The heat of a fire starts with a match. The best matches are the wooden kitchen variety, or long fireplace matches. Wooden matches burn more slowly allowing you to place the flame carefully and accurately.
Three types of fuel are used - tinder, kindling, and logs. Tinder is highly flammable and is the first ingredient to catch fire. Good tinder includes uncolored newspaper, brown bags, wood chips, and the tips of dead pine branches. Next in line is kindling. Kindling is slower to ignite, but when it does catch, it burns long enough to set the logs on fire.
The best logs come from dense, strong deciduous trees called hardwoods. Hardwoods include oak, maple, ash, beech and birch. Fruit and nut trees such as cherry, pear, and pecan are hardwoods that burn well and emit a wonderful fragrance.
Softwoods such as pines and spruces are easier to ignite that hardwoods. They contain resin which is an extremely flammable substance. By burning these resinous logs, you would have to stoke the fire constantly. Resin, also, never burns completely and pollutes the aire while collecting on chimney walls forning creosote. If enough creosote buildup occurs, balls of fire could come shooting into your room or onto the roof.
Freshly cut wood is "green" or full of water, which makes it burn unevenly - hissing, squeaking and spewing smoke. Burning dry wood produces less smoke and ash. It takes six months to a year to dry wood properly. If you observe tiny radial cracks along the cross-sectioned surfaces, the wood is dried correctly.
Air must be present in the fire's assemblage. Build a structure of kindling and tinder that is compact enough for the flame to move from piece to piece, but loose enough that there is air space throughout it. Since fire burns upward, larger kindling should always be placed above the smaller bits, so that it catches fire from them.
With proper materials and techniques you can make your fire las throughout the long Indiana winter. So, wrap up in a warm quilt and enjoy the roar of a sizzling fire!
- Ann Wolski
They're "dandy" but deadly
- Ann Wolski
They pop up when you least expect it. They can overrun your yard with a sea of yellow and though pretty to look at, they can destroy all other living things. The origin of the dandelion is not known but probably came for Central Asia. It's name is a mispronunciation of the French "dent de lion" or "lion's teeth."
Dandelions have been the source of many old legends and beliefs. It is said that if the seeds are blown away by the wind in early morning, there will be good weather. If the seeds leave the stalk without having been blown by the wind, it will rain. If you can blow away all the seeds in three puffs your mother does not want you home. However, if any seeds are left, hurry home fast! After blowing hard count the seeds that remain to find out how many children you will have.
The English used dandelion roots as a spring tonic and was said to purify the blood, benefit the liver and help with rheumatism. The Irish used the dandelion as a tonic and cure for heart disease. The juice when rubbed on warts, supposedly, caused then to disappear.
Every part of a dandelion - leaves, stem, flowers and roots - are edible. Dandelion greens are an important source of vitamin A. Sauteed dandelion buds can be used in omelets; the petals in sandwiches; the stems and blossoms for making wine. By roasting the roots, dandelions become a coffee substitute and sometimes mixed with coffee. The roots contain a substance that is used as a laxative. The roots of a species of Russian dandelion produces latex from which rubber is made.
- Ann Wolski
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