Friday, January 29, 2010

Wood Burning Cook Stove

At my cabin, I cook and heat the place with a wood burning cook stove. It’s a fine old stove, a Home Comfort made by the Wrought Iron Range Company of St. Louis, Missouri. The company made cook stoves from 1864 to 1940. Salesmen sold them all over the country, especially in the Midwest.

I bought the stove in 1970, used of course. Let’s say it was one of the last stoves the company made, in 1940. The stove was but a youngster in 1970, a scant 30 years old. Today, 40 years later, the old stove is a senior citizen. But like a bunch of other 70 year olds I know, it’s going strong. It’s a little rusty here and there—but the grates are fine, the oven works and it burns wood today as well as it ever did.

And what a wonderful heat it provides. Sure, if you are in a hurry to cook something my old stove would probably send you to McDonald’s. But hurry is not what my cabin is about. My cabin is about slowing down—doing slow cooking, sometimes very slow cooking. But I must say, and I know it’s my opinion, homemade soup cooked on a wood burning stove is just about the best thing you could ever put on the table when the snow is piled high and temperature hangs down there around zero. I can smell it now.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Watch the sun set when the temperature is below freezing. The sky is steel blue that turns black as the sun sinks away and the thermometer plummets.

WRITING WORKSHOP: The dates for my writing workshop at The Clearing in Door
County for 2010 are August 8-14. Contact for further information.


Oakwood East Community Center, Madison. Saturday, February 13, 9:30 a.m. (Delta Kappa Gamma—Educational fraternity) (Stories from the One-Room School)

Eau Claire Farm Show, Eau Claire Indoor Sports Center, March 3, 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. (Stories From The Land)

Aldo Leopold celebration, Lake Geneva Public Library, March 6, 10:30 a.m. (Old Farm and Ames County novels.)

Wisconsin Studio, Overture Center, Madison, WI, Sunday, March 21, 1:30 p.m. (Old

UW-Baraboo, “Add Learning to Your Life” workshop for those 55 and older. March 25, 11:30 a.m. (Stories From the Land) Call 608-355-5234 for further information.

Westfield Public Library. March 31, 12:45-1:30. (Ames County Novels)


My Faith in Christ said...

Jerry, I enjoy your newsletters immensely, and especially like the one about Home Comfort ranges.

My grandpa sold Home Comfort ranges in the northern Wisconsin area, I believe in the 1940s, after he and Grandma moved from the North Dakota prairie to Range, WI (near Turtle Lake) when he retired from farming. He never did like farming, preferring to sell things. Selling the ranges was one of his favorite jobs.

I have a picture of him in a lineup of other salesmen, each with his horse and buggy. They traveled the countryside separately at a leisurely pace, their conveyances a real advertising beacon.

The new owner of one of my grandpa's Home Comfort range always received a small, toy-sized replica of the range. I don't know where my grandma's ended up -- I wish I had it.

My grandpa was undoubtedly a good salesman, since he had the reputation of being a good story teller. I have fond memories of him. When my twin sister were about 7 or 8, he taught us how to say the alphabet backwards. He also taught his other grandchildren, and many of us taught our own children. To this day, we can rattle it off in about two seconds!

Grandpa's dad was a whaler out of New Bedford, and had his own great stories to tell. My mom, who died in 2003 at age 97, wrote many stories about her beloved "Pa." She published many articles and stories, and won the Jade Ring for one of her life stories. I'm following in her footsteps in the world of writing, having published a juvenile book, "Williwaw Winds," numerous freelanced articles and stories, and countless stories as a former journalist.

Thank you for your interesting email columns. I look forward to reading them.

Blessings to you.

Sally Bair

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Wood is among the cheapest of fuels, especially if you have the ability to cut your own wood. In this case, your only cost would be whatever permit is required by your local government, usually a nominal fee. Even if you buy your wood from a local supplier you can usually get a price that is better than home heating oil, or natural gas, and certainly cheaper than electric heat. Wood burning stoves have the added benefit of using a renewal resource, wood. If sourced locally, wood is a very green fuel. There is a reason that you see those cords of wood stacked up outside many a house these days. It just make good financial and environmental sense.