Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fuel For Heating and Cooking

Fireplace Wood, Stove Wood and Kindling

I grew up on a small farm consisting of 280 acres (+-) four miles north of Millry, AL on a dirt road, with no power from a power company, no telephone, no indoor toilets, but a house full of love.

Daddy was a farmer/engineer. While he was farming, he had two main field hands, Dennis Turner and Tommy Land who worked on our farm.  Dennis was a tall, heavy set man that didn’t appear to move very fast, but he put in as much or more than anyone else with his steady gait.  Tommy was a little shorter and was muscular and went at his work tasks in at a rapid pace, but his work yield just couldn’t quite measure up to Dennis’. 

This was quite evident after all the field crops were “laid by” in mid-summer, wood cutting took place.  They would cut wood in two lengths, one for “house”, fireplace wood and another length for stove length wood.  After cutting the trees, mostly oak for the house wood and oak, ash, and some pine for the stove, they would haul it in to the back yard and unload it under two huge water oak trees for splitting. 

Dennis would go at his steady pace while Tommy would go at his faster pace.  Dennis’ pile of wood would be larger than Tommy’s pile at the end of the day. I think Dennis’ size and weight enabled him to split the wood with fewer strokes than Tommy’s.  

After the splitting was done, the stove wood was stacked in even, level stacks along the west side of the garage building and under the wood shed.  The house wood was stacked along the east side of my grandfather’s old medical office building.  It was also stacked very level and even.

I would usually make a game out of as much as I could.  So, I’d use my little red wagon to haul the stove wood form the woodshed to the back steps. Once, Daddy made me some “standards” (stanchions) so I could haul up to 50 sticks of stove wood in the wagon.  (I guess I spent more energy pulling the loaded wagon through the sandy yard than it would have been to “tote” the wood in from the woodshed!) Then I’d fill up the wood box on the back porch by the kitchen door. 

At times, the wood would be “green” (not seasoned) or would get wet from rain, so Mother would put several sticks of the oak wood in the old Home Comfort stove’s oven after dinner to let it cure or dry faster.  By doing this, it gave a great flavor to biscuits, etc. that were baked in the oven.

When I was small, it was my older brother Joe’s job to get the house wood in and fill the box on the sleeping porch, near the “room” door. (the main bedroom that had a fireplace )  My job was the stove wood.

The other wood we used was “lightered. (kindling)  This was heart pine that was rich in very flammable tinder used to start fires.  Daddy and the hands would go out in the “piney woods” and haul in the lightered in late summer, the “fatter” (richer), the better.  Then someone would cut it in short lengths and split it in finger sized pieces to use in starting the fires in the stove or the three fireplaces in the house.  

Also, lightered was used to cook out cane syrup at the cane mill.  So, it took quite a bit of it to be prepared for the house fires and the cane mill.

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