Friday 29 September 2017

Michaelmas and Free Heat

Whosoever eats goose on Michaelmas Day
Shall never lack money his debts for to pay.

29th September is one of the Quarter days when farm tenants would pay their rent and farm workers could change jobs.
The traditional meal for the feast on this day was a roast goose, fattened on the stubble fields after harvest.

Another saying  for the 29th is
If St Michael brings acorns down, snow will cover the fields at Christmas.

We've already had a lot of windy weather this month and some chilly evenings  too
I thought we had plenty of wood in the shed to last us through, but we've already had the woodburner alight a few evenings. Luckily, since this photo was taken Col has cut up more of the logs that were taken down last March  and we have tree surgeons due to cut down more Ash later in the autumn so plenty of wood.

This is the well known poem to remember what to burn...................

Beechwood fires are bright and clear
If the logs are kept a year,
Chestnut's only good they say,
If for logs 'tis laid away.
Make a fire of Elder tree,
Death within your house will be;
But ash new or ash old,
Is fit for a queen with crown of gold

Birch and fir logs burn too fast
Blaze up bright and do not last,
it is by the Irish said
Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread.
Elm wood burns like churchyard mould,
E'en the very flames are cold
But ash green or ash brown
Is fit for a queen with golden crown

Poplar gives a bitter smoke,
Fills your eyes and makes you choke,
Apple wood will scent your room
Pear wood smells like flowers in bloom
Oaken logs, if dry and old
keep away the winter's cold
But ash wet or ash dry
a king shall warm his slippers by.

No mention of Willow which we have a lot of, but stored at the back of the shed for next winter.

Back Tomorrow


  1. And the day farms changing hands traditionally complete....

  2. We burn mostly poplar because that what we have growing on our holding boundary and occasionally one comes down. Not sure about the bitter smoke but is does burn through rather quickly. Still, it's free.

    1. We have lots of poplar which need the tops cut out sometime.

    2. We removed two Poplar trees some years back and now burning. Not noticed any smell!

  3. Willow...probably considered to carry too much water to mention. I can imagine these traits were more important in times of no chimneys and just the hearth in the centre of the room. The smoke could well have been toxic. I appreciate a mixture of wood in the woodburner. Pine to get it going, ash to get the temperature up, then oak for an overnight stint. Of course when I was solid fuel Rayburn cooking this was more important. Love pictures of wood stores...easily pleased me!! x

    1. A good mix is the best way to go for a woodburner and no smells either

  4. We have ash in our strip of woodland and they are so much taller and straighter than the beech and oak planted at the same time 25 years ago. Could you plant a few ash saplings at the bottom of your Meadow for wood in 10 plus years time - they really do grow that fast.

    1. We have several ash already around the edge of the field and most of our store is ash already cut and now with Ash tree die back disease I'm not sure young trees would survive. We planted 125 ash at the smallholding and they all got the disease very quickly.

  5. You can't beat a good wood store, ours is looking pretty bleak at the moment, but the wood is mostly cut and stacked all over our woodland.

    1. Hope you get it stored before you get too much snow!

  6. Ash is wonderful for burning in our solid fuel range. We buy smokeless solid fuel to gain extra heat for radiators, hot water and cooking.

  7. It must be very satisfying knowing you are going to stay warm this winter.

  8. Wish I had a fire. Sigh. Love the firewood poem. Really interesting! Have a great weekend

  9. We have acorns all over the place and the leaves are still green though dropping.... we'll see if we have snow on the ground at Christmas!!

  10. My old father in law used to say that Larch warms you four times - once when you saw the tree down, once when you saw up the logs, once when it burns on the fire and once when you go dashing round the room stamping out the burns on the carpet.

  11. In Australia we have Ironbark which is so dense a log can burn all day. you have to have other wood in there to assist to stay alight....wonderful stuff. Our turpentine trees however do not burn at all!

  12. We burn a lot of maple here, but also birch and other hard woods. Never soft woods due to the oils and the risk of chimney fires. A good wood pile is very comforting. -Jenn

  13. Never seen that poem before, makes for an interesting read.
    Keep cosy,
    Lisa x