I feel like a smoker who is trying to give up and who has fallen off the wagon.  Although our range isn’t really suited to wood, and is 50+ years old, a few alterations and it has burned pretty well, with one slight snag – the quantities that it consumes. Admittedly we’ve had to manage with whatever we could, so it’s not great firewood, but by any standards it has been a lot. This makes cookery into an art form, as you juggle pots and pans with the need to constantly feed the hungry fire below.
After a couple of frosty mornings, and with the words of the Esse man ringing in my ears I cracked and bought 2 bags of coal.  Immediately our oven is hotter than we’ve seen it, and even the radiators are hot. Five whole hours went by without having to load more fuel.
“Never mind the smell, I said, Think of the heat”. Having loaded more fuel and taken a couple of good lungfuls of coal smoke, I wasn’t so sure. Then the dust, which although you can’t see it, seems to get everywhere.
Did I mention the smell? So far, our house has been surrounded by the gentle smell of woodsmoke, now replaced by something altogether more ‘industrial revolution’. We are in danger of being dragged into the nineteenth century. I am torn – the environmental impact of using coal, both in terms of it being a non renewable, and in terms of it making us cough, goes against everything we stand for, but then I wonder whether if that is worth it until we have enough wood seasoned to give us a supply that will burn well. I’m starting to think not, and that I’ll just have to carry on spending my days gathering fallen timber from the woods, until the day when we can find (and afford) a more economical wood fired range.
Postscript – We hooted with laughter, watching Ruth on Wartime Farm, saying how desperate folk combed the woods for any sticks they could find. Welcome to our world Ruth. 

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