Old Wood Stove

If you can’t clean it…

Was reminded today of cleaning the old wood range, if cleaning is even the right word.  Unlike stoves of today, these old ranges had iron tops, not glass and plastic.

Of course that made them heavy as hell too, but a benefit was that you didn’t have to be gentle in the cleaning.

Rather than soft lotions and creams, we used to whack on the comet cleanser, and get a drop of water mixed with it and scrub it with the old waterproof sand paper, better known to us as waterpaper.  In the old store we ran in Apsey Brook, we used to sell this by the sheet for just this purpose.  Everyone had a wood range and everyone used this to clean it. I guess we weren’t really cleaning it as much as we were sanding it out, but it did the trick.  Just took some elbow grease.

Anyway, short post tonight, but while it was fresh in my mind, wanted to get my memories of water paper down.

Wood for the Winter

There’s no heat that’s as cosy as a wood heat.  I posted before about the old wood stove, and how comforting a heat it gave off.  While the old stove has faded from use in favour of the electric range, many people still use wood for their wood furnaces or 24 hour burners.  Back home, getting your wood usually means do it yourself.  There’s not a ton of hardwood on Random Island, a few stands of birch and maple, so most people’s winter wood is fir and spruce.

Bucksaw (Picture by Eric Cooper)

Bucksaw (Picture by Eric Cooper)

Typically we’d go in in the fall of the year and cut what wood we needed for the upcoming, or perhaps even the next winter. We’d lay a few sticks length wise to keep the major portion of the wood above the damp ground, and then stack it as you see here to start the drying process.  We’d leave it in the woods until winter, as there was no easy way to get it out before.

Once winter came, we would hook up the horse to the old slide and off we’d go.  Of course the horse has been mainly replaced by the ski-doo and atv’s now, but the slide remains pretty much the same.  Once it was out, it would again likely be stacked closer to home, but left untouched till spring and summer.

Once it got warmer, we’d break out the old saw horse, and start cutting the wood into junks.  When I got older I used the chain saw, but before I was allowed to handle it, the old bucksaw had to do.  It was actually more fun, if slower with the bucksaw actually, just something about using it.

We’d then usually stack the wood outside again, maybe on a few slabs to keep it off the ground, and let it sun dry for the summer.  Once it was dry, we’d split the larger junks with an axe, and stow it all in the woodhouse.  Typically we’d have piles going right to the beams.  I can still remember dad’s admonishments to alternate big ends and small ends so it wouldn’t tip.

Am nostalgic for it now, but I have to admit it was hard work, and there was little I hated more as a kid than the chore of filling the woodbox and cleaving splits every evening. Oh yes, splits! Well I guess nowadays people call it kindling and buy it in bags at Irving! But back then we took slabs (a topic for another day) and propped them up and split them into, well splits for our kindling.  I actually enjoyed making those, just not so much bringing the wood in.

The Old Wood Stove

The huge storm back home in Newfoundland got me thinking about how nice it is to be hunkered down with a nice wood fire when a raging blizzard blows around outside.

There was always just something different about the heat, hearing the wood crackling and popping.  When I was younger, most everyone had an old wood range similar to this one in their kitchen, with a wood box nearby.  I can still remember the names things had, damper, lifter, poker.

We’d open up the firebox either with the damper on the top, or from the door in front to feed in wood and slabs.  The oven would be stogged with bread baking nearly every day, and water on the side in the tank staying warm for washing, or whatever else.

The kettle was always on, and always full, and ready for a cup of tea, and underneath the oven, our ski-doo boots would be warming or drying after we’d come in from sliding on the old coaster, or making forts and tunnels in the drifts.  Up top our mitts and socks and vamps would likely be drying in the warmer.

One of the dampers often had multiple rings, and we’d have one open with the old wire handheld toaster over the top, toasting some of the fresh homemade bread and coating it with butter and molasses.

Seems like others remember too, I saw this range when I was looking at appliances this past fall.  Nice to be able to keep the old alive with the new, though a bit out of my price range.