Most days, I absolutely love living in my old farm house. Baths in my huge clawfoot tub are about the best thing ever when I've had a bad day at work and the huge open kitchen is a life saver when it gets cold enough that my plants have to come inside. Lately, mom and I have been canning in my kitchen which warms the house up nicely on chilly evenings. The concrete walls tend to stay cool even into the middle of the day in the summers and since I hate to be hot when I sleep, that makes it where I can sleep with covers most of the year.
However... there are times when I seriously question my sanity in living there! For example, last night, after struggling to get a fire started in my woodburning stove, I sat shivering on the couch wishing for central heat and air. Normally, my wood burning stove does a good job of keeping the front rooms warm enough to be comfortable. For some reason, the fire didn't want to start... and then, when it finally did, the fan took forever to kick on. Finally, by the time I climbed into bed I had it warm enough to sleep. As I sit today, dreading having to fight the battle again this afternoon, I thought I'd share a few of my tips for getting a fire going... not that they're right, but hey, they work!
1. Make sure the floo is open. (Thankfully, I don't say this from a bad experience!) The air flow drawing up the chimney helps the fire to take hold.
2. Start with some smaller pieces on the bottom. I have sycamore trees in my yard and there are always branches falling. I pick these up, break them into pieces that will fit into my stove and use them as a base for my fire.
3. Use kindling! Lightard chips are your best friend when starting a fire. several pieces at the bottom of the pile will help you get enough of a flame to light your larger pieces.
4. Buy the starter matches. Those fat little matches will do a better job starting a fire than any flame lighter will! they burn slow enough to get other pieces of wood burning and are easy to light and use.
5. If you know it's going to rain, make sure you bring firewood in before it does. You can't start a fire with damp wood! (Believe me... I've tried and it's not fun!)
6. Don't try to start a fire with green wood. Seasoned wood will start easily, while fresh cut wood still have moisture in it that causes it to take longer to start and also puts out more smoke.
7. Cheat! Use any kind of fire starting devices available- fire logs, starter matches, starter packs- it's aggrivating enough without having help!
8. Once you've got a fire started, keep your embers going as long as possible. Add wood when your other pieces start to burn down... that way you don't have to start all over!