shells into it. They burn right up in a good fire, I am still playing around to see if they make good kindling.