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Agriculture.com Staff 02/12/2016 @ 10:07am

I'm very warm. I'm sitting in my office with my shoes off, curling my toes and soaking up the feeling of the warm floor.

And, I'm not feeling guilty.

That's actually kind of an accomplishment -- I can manage to feel guilty about almost anything. But a few weeks ago, we installed an outside wood burning boiler to heat the house. I checked the gauge on the propane tank and it hasn't moved in two weeks. So right now I'm not paying Middle Eastern terrorists, South American strong men, Texas oil barons or even Canadians (sorry about that, Canadians) for the pleasure of heating my home. I'm doing it by the sweat of my brow.

Well, actually, I'm doing it by the sweat of my son's brow, since he cut most of the firewood this summer, but I see no need to quibble.

I'm not even ruining the planet. I bought a model with an EPA sticker bragging about its top-notch efficiency. Since I've planted about 5,000 trees in my life, I'm way ahead on the whole carbon credit/global warming thing.

This isn't our first wood burning experience. A few decades ago, in the middle of the first energy crisis, we put in two wood burners -- one in the dining room and one upstairs in our bedroom. We cut and split mountains of wood, heaved it in a basement window into the wood room, and spent the winter carrying armloads up our narrow basement stairs, leaving trails of sawdust, bark, and ashes everywhere. It was nice not paying a heating bill, but the work got to be a little...like work and my wife occasionally yearned to have a clean house and perhaps one day dine in our dining room.

When our insurance company told us that either we had to stop burning wood or put in new chimneys, I chose to see it as an opportunity to find something else to do with my spare time. By that time the price of oil had dropped a lot and I didn't mind paying a little to heat our house.

This time, though, isn't even about the money.

Okay, it is about the money, but it's not just the money. I hate feeling like a chump, feeling like people I don't even know are taking my money and laughing at me while they do it. I hate feeling like having control of my life is out of my hands and that I need to depend on people I don't trust to keep my family warm in the winter.

Granted, it was an expensive solution. My checking account is pretty much empty and planning my schedule so I have time to throw wood in a couple of times a day is a little bit of a bother. On the other hand, the mess of bark and ashes is now a hundred feet from the house and I don't spend nearly as much time waving hello to the fuel truck. I'm striking a minor blow for energy independence and from here on out, all it will cost me is the sweat of my brow.

Or sometimes, the sweat of my son's brow. Even better.

Copyright 2008 Brent Olson

I'm very warm. I'm sitting in my office with my shoes off, curling my toes and soaking up the feeling of the warm floor.

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