Staying Warm in the Ozarks

I caught my son and his father as they unloaded firewood for me today. I ended up with about 4 ricks, enough to last a major portion of the winter depending on how cold it gets. There is nothing to compare wood heat… toasty all day long, and the heady aroma of a wood fire in the stove early morning… you just can’t beat it.

Most of what you see here is oak. I also received some hickory, cherry (don't ask, Bro now knows how to identify cherry.), walnut and blackjack. Adrian and his father, Tom D.

I spent one whole winter without wood heat; thought I was going to freeze to death. I had propane backup heat installed up and down stairs and decided to go with that for my winter heat. Big mistake. That is how we learn things best, through our mistakes.

I remember my first winter here in this big ‘ole house alone. I was scared to let the fire go out. Adrian’s (my son) father had always tended the fire. Oh, I might have thrown a log in now and again but I relied on his expertise to keep us warm while I took to the kitchen chores. Don’t get me wrong now, Tom was all about helping out and sharing the workload. I remember the time he made me french toast for breakfast… never mind. Anyway he always helped clean house, took turns with dishes and laundry and I in return helped load and stack fire wood when it was time. I also enjoyed burning brush. That first winter was scary. I learned many things. I made my first purchase in a hardware store, and at Home Depot. I balanced my checkbook the first time. I went to the courthouse and paid the taxes and licensed the vehicles I had been left with. I learned more things than I knew even needed doing.

One particularly cold week that winter I worked late. By the time I got Adrian picked up from the baby sitter and got us home down the trecherous 1/2 mile of mud we called a driveway it was sleeting and sticking to everything. It had already been raining most of a week. The inside temperature was mid 50’s and damp. I had thawed some catfish a friend gave me and planned on frying it up that evening. I was exhausted, the house was stone cold, there was no wood inside, Adrian, only 7 years old, hungry, and sleet pelting the windows. I went out for wood.

I made three attempts to build a fire. There is this phenomena that when it is very cold and very wet it is very difficult if not impossible to build a fire. I was facing that very phenomena. I finally gave up on the fire and turned to the task of getting dinner on the table.

I opened the package of catfish to be assaulted by the aroma of mud, my stomach turned. Strong mud. I started grilled cheese instead and threw the fish out the door. You can do that in the Ozarks. Throw food out the door. The dogs or coyotes or buzzards will love you for it. Or it will compost. Either way everyone wins.

I’m one of those crazy people that think a human being has first priority and I give that to my young son. During this whole difficult evening, which I might add we went to bed cold, huddling together under a heap of blankets, there was a horrible persistent steady yeowling noise. After we dined, in our coats, on our grilled cheese, I went outdoors again in search of kittens.

Mind you, in January one of my barn cats had given birth to a litter of kittens in the freezing rain in the mud next to a tree. They were still alive so I brought the lot of them in and placed them in a box. Adrian tended them and the momma until I made him go to bed. None of them lived and we were sad the next morning and I don’t really know what else to say about that.

I keep dry wood and kindling in the house all through the fall and winter. A little slice of insurance.

Last Thursday night, Thanksgiving eve, there was a small freezing rain event in this neck of the woods and it reminded me of the ice storm of “09. I brought in a few extra logs that evening.

Thank you Adrian and Tom for my winter heat!

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2 Responses to Staying Warm in the Ozarks

  1. Guy Harris says:

    I liked your thoughts and the way you expressed them. It reminded me of the many cold winters spent back in the deep woods during the early years. The struggle to create warmth from the forest that surrounded us. The need to provide, and keep my young family warm. Those were hard days,,, those were good days…..

  2. eb - mom says:

    Very well done Sarah…Yes I re-read your account of the 09 Ice Storm…Left you a mesage on it…Boy, that wood pile looks really great…They do good work…
    Will finish packing soon. then when the time is right we will start for Arkansas. We hve an alternate southern route to take if we need it. We have 4 more storms in a row coming our way, thank goodness our snow fall here has been less that expected….hope to see you soon….Love you….mom

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