For three years it kept us warm; we cooked on it, we baked on it and we dried our clothes on it but with the rise in wood prices (supply and demand showing that as many flocked to wood burners it drove the price of wood up) mean we decided to go back on the grid. It's a bit of blow, and part of us is sorry to see it go but it has come down to a simple equation, space to store wood vs space to grow food. There is no denying that such systems need a lot of wood, and that wood needs plenty of space to store in a dry place.
We have problems finding a dry space on a hillside on top of the Pennines. Wood stored outside even in a log store gets wet because the air is wet. The rain can drive in with such force that our sheds, all lovingly sealed, cosseted with storm shutters can fill with water after a storm. Puddles abound in doors and outdoors. This has a terrible effect on wood stores and wood drying out for a year can in the space of an hour be back to square one in the drying stakes. Wet wood should never be burnt. It came down to another problem too. We have over the years found sites in Autumn and Spring that we visited to forage wood after summer or winter storms, we took only what we needed but over the last year these sites have sadly given way to rural housing or worse still have been cleared of wood by like minded foragers. Poor foragers have started to strip spots around us and we have found ourselves having to get in the car to do our foraging, we defeats what we are trying to do when we have to use petrol to do it. We use to contact tree surgeons who willingly gave us wood to avoid tipping charges but with the rise of wood burners some of these tree surgeons have cottoned to the fact that there's money in selling the wood. This has also had an adverse effect, with some individuals being unscrupulous, we have seen a rise in wood being sold to the public which is largely green, damp and useless for burning. Wet wood, if you can get it lit, will damage your chimney. However, we still forage enough wood, from forests and from skips, to run our wood burner in the front room but there is not enough of it for both.
We've replaced the oven with an energy efficient gas cooker and we are off setting this by using only green suppliers. So we bid farewell to the first thing we did at Pig Row and welcome a new chapter where we have more space to grow in the lower garden, and the old wood store area will now become an area for chickens.