Fire

I have commented before on the importance of water, wind, and the value of land unspoiled. The last of the Greek Classical Elements, which I have not made mention of, is of course fire. We have heated with wood for more than 20 years. When we arrived at Pairodox there was an oil furnace in the basement – it was destroyed by flood in 1996. We learned shortly after that our home could not be insured without a source of heat which was deemed to be permanent. Wood stoves were not considered to be either reliable or permanent so we have had a propane furnace in the basement for more than 15 years and have used it once. We heat the south end of the house, including the second floor by convection, with a large stove which generates 75k BTU/h. We also have a smaller wood burner which generates 15k BTU/h; this unit does double duty by cooking our food and by heating the north end of the house, upstairs (again, via convection) and down. We have always purchased pole wood from a fellow who runs between loggers and folks like us who don’t want to pay premium prices for prepared firewood. Poles need to be cut, split, and stacked to dry well before the start of heating season. So yes indeed, we have a great respect of fire and an appreciation for the heat it provides when confined within the steel and cast iron walls of our stoves. On an ecological note, there is no doubt that wood burning releases carbon into the atmosphere and may contribute to climate change. We believe that the release of carbon from wood combustion and the sequestration of the same in living wood itself is a breakeven proposition. As stewards of nearly 50 acres of Pennsylvania forest – we believe that the carbon removal realized by the trees which comprise that wood lot tips the carbon economy of the farm toward a net negative atmospheric contribution. For people in our circumstances we feel that wood burning is less damaging to the environment than burning fossil fuels. The images show smoke from a wood fire, flames at approximately 1000°C, and the flame from a propane torch which burns a few hundred degrees hotter. [Given the drafts of the chimneys servicing our stoves the use of a torch to start our fires is a significant time saver.]

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