Country Living Series

Thursday, December 11, 2014

An early Christmas present

On Tuesday we took possession of something very large and heavy... my early Christmas present!

Specifically we received a Baker's Choice wood cookstove, purchased through the regional brokerage Obadiah's Woodstoves in Montana.


This was not a spontaneous purchase. It required much thought as well as saving up the money for its purchase. However a cookstove is, we feel, a critical part of a self-sufficient household.


Right now the only source of heat in our house is our beloved antique parlor stove. It does a wonderful job heating; however it's located in one corner a distance away from the rest of the house.


We cluster around it during cold weather, of course; but it also means the other side of the house can be quite chilly during a cold snap.


We had purchased an antique wood cookstove a few years ago, a lovely little piece in excellent condition. Unfortunately it was missing several critical parts, parts we would need to get custom-manufactured before it could be used. A new cookstove has been at the backs of our minds ever since.


Consider this passage from the book Better Off by Eric Brende: "I noticed in nearly every local kitchen a big black, shiny cookstove with a little insignia on the front bearing the words 'Pioneer Maid.' It was an invention of two Amish brothers from Canada, and it was more than an ordinary stove. It was the first-ever application of the principle of airtight combustion to wood-fired cooking. This made it the only notable advance in wood cookstoves in at least one hundred years, probably since the introduction of cast iron. Besides being efficient, the stove was versatile It could cook, bake, maintain a hot water supply, dry vegetables, and heat 2,000 square feet of living space all at the same time. For the local housewife, it was an all-purpose appliance that met most of her heating needs at the touch of her fingertips."

I think it was this passage, more than anything, that made us realize an antique cookstove -- however beautiful -- would never be as efficient as a modern air-tight version.

This line of cookstoves comes in three sizes: Baker's Choice, the larger Pioneer Maid, and the slightly fancier Pioneer Princess. Two of our neighbors own Pioneer Maids and love them. We had neither the space nor the need for the larger versions, so we decided on a Baker's Choice.

When we ordered the stove and placed our deposit, we were told there was a backlog and a waiting period (they're very popular stoves!), and couldn't expect delivery until late December or early January at the earliest. So imagine our surprise and delight when, last week, we received a phone call that the stove was on its way!

Tuesday morning the freight delivery driver called for specific directions to our house. I went to the end of our driveway and peered down the road, anxiously awaiting his arrival.


At last the truck hove into view. The driver later told us he had some scary moments since his truck was sliding badly on the mud coming up the hill.


We were under strict instructions from Obadiah's to inspect and photograph the stove before offloading it, with the right to refuse shipment if it was damaged (by, say, a forklift tine puncturing the side). The driver (a cheerful bespectacled fellow) had delivered these stoves before and knew the routine, so he joined in the inspection.


We noted some damage to the box...



...so we lifted the box off and looked at the stove itself.


We examined it from all sides, and it was in pristine condition.


So we reboxed it and the driver pulled it onto the lift gate.



Then, using a neighbor's tractor with a forklift attachment, Don carefully slid the tines under the box...


...and lifted up the stove. (By the way, the neighbor who owns the tractor was with us, watching. He described me as "giddy," which was dead-on accurate.)


We wished the truck driver a Merry Christmas, then Don transported the stove toward the house.


We parked it in the barn for the time being.


In part because it was delivered early, we're not ready to install the stove in the house just yet. Thankfully we already have a stove pipe extending upward through the roof (remnant of an earlier stove installation from our house's previous owners), so we have no other option where to place the stove.


Once Christmas is over and we remove the tree, we'll move the hoosier hutch to a different spot and install the stove in the hoosier's place (we can't put the stove directly in front of the window, of course). We'll have to construct a fireproof pad and backing as well as get the necessary piping to connect with the ceiling pipe.


So for the time being, we wait. But our neighbor is right: I'm giddy with anticipation and can't wait to learn the art of cooking on a woodstove.


Thank you to my darling husband for my Christmas present!

30 comments:

  1. This man has an interesting blog about woodstove cooking. You might be interested. http://woodcookstovecooking.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you, Jane!

      A McSp

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  2. So exciting! I look forward to hearing your adventures in learning to cook on a wood stove!

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  3. totally and absolutely cool. Please keep us posted as you install it and learn how to use it. I would be really interested in the hot water feature.

    Carl in the UP

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  4. Pretty exciting! I look forward to your pictures of installing it (hint).

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  5. Congratulations! Jealous of course, but happy that you got it.

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  6. That is quite a Christmas present - I hope you give him something nice in return!

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  7. Reminds me of two years ago when I got my cookstove. I bought a Kitchen Queen 380 since it has the largest hot water reservoir I could find (17 Gal.). To describe me as "giddy" when we started to unpack it would be a huge understatement! I have to say though, my stove came packaged a lot sturdier than yours; it was crated in 3/8" OSB with 2x4 corner reinforcements. It took two of us about 15 min. with a prybar just to get one side off. Of course there was no damage whatsoever. I'm glad you bought from Obadaiah's, they have the friendliest and most knowledgeable customer service folks I have ever dealt with and the best prices, too!!
    Kyle MacLachlan

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  8. Merry Christmas, Patrice! I can't wait to see your further adventures with the cookstove :)

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  9. Am so happy for you, especially that you & husband are "on the same page" on this purchase. For the past 3 years, my husband & I have discussed wood stove vs cookstove for our basement heating and back-up cooking needs. I wanted a cookstove like yours, he wanted a Blaze King stove. In the end, the huge firebox, long burn times and efficiency of the Blaze King wood stove won out; it was our big fall purchase. I can't bake with it but have already done some cast iron cooking on the surface. I guess I can always dig out some coals to put on the top of my dutch ovens for baking, camp-style. Merry Christmas!

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  10. How fabulous! I'd take one of those over fancy jewelry ANY day! (I'm apparently too practical for romance.)

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  11. She's a beauty! Walk us through the transition a bit in future posts, if you could. I'm interested in how the switch goes. We're going to get one, too, when budget permits. I'm kind of hoping you'll be my guinea pig by proxy. ;)

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  12. My grandparents, (well grandmother anyway :) ) still cooked on a wood stove when I was a kid in the1960s.

    You could look up the "Victorian Farm" BBC series on YouTube.
    They use all 1890s equipment for the series, and the kitchen scenes are pretty interesting.

    When I move away from the big city in a few years, I'm going to add items like this so I can enjoy modern conveniences yet still have resources if need be. I'd say that the ability to cook food definitely qualifies as a resource.


    - Charlie

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  13. How awesome! I have been "shopping" for one of those for over 10 years. I have the "Woodstove Cookery" and have read it several times. I am hoping in the next year or two to get my wood cook stove. What an awesome Christmas gift. Merry Christmas! I look forward to seeing your posts on setting it up.

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  14. How wonderful. I am so happy for you.
    Good luck with your new adventure.
    andy

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  15. YAAAAAYY!!!!!!

    Merry Christmas, Patrice!!

    Can't wait to see that bad boy in action!

    A.McSp

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  16. OH, I am so happy for you and can't wait to read about the installation and tips for successful usage. Our plans are to build an apartment in our shop and the Pioneer Maid (from Obadiah's!) is on our list. I am going to revisit our selection, based on what you write; perhaps we do not need the larger version.
    Our transition from wood stove to cookstove happened when the driver of a transport van my husband was riding in was telling how her "thoughtful" children and grandchildren had surprised her with a new electric stove and had her wonderful wood cookstove removed while she was at work. She was distraught to say the least…
    Husband picked her brain for the rest of the ride and called me to say that we must consider the multipurpose benefits of the cookstove!

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  17. OH, I am so happy for you and can't wait to read about the installation and tips for successful usage. Our plans are to build an apartment in our shop and the Pioneer Maid (from Obadiah's!) is on our list. I am going to revisit our selection, based on what you write; perhaps we do not need the larger version.
    Our transition from wood stove to cookstove happened when the driver of a transport van my husband was riding in was telling how her "thoughtful" children and grandchildren had surprised her with a new electric stove and had her wonderful wood cookstove removed while she was at work. She was distraught to say the least…
    Husband picked her brain for the rest of the ride and called me to say that we must consider the multipurpose benefits of the cookstove!

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  18. Soooo jealous and happy..heck I am giddy for you...my kind of Christmas present!!

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  19. What a wonderful gift. My wife and I have considered a large purchase a gift to both of us because of the cost of the purchase. It is a very nice piece and I especially like the fact that it can burn wood or coal. Congratulations!

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  20. We supplement our heating and cooking with a 1924 Charter Oak wood cook stove that was my husband's grandparents stove. We love the cozy warmth it produces. But your beautiful new stove will be so much more efficient! Enjoy!

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  21. So jealous. I'm still cooking on my 1940's antique. Works ok but oh - so inefficient. sigh It was on the docket this year but got pushed back by our daughter's wedding.
    Congrats!!!

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  22. Oh my goodness, she's gorgeous!!

    Let us know how it works out. I have been eyeballing that very stove with something frighteningly close to lust in my heart for a couple of years now...

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  23. I know you will be happy with this. The Baker's Choice is a good stove. We have had ours for 6 years. I really enjoy cooking on a wood stove. The size of the firebox also makes it good for heating our house...our only source of heat.

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  24. We have been using our woodcook stove for cooking and as our sole source of heat for 3 years. LOVE IT! I have even learned to use the canner and pressure cooker on it.

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  25. Absolutely beautiful! I am thrilled for you and envious at the same time. Can't wait to read about your new learning adventures with this stove. Blessings, Kat

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  26. You will LOVE cooking on your stove! We have a wood cook stove and I do love it. It takes a little getting use to but it's not hard. I'm so happy for you!

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  27. Greetings,

    I happened across your Blog and I love it. Thanks for the great info on the Bakers Oven and the link to our website. Just wanted to let you know we will be posting your Blog under our "Friends" section on our newest website, "The Cookstove Community" a place dedicated to wood cookstoves and the folks who use them. We have assembled all my videos here and also have a forum for folks who want to sell their old cookstoves, share recipes, or ask tech questions about their cookstoves. http://cookstoves.net/

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