November 25, 2006


At the Beginning of the Road

By Dane Sorensen


Summer is quickly becoming a distant memory in Ely, although in much of the nation highs in the 70s is still the norm and not a wish. Thus is our fate for being a suburb of Canada. Owning a dog that has a life long ambition of marking every tree in Ely I often take Reggie out one last time late at night. The other day, well, actually night, we went for one final walkies before hitting the hay and to my surprise as he strutted down the sidewalk I could spell smoke. Not just any smoke the smoke of burning wood.

I thought it was odd that here on a blustery late October night that I could smell a forest fire. Especially since it had been raining all week. I looked about and saw at least several homes with smoke slowly rising from their chimneys. It is then that it struck me that these homes must be using their woodstoves.

As Reggie and I sought out more trees for him to water, the sweet smell of burning wood continued to follow us. We kept noticing more and more chimneys with dancing smoke climbing slowly up.

It seems that many in Ely are working hard to free themselves from oil dependence. They are using wood to deprive the Arabs of a chance to bleed us of all our dollars for another barrel of oil. Good for them!

I have noticed at places like McNards and L&M and other sellers of home equipment, that they are displaying more woodstoves than what I have seen in other years. Not only wood stoves but pellet and corn stoves. I know there has been a lot of publicity on corn, but I personally do not think it is a worthwhile technology. First off, I find it hard to take food and use it for fuel. Secondly, with the rising demand for corn for gasohol the current low cost of corn will not last. In fact, the market price has risen over a dollar this fall. For us in Ely, it really does not make sense to haul a bunch of corn home and growing it ourselves is wishful thinking. From what I have seen these corn stoves also cost 5 to 10 times more than a good woodstove. If I lived in Jackson, Minnesota - which is ten miles from Iowa - it might work to burn corn, but I think corn will be a short-term fad.

Those fancy pellet stoves also seem way overpriced for a fuel source that you are dependent on buying from pellet manufacturers. I would think that the costs would be lower than corn as pellets can be made of almost anything; sawdust, crop residue, or recycled newspaper. Again, living in Ely means getting the pellets may be the biggest expense. I think the only sensible choice over oil or propane is good old wood for Ely.

There is no doubt we will continue to see the price of oil bounce around. There are too many negative factors to push up the price compared to any positive forces to keep oil cheap. As long as we have to buy much of our oil from Sheiks and Marxists we will continue to be over a barrel. As long as we delay building nuclear power plants and restricting oil drilling we will have to continue to buy from others who have no problem with drilling into their territory.

As a new member of the "wood not oil" crowd, we are doing our bit by heating our home with wood this year. We did not get an early enough start on this project to be fully ready for winter, but we will make a big dent in our fuel oil bill. For those who have been burning wood for years - you were the futurist of Ely.

The one nice thing is we did get some free energy in the mail. We found political advertising has a very high BTU rating due to the BS factor. The only problem is political energy doesn't last and doesn't smell as good as wood.

I invite others to switch to wood. It is good for you. Everyday you will get some well-needed exercise carrying in your daily supply of heat. Also, I think it is sometimes more beneficial and educational to watch a fire burn rather than the TV. So I hope others join the energy revolution by heating with a very renewable resource. Heat with wood and freeze an Arab!



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