Saturday, November 22, 2014

Staying safe and warm this winter

It is rare to have any heating on in the house before the onset of November and unlikely that heat is needed after April. We have two sources of heating, log burners (one in the lounge and one in the studio) and diesel central heating which also heats the water. We rarely use the central heating apart from taking the chill of the house if the log burner hasn't been lit for a while. The insulation in the house is really good and once warm, it retains an ambient temperature for a good 12 hours. This is despite the high ceilings and open stairway. 

We source our wood from a local merchant who needs reminding from time to time that we want mixed wood with oak, cut to an appropriate length and where possible dry... and we occasionally need to remind him that we are locals and want a good price. Luis is very good at negotiating and setting out terms and conditions (a formal way of saying - "if it's no good, we won't accept it and you will have to take it back"). To save having two different sizes delivered we split and cut the larger logs ourselves so that we can use it for the smaller log fire in the studio.

When possible, we try to keep a year ahead with our wood store so that when we come to use it we can be assured that it is dry and it will burn more efficiently.

Our wood supply is supplemented from time to time by fallen apple, cherry or hazel that is gifted to us by neighbours. We never refuse as wood is expensive here and if we didn't collect it it would probably be burnt in situ and wasted. We have a good chain saw, axes and log splitter but we are very aware that there are dangers when operating such machines, especially a chainsaw. A couple of years ago Luis almost lost two fingers when a lapse in concentration by the chainsaw operator and poor technique resulted in the saw driving over his gloved hand, cutting through the leather and slicing deep into his flesh. Fortunately, both fingers healed well.

We always wear chainsaw gloves, goggles and ear defenders when operating a chainsaw but we are very aware that our home-made saw horse is not ideal. I recently came across a piece of equipment called a Log Master. Having watched several Youtube videos, it seemed like a good investment and something that would significantly reduce the possibility of accidents (and back strain) when using a chainsaw. We have just acquired one and will unpack, assemble and use it in the very near future. We will report back in a subsequent blog post.   You can read more about it here and watch a short film: Log Master

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