Outdoor Wood Burner/Wood Pig


It’s been a long winter.  As I write this on March 3rd, it’s 11 degrees below zero F.  I’m tired.

I’m back to hand-to-mouth wood cutting.  Everyone who burns wood says they’ve burnt way more than normal.  I need a bigger pile next year though, because the crusted snow in the woods makes it nearly impossible to drag in logs.


In a bit of serendipity, I met an old schoolmate who burns wood also.  I told him I had an outdoor wood burner.

“Oh, you’ve got one of those wood pigs, too!”

“What’s that?” I said.

“It really goes through the wood, doesn’t it?”

He’s right.  I’ve finally realized that an outdoor wood burner is not a very efficient way to heat a house.  However, it is a safe way to heat a house and I’m stuck with it for now.

He told me about a lumber yard that sells scrap lumber for twenty bucks a bundle.  They’re good-sized, eight to ten feet long, dry wood.  He burns it in his burner.

Not being a fast thinker, I had to let the idea germinate for a few days.  I think I gave myself permission to buy wood when I nearly got the tractor stuck for the umpteenth time.

I called him up and asked him to bring me a load and he delivered eight bundles.  If I’m not reading the calendar wrong, that should be enough wood to get me to the point where it’s hot enough I’m forgetting how cold it’s been!


9 Responses to Outdoor Wood Burner/Wood Pig

  1. Bob Conis says:

    Hi Matthew,

    I really feel for you all in the mid-west. Our temps have been about ten to fifteen degrees warmer than yours and I am ready to throw my hands up and quit. I don’t know how many times I can stand having frozen fingers and feet and windburned cheeks. I can’t imagine how you’ve been dealing with it.

    I would like to offer some good spirits and say that it’s almost over, but I can’t. I’m convinced it’s never going to end!

    Just keep trudging away!

    — Bob

  2. Doug says:

    Don’t feel guilty, this Winter has been really cold!

  3. adunate says:

    We burn wood also, although our furnace is a basement attachment to our gas furnace. We use wood for about 95% of our heat. Yes, we’ve gone through more wood than usual!

    Ours is 20+ years old and as we begin to think of replacement we toy with the idea of an outdoor, simply for the sake of safety, handling the wood less, and freeing up room in our basement. Yet, we too hear they use much more wood and they don’t produce the same cozy warmth as an indoor. Do you agree?

    I’m interested to know what type of furnace your friend has?

  4. Thanks Bob and Doug.
    Adunate, I’m not sure what type of furnace he has. Mine is Nature’s Comfort. You can set them up to be more efficient than mine is because we have a drafty old farm house and we like it warm so the fan in the basement runs nearly non-stop. We also suck heat off by heating the front porch with in-floor water.
    That being said, if you’re at all worried about running out of wood, it would be more efficient to keep the fire in the house. I really do appreciate the safety of not having a fire in the house, though.

  5. […] but we’re really hoping that mother nature will cut us a break next time.  All of us wood-burning farmers are getting a bit tired of the […]

  6. We have a wood pig too – and haven’t lit it since moving in three years ago because it just doesn’t seem to make sense. Small burner, metres and metres of ducting into high ceilinged and draughty rooms. It’s more insulation, draught proofing and blocking up any un-used fireplaces for us this year – but I feel like such a wimp after reading your post. Temps rarely drop below zero, we have to drive an hour to get to the snow line and our winter is very short. Thanks for a little bit of perspective! Charlotte

  7. Thank you, Charlotte! I checked out your blog and will be returning for a change in my perspective.
    Charlotte writes and farms in Australia.

  8. Daniela Dhaliwal says:

    Hi. I write from Austria. .
    There is a safe way to heat a house with wood, apart from the very efficient Pellets and woodchip burners. Older houses specially in the alps have Kachelöfen ( tiled clay set hearths) often fed from the hallway to avoid dirt in the living room or Stube. They can be organised to heat a whole house, upstairs and downstairs by using the heat / smoke in a system of pipes. Much more efficient than heating the winter away outside. And really very common.
    with winter greetings, Daniela

  9. Thank you, Daniela! Greetings to you in Austria. Very fun to receive your comment.
    I found many images on the web of what you write about and it does look nice and warm.

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