Keeping warm

Our house is quite big and old, so keeping warm during the winter is going to be a challenge. There are five fireplaces in the house. There is a fireplace in the living room and a wood stove in the study (which may become the new living room until the renovation is done). The other three fireplaces are in bedrooms and closed up. We had the two functional chimneys cleaned a few weeks ago and have already cranked up the wood stove a few times since.

There is lots of wood in our yard. There are some huge heaps around the garage which had been there for a long time so there's rotten wood, leaves and mummified rats (really! - two so far) all mixed in with the good wood which often hasn't been chopped. These wood heaps trapped all the dead leaves which then trapped moisture and this has rotted the fence and garage so there is good reason to clean them up. The biggest stack of wood went all the way down the side of the garage and up against the back fence. In fact it wasn't until a few weeks after we moved in that we even realised there is a wood shed next to the garage under the oak tree as it was hidden by all of the wood. After several months trying to tidy up the main wood heap, I finally admitted defeat and hired a uni student to help out.We both spent last Saturday working through what was left and we can now start restacking all the wood we pulled out and chopped.
Wood from the big heap of wood waiting to be restacked
This whole area was covered in wood and leaves when we moved in
While it was very satisfying to get this done, there are still smaller heaps behind and on the other side of the garage that need to be cleaned up and plenty more wood lying around the yard. We're not going to run out for a while.

The side of the garage roof near the wood shed has an oak tree growing over it and this has landed a lot of junk on the roof and in the gutter. (The other side of the roof has a walnut tree growing over it). So while we were at it I also cleaned the garage roof and gutter, and cut back some of the oak branches hanging over the roof. You can see from these photos that the gutters had been neglected for some time - there was stuff growing in them!
The gutter was overflowing with leaves and acorns.
The woodshed roof was thick with sticks, leaves and acorns.
One of the really funny things about this yard is that it breeds garden tools. A few weeks ago I bought a block splitter to split the big pieces of wood in the wood heap. While we were cleaning up the stack of wood next to the garage we found another two splitters which had been left there over the years. One of them is still definitely useable, the handle on the other one looks as though it's seen better days. This continues the tradition of finding a garden fork, watering can, leaf rake and secateurs so far while tidying up the garden.

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