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Heating, Cooking, and Domestic Hot Water

Real homesteading is the management of a meaningfully productive piece of land. "Radical Simplicity" is three unproductive wooded acres that were sold off by a logging company after they removed all of the timber that was worth anything. A dozen chickens (fed with bag feed) and a goat (that is not even milked) does not make a homestead.

A homestead will provide you with your water (a well), your heat and hot water (firewood from your woodlot), and most of your food (milk cow, pastures, gardens, field corn for feed). Well, to do all of that means you must have a water well, a woodlot, a pasture, and a hayfield—not to mention a wood cook stove (and the previously mentioned wood-fired hot water kettle, otherwise you are just another dependent "Prol" pretending to be homesteading). And a hayfield is of no value unless you have all of the necessary haymaking equipment and a place to store the hay (a barn).

First: A wood cook stove. How are you going to go "off-grid" without a wood cook stove? Propane kind of violates the principle, doesn't it? How are you preppers going to survive a winter when the grid goes down? With a rocket stove? I guess rocket stoves are OK for hermits living alone in a bunker with two tons of baked beans...but for people with a family to provide for the rocket stove thing is just plain silly.

So back to wood cookstoves. I like "Ashland," "Kitchen Queen," and "Pioneer Princess" (and no, I did not receive any compensation for saying that). These stoves will set you back about $2,500, not including stove pipe and "thru-kits" (to pass through walls and roofs) and are all Amish made.

This is Ashland Stove Company's latest. The "Ashland Deluxe."

Here is a photo of the Kitchen Queen. They have a websitekitchenqueenstoves dot com.

I do not recommend trying to cut corners and buy a used stove (I tried that). Cracks in cast iron simply cannot be repaired. The welds just don't hold—and we are talking about equipment that holds fire and produces smoke (and carbon mon/dioxide). But if you truly know what you are doing, and stay clear of the old cast iron stoves and shop around for an Amish stove, and you can get the parts to rebuild the firebox... you can get the older Ashland stoves (with their much smaller fireboxes—good for cooking in late fall/early spring without making the house too hot. Not big enough to put out enough heat in the cold of winter without risk of damage) for about $1,000.

Here is a photo of the older Ashland model.

The hot water saddle-tank on the Ashland sits on the cooktop surface while the tank on the Kitchen Queen and Pioneer Princess is set back off of the surface and rely on a pipe going through the firebox to heat the water. These pipes eventually clog from calcium in the water crystalizing when heated, melt, burst, and leave 20 gallons of ash soaked boiling water on your floor. Or you can change the water pipe every season (if you remember). We have an Ashland Deluxe in the house and a Kitchen Queen in our guest house (which does not see as much duty time and hence no clogs in the pipe yet).

For a single person or a childless couple, you might be able to get by for domestic water with just the tanks on the wood cookstove with a couple of 5-gallon stock pots and not buy the hot water kettle. I don't know why you would want to do this to yourself... but you might be able to.

A wood cookstove is of no value without an ample supply of free (or cheap) firewood. If you heat and cook with wood, a real homestead will go through 5 - 10 cords of wood each year, and even a "Radical Simplicity-stead," with an aging single person, will go through three cords. (I say this as a cautionary tale to all of the 50+ single women I saw on Facebook homesteading groups who were ready to take the plunge: Are you really ready to cut, split, and stack that much wood? And then carry it to the house in all kinds of weather all winter long? I beg you to look before you leap.) If you don't own a woodlot, you will have to purchase firewood. And purchased firewood is not inexpensive when you factor everything in, and might not be available in emergencies. So noodle that a bit before you make any commitments. 

If you are interested in homesteading and would like to visit our community, leave a comment. First things, first. Get a copy of my book, "Prosperous Homesteading" at Amazon. Read it five or ten times. Then come for a visit.

#Wood Cookstoves, #Real Homesteading, #Debt Free Living, #Homesteading


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