James 2:16 – If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?
Hello Little Bend friends. Today I would like to blog about our new heating system! As most of you we live in Minnesota where it can get very cold and snowy during winter. In fact, just the other day we got 11 inches of heavy snow!
While this makes for beautiful scenery it can also be life threatening. We live out in the country and the electricity line actually ends at our place! So if we to ever lost electricity due to a storm whether snow, ice, or lightning as it has happened before we could be in trouble and we can’t expect the electric company to rescue us first! Yes we do have a generator for emergencies but it cannot run the whole house and we bought it mainly to keep the incubators running in the hatchery. Plus not to mention having enough fuel to run the generator for however long it takes.
When we moved to Little Bend years ago we did have a central propane heating system put in the house and the house also had a fireplace which we found extremely inefficient although quite romantic to sit around.
I found I got warmer cutting and splitting the wood for the fireplace more that the actual heat from the fireplace itself! The first year we used the furnace I burnt up all of our wood supply I had cut before January and the house didn’t get that warm unless you sat in front of the fireplace.
I had spent many nights wondering “WHAT IF”. How would I keep my family warm if there was no electricity? I could not rely on the fireplace as it was too inefficient to heat the whole house not to mention we had no cooking without electricity and it is not very nice to eat cold (or frozen) food! So I knew there had to be a solution for this dilemma and I needed to find it!
That’s when it hit me, if we practice heritage living like I claim I had to ask how did our grandparents heat their homes in the old days? The answer was the old fashioned wood cookstoves! Some of you you may remember these appliances from your grandparents home or seen them in old magazines.
Now I don’t know about any of you but I was pretty sure I was not going to convince my wife to give up her electric stove/oven and I didn’t think I wanted that either. However; the idea of having a wood cookstove for backup heat and cooking intrigued me (and my wife as well) and I had to look into this idea. So I got on the usual places like craigslist and local newspaper ads for one of these old cookstoves. To my surprise they were still out there! Unfortunately, these old cookstoves were well OLD! Many were in such disrepair and everyone wanted a NEW price for them. That idea certainly wouldn’t work. :(.
So through further research we found that there were many NEW wood cookstoves still being manufactured today so it was possible to make this dream come true. However; with every dream we needed to figure out what was best for us. So my wife and I sat down and made this list of what we needed from a wood cookstove:
1. A large firebox. The stove from olden days had small fireboxes, I wanted to be able to use all the wood I had taken the time to cut for the fireplace (about 18″) and I wanted to be able to throw in large chunks versus little pieces.
2. The oven had to be big enough to cook a 20 lb. turkey! I mean come on we are a heritage turkey farm and yes we do eat a lot of turkey.
3. I wanted a food/bread warmer as well. I wanted to have a place for keeping things warm. Also, I wanted to use the warmer for drying herbs, jerky, and other uses during the winter.
4. High heat output and efficient The stove had to be able to heat our WHOLE house which is around 2000 s.f.
5. Good looking! Let’s be honest the stove may sit idle for 6 to 8 months out of the year and it couldn’t be an eyesore or look like it didn’t belong there!
6. Good craftsmanship. It couldn’t be a flimsy cookstove, I needed it to outlast me.
7. Economical. Let’s face it I am not Bill Gates so it had to fit into our budget.
So with this criteria (and my wife’s blessing) I set out to find our new wood cookstove. To my astonishment there was a multitude of wood cookstoves out there and a lot of choices but I couldn’t find one that fit into our criteria list. UNTIL, I found a J.A. Roby CUISINIERE SE wood cookstove!
J.A. Roby Inc. J.A. Roby.com is a heating company in Quebec, Canada which manufactures heating products such as gas fireplaces, outdoor fireplaces, wood heating systems, and of course wood cookstoves. The CUISINIERE SE wood cookstove met all of our needs. Listed below are some specs to our criteria:
1. A large firebox. Log length is 19 inches.
2. The oven had to be big enough to cook a 20 lb. turkey! The oven size is 17″W X14″H X191⁄8″D
3. I wanted a food/bread warmer as well. The warmer is 46″W X 10″H X 12″D.
4. High energy efficiency. The stove will heat up to 2500 s.f. putting out 95K BTU/hr. It is rated at 88% efficient.
5. Good looking! As you can see in the picture I think the stove is gorgeous! There are many trim options that you can get as well to customize it as fancy as you wish.
6. Good craftsmanship. The stove weighs 580 pounds! It is a beast! It is made with cast iron on all the parts it needs which also lends to a good thermal mass! (more on this below)
7. Economical. It fit our budget.
Okay, so everything looked like a go. So last March when I felt relatively safe Spring was here and the cold weather over I demolished our fireplace to prep for the install of the cookstove.
So with the fireplace demolished we set out to get our J.A. Roby CUISINIERE SE wood cookstove and we found a dealer here in the U.S.A. named Obadiah’s wood stoves wood stoves.net. In fact, Obadiah’s is one of the largest dealers of many brands of cookstove – we actually used their website to narrow down our choice. They are based out of Kalispell, Montana and are some of the finest and most knowledgeable folks I have ever had the pleasure of working with! I worked with various people at this great organization but I want to especially give a shout out to Sarah Chain as she worked very hard for our business answering all my questions!
OKAY. OKAY. So enough talk! Let’s get to the CUISINIERE SE wood cookstove! First thing to say is I bought this stove for my family after careful consideration and I invite everyone to do their due diligence and make their own decision. I do NOT get any compensation for this review and my opinions are my own.
The stove was delivered to our garage via a freight truck and after some Minnesota ingenuity we got it installed. Obadiah’s supplied everything from the stove, the stove pipe and the chimney liner which only left us to get the stove from the garage to the basement.
I have been using this stove for most of the winter now and it has impressed me beyond all my expectations! The first time we used it (after burn-in) the lower level of the house got to 85 degrees! The oven got to 450 degrees! And I could get it hotter but there is no need. The other thing this stove has is what they call air dampner which controls the air that flows into the stove thus controlling the heat. Wide open is used for getting the stove going but then you turn it down to conserve wood and the heat output. Oh yeah and about the wood consumption this thing “sips” wood. I can fill the firebox up and it can last overnight, which is nice so I don’t have to get up to feed the stove all night. It has a glass door on the firebox so we can watch a beautiful fire while enjoying the heat.
So it does have an oven and yes we have used it and it worked wonderfully just like any other oven I think. I cooked a delicious garlic chicken in our cast iron dutch oven. When my wife got home from work supper was ready and I was able to work outside all day while it happened! And I used our gourmet garlic we grow here at Little Bend! I have yet to cook a turkey but I did cook a turkey breast and it was wonderful as well.
The only thing that may be a drawback (and only slightly) is the glass door does get a little sooty from many days of having the fire going. This is normal with any wood stove, just it’s more noticeable because of the glass.But it is not a big deal as every few days when I clean out the spent ashes I just clean the glass.
So in conclusion I want to include a video of the stove in action. Feel free to take a look at it. Also, I want to say I am very happy with the stove and I am extremely blessed to have it installed and running in our home. While this may not be for everyone it is for my family. I now go to sleep at night not worrying and very warm.
So as always….
God bless friends and we’ll gobble at ya’ later!