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14 cords of wood, from Canada.

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by rowerwet, Sep 27, 2009.

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  1. rowerwet

    rowerwet Minister of Fire

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    took the kids on a field trip Monday (one of the joys of home schooling) to Lexington and Concord, MA, turns out today was the 50th of the founding of the park and lots of things going on. Some of the old houses from that time period were open that normally aren’t, inside they had people dressed for the revolutionary war period. We got talking about the fireplaces in the house and he mentioned that on average 14 cords were needed for the winter (from the records of the house), and that those 14 cords would keep the house in the 50s or so, the hardest part to believe was that the whole area had been cleared and was being farmed so that the wood had to come in by ship and wagon from Canada! Seems that buying wood (pellets in my case) from Canada has a historical precedent.
    Does reinforce the old time adage that “ when your wood pile equaled the size of your house you were ready for winter”, and why so many ancient houses in ME are equal to about a quarter or less of a modern house.

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  2. branchburner

    branchburner Minister of Fire

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    Yup, and some other not-so-modern features that helped save fuel: low ceilings and fewer/smaller windows. I live in one of those old (1720) center-chimney capes and we tried to keep the house warm by fireplace during a power outage a few years back. We were plowing through the wood and still only warm right by the fire. I realized the only way they could do it was basically burn 24/7 in all 3 fireplaces. Once that big thermal mass in the middle of the house was up to temp you sure didn't want to let it cool off. All that brick is quite a heat sink. Thanks to insulation and the EPA stove, I can keep heated with about 4-6 cords instead of 14. We do a little better than 55 F, too.

    It does seem hard to believe that wood was that scarce in eastern MA by the late 1700s, but then I think of all the wooded land surrounding me: stone walls run everywhere, meaning it all was farm land at one point.
  3. Burn-1

    Burn-1 Feeling the Heat

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    I spoke with a historian in my area a few months ago and he was saying the wood budget for one of the larger Colonial era homes in our town as probably somewhere between 20-24 cords per year because an additional several cords were needed for cooking. Almost everything was cooked over an open hearth or in beehive ovens near the fireplace.
  4. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

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    I can imagine going through 14 cords - I'm not saying this is acceptable nowadays - but I can imagine it. I can imagine getting it done myself.

    I cannot imagine going through 14 to 24 cords without a chainsaw and hydraulic splitter.

    I am assuming that we are talking about full cords.
  5. Valhalla

    Valhalla Minister of Fire

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    Some folks use a lot of wood. 10 to 15 cord is not unusual.

    I try to burn a lot smarter, than in years long past. It reduces my work (back) load and net carbon footprint from our house.

    Burn wisely and safely!
  6. YZF1R

    YZF1R New Member

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    It amazes me to look at old pictures from areas I know. It looks so different. Hardly a tree in sight. Everything cut. I saw on a TV program that in colonial times and such, all the free time you had was spent on the wood supply. You couldn't hardly ever have "too much". It must have been a muddy mess around small towns. Of course, the railroads used tremendous amounts of wood also. Pictures of where they were being built or run are often void of trees. Wood was for almost everything. Structures as well as heat and cooking. And things weren’t too efficient back then. And heaven forbid if you were injured. Or had a rotton tooth. Or got an infection. Ah yes, the good old days.

    Steve
  7. Deep Fryer

    Deep Fryer Member

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    Very interesing Rowerwet, thats is pretty amazing, thank you for sharing. Makes me wonder what they would think of our society now with families keeping the house at 75-80* (which is not uncommon). Bet you they had a better nights sleep than many people do nowadays, I believe there have been studies suggesting that people sleep better when the house is a little cool at night, just need a good comforter.
    I always felt a bit uncomfortable raising the thermostat past 69*.

    Some of todays monster homes are just incredibly our of whack, 6-10,000 sf homes are not uncommon in many places, & usually these homes are for a couple with maybe two kids, everyone has to have a private bathroom & walk in closets the size of dens :lol:
    I like the older American homes, smaller w/a high cozyness factor.


    Yeah, good point, man that would be rough. People were tougher back then, had to be, you had no choice, its either rough it or freeze your buns off.
  8. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    A few city folks might have tried Ben's new invention, the Franklin fireplace, but most of them has open fireplaces. The heat loss was huge. In one of our ancestor's home in mid-NY state, we got a tour. There was a complete second kitchen and fireplace in the basement. In winter they lived there because it was easier to heat. Kinda gloomy, but you did what you had to do to stay warm.
  9. weatherguy

    weatherguy Minister of Fire

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    I wonder if they were more comfortable with a rumford fireplace and if they used less wood. I met a woman in northern mass that lost power in last years ice storn and heated their house for a week with a rumford, it was a newer fireplace in a reproduction home, she said it was around 60 on the first floor for that week.
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Insulated house? Storm or double-pane glass? Caulking. Old houses can be pretty loose.
  11. cmonSTART

    cmonSTART Minister of Fire

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    Ya, we complain about stacking our 6 cord per year. At least I do. The only way to keep those houses livable in a New England winter then was by brute force. Burn as much as you can.
  12. CowboyAndy

    CowboyAndy New Member

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    i think someone mentioned it earlier... they all did this without chainsaws and hydrolic splitters. cross cut saws and axes... that was it.
  13. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    They only heated a few rooms also, and the family would stay around the fire.

    A contractor rehabbed the original homestead in the area. They found brick internal walls. Once they got hot from the fireplace, they would stay warm. I've also heard about finding river rocks in the walls.

    Matt
  14. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Some places in CT used sawdust in the walls. Not a bad idea actually, worked for the ice houses.
  15. ckarotka

    ckarotka Minister of Fire

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    I love this discussion because yesterday after 7 years of marriage and wood burning that my mother-in-law is appalled that my wife has to sometimes start and maintain a fire when I'm not home. I know that men folk are not the only one burning past or present.

    She says "the kids rooms aren't warm enough and it doesn't work that well" Well I hate to tell ya sister that the main house is 80f when I open a window to cool it down and the kids rooms are 68-70f.

    Yet every time she comes over in winter she always walks right to the stove and warms up.

    My wife is no princess, never was. We don't like to pay for something we can do ourselves with a little effort like heat our home.

    Plus "WE LIKE IT", and it teaches our kids how to work and some responsibility. I have two little wood stackers and one in training ages 5, 11, 1. Maybe a-little reminder of how things use to be would be in order.

    Rant over, thanks for reading. :coolgrin:
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