The Morsø wood stove has been a good companion giving warmth with only minimal maintenance. But why wasn’t there a place for it other than the living room and why is it called “Squirrel”? We struggle with these bushy-tailed rodents at the bird feeders. We would rather not have a reminder of them interrupting our “warm and comfortable”. (The Morsø is of Danish origin. I downloaded a brochure from the Morsø website, but it didn’t give much help on using the stove, partly because it was written/translated by a person whose first language was not English.)
The smallish Morsø (25” wide by 14” deep by 52” high) was in the living room when we purchased the house and finding another location for it was questionable. Previous owners had closed off the rest of the house from the living room with folding doors to retain heat and probably used very little heating oil.
Our adventures with the stove, included an insurance company’s demand to replace the brick wall behind the stove, to finding out from the guy that delivered wood from “Jake’s Firewood” that there was no Jake, to having a gathering entertained by birds that had fallen down the stove pipe. We, with the guests, heard rustling and scratching in the stove pipe. By the time the guests had left the noise had stopped, so we did nothing. The next time I removed ashes, I removed two dead sparrows along with them. When our home insurance was to be renewed, we were required to have a home inspection—this was five years after living in the home and safely using the stove. The inspector said there was not enough space between the stove and the flammable material in the wall behind the stove. The brick wall behind the stove was not enough. The options were a new stove or having a wall built behind the stove with an inch of air space between the new wall and the established wall. We could not find a side-loading stove at a reasonable price, so we chose the wall.
Getting a fire started
It took a while to learn how to get a fire started. Although I grew up on a farm where there were many trees to produce wood for firewood, Dad an early riser, always had the fire started when I got up. I occasionally added wood to the stove, but do not remember starting a fire. I had learned of the “Boy Scout” method of putting in some kindling and gradually adding larger pieces once the smaller stuff was burning. Later someone told me about the top down (or in my case front-to-back) method. In an enclosed area like a stove, as opposed to an open fire, this works quickly. My stove has a narrow fire box. So, I place at the bottom of the box, two or three pieces of wood (20” long and 4” to 9” wide at the widest side). Then I lean half a dozen or so pieces of twigs or other kindling against the logs. The next part is two to four “newspaper knots” made by opening up a double sheet of newspaper, rolling it loosely, then tying in in a loose knot. To speed the fire along, I have ready several more newspaper knots to push in as necessary. The Morsø has a very good draft which makes starting a fire fairly easy.
Getting more wood
For the first few years, wood supply was not a problem. An ash tree stood just to the south of the area where we hoped to have a garden. The trunk was more than thirty inches in diameter. Taking it down was a good idea for several reasons. First, the garden area more sunlight now reached the garden. Second, we had plenty of firewood for several years.
A year or so later, a neighbor’s large crab apple tree fell onto our yard, causing only the grass any damage. The neighbor expressed her appreciation to us for cleaning up the tree and also to a friend down the street. He had a large oak tree taken down. The tree company wanted $100 for hauling the wood away. I agreed to haul the wood away for the several pickup loads of wood. That lasted us another year. I think we scrounged firewood another year, so that it was nearly ten years until we needed to buy firewood. One source was a special deal to get several pickup loads from an area where firewood had been stacked. We could take as much as we could get in two loads for a price well under the going price for firewood. In quantity, we got a good deal. In quality, not such a good deal. That brought us to Jake’s Firewood. We were disappointed to learn from the guy that brought the wood that there was no “Jake”. The pieces of oak “Jake” delivered were from logs rejected from a nearby paper plant. Some of them were too big for my stove, so I was thankful a friend to help split the wood to save my back. Thanks, Dennis.
Pricing firewood is a problem. Some sellers want to sell by the pickup load. When one seller told me, he was selling me half a cord, I realized after the wood was delivered that I got only a “face” cord. (A full cord is 4’ X 4’ X 8’. A face cord is half of that (2′) or maybe only 16” deep.) Jake’s Firewood brought the wood on a small dump truck. I measured the size of the truck bed and the height the wood was stacked, but the curve of the top of the load made any estimate of the amount of wood questionable. The wood was fairly dry and the size of most of the pieces just right for my stove. I think I got a good deal!
Getting the stove clean
The stove pipe for the Morsø goes straight through the ceiling and attic to the metal chimney. Since the stove burns clean, there is seldom creosote or ash to be cleaned out of the pipe or chimney. I have a set of brushes to clean the chimney. (I use a wire brush to clean the chamber above the firebox). But the last few years my strength has, apparently, diminished to the point that I am unable to pull the brush out of the chimney once I push it down. Then, too, my partner doesn’t like me to be up on the roof. So, the chimney cleaner is coming soon. The ashes will go to the back of the garden between the compost pile and the forsythia bush. If the scant blooms on the forsythia is due to excessive nitrogen from the compost pile forty feet up the hill, the potassium in the ashes may give us more forsythia blossoms. So, use of the stove brings beauty as well as warmth.
Now, when we are ready to leave the Morso behind, I find that I am glad to leave behind the back pain that kneeling to lift the wood slabs into the stove produced. That and some other associated physical challenges makes easy leaving the Morso to younger folk. The “squirrley” presence in our living room seemed strange, at times. But, we have enjoyed the warmth the Morsø has provided.