Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

"If she weighs the same as a duck... she's made of wood." Logical Peasant, Monty Python and the Holy Grail

The Sun at Noon, 1/28. As you can see, even now the Sun (like the UPS man) can’t really find our house except by accident. This makes me wonder why Fairbanks stores stock sun screen during the winter. You can click on the picture for larger Sunny goodness.

The shortest day so far at the Wilder Ranch was December 21st. That’s a matter of simple geometry and celestial mechanics. The coldest day so far, however was –51F on the 26th of January.

Regular readers know that the Wilder house is heated entirely through three sources:
  • wood,
  • children outputting heat during tantrums, and
  • dogs panting.
It’s wood, though, that is at issue today. You see I made a little miscalculation.

I started the winter with over eight cords of wood. That doesn’t mean that I had wooden cords with which to bind my children, no, it means that I had 1024 cubic feet (each cord of wood is 4’x4’x8’) of wood, or, the equivalent of a ten foot by ten foot room stacked nine feet high, filled with wood. That appears to be not enough, since I’m now down to a half of a cord of wood cut to fit my Earth Stove™. Looks like I’ll need 14 or 16 cords to make it though a winter in the house.

I’m not going to complain. Inside, we keep the house quite warm. It’s a log cabin, so there is no insulation other than the foot-thick solid wood walls between the outside and us. I figure that we use about 1.3 million Btu’s (a Btu stands for British thermal unit, devised by Monty Python to calculate the heat put off by burning witches, and is the amount of heat required to raise one pound of witch one degree F) of heat on a day that it’s –51F outside. I would have to burn 9.5 gallons of heating oil to get the same heat, at a cost of about $25. Instead, being the frugal guy I am, I have The Mrs.

Since The Boy is too little to get wood (for about three more years) I have devised a cunning system to get wood to the house with little or no effort myself: I let The Mrs. do it. Having the incentive to keep herself from freezing to death, she bundles up and trudges out to the wood stack and will get load after load while I’m out and about playing with friends, eating Cheesy Poofs and generally not getting wood. It’s a good system.

I spoke to her when I looked out at the thermometer. It read –48F.

Me: “Hey, wood stack by the door is getting a bit low.”

The Mrs.: “Yeah, I was going to get some today, but I thought –30F was too cold.”

Me: “Hmmm. Supposed to be –50F tomorrow.”

The Mrs.: “Yeah. Miscalculated that one.”

Me: “Bet that’ll be cold. Do you know where the Cheesy Poofs are?”

And, it probably was cold. In truth, she does bring most of the wood up to the house, and did so last year when she was thirteen months pregnant. She never complained a bit. My guess is that Superman wears pajamas with pictures of The Mrs. on them. Also, when she gets wood, she complains less about pushing a wheelbarrow through snow at –50F than I do when there isn’t ice in the ice tray in the freezer. I hate not having ice in the tray, but don’t get me started.

So, we’re nearly out of wood that is cut to fit our stove. The good news is we have another eight cords or so of wood that just needs to be cut up into suitably sized pieces, since our wood stove isn’t eight feet wide. The bad news is that I’ll have to cut it into two or three foot long chunks. Outdoors. In February. In Alaska. One piece at a time.

Hey, is that The Mrs. I see inside, eating Cheesy Poofs?


Blogger The Mayor said...

You, Sir, are a lucky man! I gather you already know that, though! If I was a single man living in Alaska...(lucky for you I'm a married Woman living in Oregon!) I'd snap her right up!

6:21 AM  
Blogger Dame Koldfoot said...

John, my friend, you are treading on dangerous ground by letting the Mrs. to bring in all the wood. While she may not complain to you, I'll bet she could get hotter than 3 witches at the stake when you sit on your keaster, snidely commenting that it's cold and munching on your cheese poufs. If you don't step up and share in this duty, pretty soon the Mrs. will be thumping your frozen hiney all over the place. Wood hauling is a good workout and Alaska girls kick butt. Mom's only have so much patience with laziness, whether it's kids, canines or spouses***

Mrs., let's ditch the guys, kids and dogs for a weekend and head to Anchorage for some fun!

***The above is only good-natured jesting made with no intent to imply, intimate or insinuate relational conflict. If I've offended, burn me at the stake.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its time the Mrs learns to chop wood on her own. Not to strike the wrong chord or anything, but you know the old story, feed a fish for a day or teach someone to buy beer at the store...

Of course I always talk big when I'm alone.

12:21 PM  
Blogger Duck Hunter said...

Along the same lines as what Dame said, I would appreciate it if you could measure the BTU's coming from the Mrs. after getting wood from the pile.

4:44 PM  
Blogger John said...

I am really lucky. Scary lucky. I'm the guy who looks for silver, and can't find it through all the gold that keeps coming up. The Mrs. is all gold. And, all mine!

dame koldfoot,
Oh, I share, but in a sort of lame way.

As far as ditching me and Mr. Koldfoot to hoof it to Anchorage, I certainly shan't be an impediment.

No stakes necessary. If you and the kids are bored during the Superbowl(TM) then come on over.

You know, I can lead The Mrs. to wood, but I can't make her split. After she saw the gash in my jeans from my carelessness with my chainsaw, well, she won't touch that. (Chainsaw, not jeans).

She refuses to buy me beer. It kills me a little inside.

Speaking of beer, when you coming up for one?

Believe it or not, she's nice and warm and comfy inside the house after getting wood. When its 70 inside and -50 outside, the 120F temperature difference makes you feel warm. Really warm.

I tried to do the math on that, but The Mrs. was rather prudish and wouldn't let me measure (through drawing a grid with a sharpie on her) the number of square inches. I could estimate, though . . . .

9:14 PM  
Blogger Woofwoof said...

I've been reading the Alaska book by Dick Proenneke. I guess the fear of frozen death is great motivation to go chop wood.

2:40 AM  

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