Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Keep the home fires burning

Dear Ranchsitter #7 (also known as Ranchsitter #2, #4 and Danni),

Thank you, thank you, a million times thank you for coming back to icy cold New Mexico so I can go visit my mom in 80-degree Florida.
It sure doesn't seem fair.

Since: a) this will be your first winter ranch adventure and b) I don't want you to freeze to death and c) I'll be gone by the time you arrive today and d) you've never used my woodstove and e) I didn't have time to write a blog post and write you a woodstove tutorial, everybody who reads this blog will now learn how to use my woodstove.

I will leave a large supply of wood in the Ranger, but there's plenty more where that came from. Just ask Ethel. 

One day I'll figure out how to fix that pesky pipe so it doesn't fall out of the thing. If it slides out, no big deal. 
The stove will work without it and not cause any danger. Just slide it back in place the next time the fire dies out. 

Here’s how I build my fires: Place two smallish logs on the bottom. 
Add three small pieces crosswise on top of them. Add bigger pieces for a third layer.

The starter things are on the shelf. Sometimes they’re hard to light so you might have to light them with a match. 
There’s a stash of starter things in the cabinet on the left.

Light the starter thing and place it at the bottom. Close the door and you’re done for awhile.
After 30 minutes or so, pull out the air vent and add wood as necessary. If you’re cold, push the air vent in so the fire burns hotter.
The thermostat outside the guest room will usually be in the high 70s at bedtime.
Add as much wood as you can before you turn in and pull the air vent all the way out.

In the morning, push the air vent all the way in and stir the coals – you can usually add a few small pieces and the fire will get going again, then add more as the day goes along. If the sun is out, the house will stay around 65 without the fire going, so I let it die out after the morning chill is gone. But you can keep it going as much as you want. The tricky part is finding a good time to clean out the ashes/coals.

There’s no way to clean out the stove without ash dust flying all over the place. So be it. 
There’s a steel pail on the back porch for the hot ashes/coals.

Smooch will be happy to help you.

 Put the full pail back out on the porch with the lid on it. The next day, dump it into the big trash can.

 If all of this seems like too much work, turn on the furnace instead.


I'll be away through Monday but I'll try to post an update now and then.
Otherwise, see you next week!


  1. Enjoy your Mom. You two need some good time to just hang out. Good for you for taking the time away! Good for Danni for giving it a go in the winter!

  2. but the fire is so much more homey and rustic ;) thank you for the fire building lesson. safe travels to warm Florida.

  3. Say hi to your mom! I'll be right behind you, as I have parents in Florida too.

  4. Have a Reeallly Gooood time in Florida with your Mom :) :) :).

    My mother has been looking at the weather maps and turning green because Florida is the only really warm spot she would travel to in the lower 48!

    KUDOS to Danni for flying in to house-sit, dog-walk, cat-hug and document some equine adventures! I don't mean to leave out the hens and Wynonna, hopefully they are hunkered down during all the extreme weather!

    M in NC

  5. What a wonderful friend...Danni you are a sweet heart to come and spend this time so Linda can visit her mom. What a sweet spirit you are...many hugs.

  6. Safe travels to you and Rock-In-Stormy-Waters Danni, greetings to your mom and best wishes always!

    I felt all toasty reading the tutorial - wish I had a wood burning stove!

  7. I know nothing about wood stoves, so the tutorial was very interesting. I do have one question about the starter things...Are you sure the correct name isn't "starter thingie"?


  8. I'm guessing Danni can't wait to come ranch sit again.
    She's not only a great friend, she's a Natural cowgirl!

    Looking forward to the pics!!!

  9. Great tutorial...we are wood stove people too. I build my fire the same way....and use the Firestarters nuggets. They are the best ones I have tried. I stacked one in when I build the fire and start it with a long match. So if you want to try another option they work great and come in a box of 100. They have been the no fail easy option...especially because I can skip the kindling.
    Lisa G in TN

  10. So happy that you will have a little visit with your mom! I know she will be relieved to see you so that she can know firsthand that you are mending. Having you there will be such a comfort as she moves.

  11. Carson, so glad to hear you get to go visit your mom! I'm sure this will be bittersweet without your dear ole dad there! I hope you gals have a lovely visit full of laughs and a few tears,. Safe travels my friend!

    Hi Danni, thanks for taking such good care of things at the 7 Msn! So glad Carson has you awesome ranch sitters! Hope all is well at Critterfarmgirl.
    Deb in Viola

  12. Safe travels and warm days for both you and Danni!

    Danni, no fly masks!! :)

  13. Good luck, Danni. I know that you are very capable. Enjoy your stay and keep warm.
    Great post, Carson. Now I need a wood stove. Our power fees will increase 33% in the next two years. Yikes. It doesn't pay to heat by electric elements. It's already expensive.
    Best always,

  14. I enjoyed the wood stove tutorial. Fascinated by them but never had one. Have a wonderful visit with your family and enjoy the warmth! We (me and my pug Pixie) will miss you and look forward to your return!! :-)

  15. Carson,
    Have a great visit w/your Mom! It's a blessing that Danni is able and fully capable of letting you go with no worries. Phew! what a relief, right? Danni, a word of experience..... that wood stove will run you out of there if given the chance. Those things work!

  16. Good to know in the event I get a wood stove :-)

    Safe travels, friends! I hope you have a blessed time with your family, Carson. And Danni, we look forward to hearing about your adventures.

  17. After reading your blog all these years, I now know a few things.
    1. Danni, You are the GREATEST friend a person could ever ask for.
    2. You and your Mom need this time together. A lot of healing will take place this weekend.
    3. If you ever need a ranchsitter #8 call me. I think I have the whole routine down. If not I could always refer back to past posts. :)
    Hugs to you and your Mom. And you too Danni!

  18. Enjoy your visit with your Mom. We all know the ranch will be in good hands. Thanks for the tutorial on the wood stove. I'd LOVE to get one for our house.
    ~~~Cheryl Ann~~

  19. Have a wonderful time in Florida. I'm sure your mom will be thrilled to see you. We're on our way there, too, but you will beat us by a long shot! We limit our speed to 65 mph and try not to drive more than 6 or 7 hours each day. Texas is BIG!

  20. Safe travels! Enjoy your visit with your Mom. Danni - we're rootin' for you out there on the frozen tundra. If all else fails, you may be able to cozy up with Wynonna in her comfy palace and share body heat. Okay, maybe not...

  21. Safe and pleasant trip; I hope you and your mom have some special moments sharing wonderful memories of your dad.

    Welcome Danni - I hope the weather, the animals, and the woodstove cooperate for you.

  22. I'm so thankful for this tutorial and actually quite excited to give it a go! Like everyone else here, I wish you safe travels, Carson! And don't worry about a thing (I mean it!). Everything will be fine.

    And another adventure!


  23. Please enjoy some time with your mom. You truly have the most awesome friends. Be sure to travel safe and know we will miss you!

  24. I hope you have safe travels and have a wonderful visit with your mother.

    Danni-you are such a great friend to Carson. Thanks for helping her.

  25. i wish you much good luck if you decide to build a fire, # 7.. make that 007 and you will need those 00's to help you read and understand this post.. all else fails lie down with the donkeys. LOL

  26. Whew ....there is a furnace!

  27. I hope you have a nice trip and so nice that you have a helper to be with the gang while you are away.

  28. Hopy you have a wonderful visit with you mother and family. I know it will do Mom a world of good to see you, and you her. I'm also sure everyone will be thinking of Dad. Prayers, Rita

  29. Oh yeah, I TRY to enjoy that 80 degree weather!

  30. DITTO to what everyone else said! Have a wonderful & *warm* early holiday with your mother!


  31. happy stay in Florida, healing time. 7Msn is in good hands!

  32. Danni, what an amazing friend you are to Carson !!!!!!!

    Carson, you and your Mom and sister must be looking forward to this visit so much

    Hugs to all !

  33. That wood stove is the best! So cozy and warm
    Danni- that's awesome that you could ranch sit again... I am kinda jealous but will live vicariously through your visit.
    Can't wait for your photo's and oh yeah yours, too

  34. I miss my stove but do NOT miss cleaning it out!!!