Ok, so my thinking is just not what some of you fine folks would call normal.  Well, I know I can’t blame it on the horse that almost kicked me in the head. That would make a most fine reason. But he missed. He knew I did not like him and it appeared as though the feeling was mutual. When I saw those steel shoes coming at my forehead, I ducked. Well, I think he missed. They say a crazy man doesn’t know he is crazy.  I sit here with my coffee and computer and begin to count the amount of times my brain has been scrambled a bit. Unfortunately, that is quite a high number. Even a couple of times I was knocked right into years gone by. But, I think I am up to date now. I have heard many say, “I definitely think outside the box.” But, there was never a box in my early years, we could not afford one. So, I became what some call a “free thinker.” I will admit, sometimes, my ego and stubbornness gets into the way occasionally, but that is how I was made.  Enough of this, lets get on with the story.

Over the years, the 15 or more houses I have lived in, the majority had a wood stove for heat. I do so like the feeling of heat coming off a cast iron stove. There were years, I burned oil or pellets to keep the house warm. My wallet complained quite a bit when I burned oil for heat. So I tried to supplement it with a wood stove. Especially when I was working in the woods for D.C. Morton. Every time I came home from work, I would bring some wood home. The mills did not take anything less than 4 inches in diameter.  It seemed a shame to just leave it to rot on the yard. So, I would load the truck with all it would carry for the trip home.  One year, I was able to bring home almost 12 cord of nice four inch firewood. I felt quite confident we would not run out again that year. I decided to put in another wood stove. I even put a nice glass door fireplace in my office space. We were surely going to be warm and toasty when that forty below zero January showed up.  It would come by almost a whole week at a time. But this year, we would be able to just enjoy the warm heat. There is one thing I forgot though. The rule of thumb goes that it takes three cord of wood just to keep a wood stove going during those long cold winters. If one was to do the math, twelve cord was going to cut it close. Well, we did run out of wood in March. So, I had to come up with a plan where I could burn fresh wood in the stoves. This is where a lot of people run into trouble. When you open that stove door and hear the wood hissing at you, there will be trouble. You see the moisture coming out of the wood goes up the chimney and condensates where it can. Usually it is where the chimney turns colder. This builds up and now you have a great spot for a chimney fire. I will admit in the old days, I have had more than one chimney fire. Until, I came up with this almost brilliant plan. But, this plan works because over the years, smelling that wood smoke is an all too common smell.  I could be in such a fine dream but that smell would immediately wake me up. This little idea works only because of that training. I would not suggest it to any of you flatlanders. You will surely have a fire where you do not want it. Confident in the fact that I would surely wake up if I smelled smoke, I built a wood dryer. This dryer goes on top of the wood stove or furnace. I can now go out into the woods, cut a tree down and use that for fire the next day. All one has to do is make sure that first fire you build in the morning is going to be a hot one. This is where one of my furniture creations come in handy. If I forgot to bring in some nice kindling, I need a great fire starter. I can make another one when summer comes around.  The heat in combination with the furnace fan, dries that wood as though it sat in the summer sun. You will smell the wood if it gets too hot. So, you just take that out and put in more wood.  It makes a lot of sense if you stop and think about it. Cutting a hardwood tree down this time of year helps feed the deer.  I usually drag the whole tree, limbs and all out where I can watch the deer feed off this tree. There has been more than once I cut a tree down just to feed the deer. My wallet told me not to buy any deer food for a week or two, so I cut a couple of trees down. Another bonus of cutting this time of year, there is less sap in the wood. Also, white birch cut this time of year is better for creating furniture. The bark tends to stick to the wood a lot better when the tree is cut during the winter. This becomes a win, win solution for me. And, the bonus is my wallet becomes much happier. The deer are happy, they have food. My plants are happy because they think they are outside. The morning temperatures in my little castle may start at 45 degrees in the morning but get up into the 80’s when the sun finally gets up into the sky. I don’t really like that 45 degree start, but everyone else is happy, so I tolerate it. The pellet stove downstairs keeps that section nice and warm. I could always go sit there until the furnace does its job. I used to have three pellet stoves, but gave two of them away. The wood was free, all I had to do was go get it. Sometimes, it even just shows up in my yard.  This makes my wallet even happier, so I gave away what I didn’t need to someone who needed them. I may be getting older, I may even be more cantankerous, but by golly, I AM GOING TO BE WARM.  I just may have to make more furniture.  Ken White COB mountainman

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