Well, it’s been a heck of a winter. Work finally brought me home to the upper Midwest last year, so I bought an old family farm in BFE because people suck and nosey neighbors are terrible. House started as an old single room with cellar and front porch. House was built in 18-something-freaking-old, and has been added on to at least 6 times. Apparently in 19-something someone had the bright idea to attach the cattle feed barn to the back of the house. Then years after the dairy barn was built out across the drive, the old barn and milk room were renovated as part of the house now. Yeah, the fiancé was already “thrilled” about where and how we were living, and now knowing that our kitchen and dining room are in an old cattle barn, well, you can imagine. In the house was a circa 1994 Vermont Castings Dutchwest 2462. Given the awful price of propane and that my best friend’s family farm was only an hour away, I decided wood was going to be the primary heat. So I dismantled the stove, redid the door seals, scrubbed the flue and chimney, and fired her up. Was new to wood burning, and followed the owner’s manual a bit too literally. Cue: “Oh God, get the bypass closed! It isn’t supposed to be open for long!” Quickly discovered that the cat and refractory packaging were bad, and replaced those. Fired her up again and ill-be-darned if the stove didn’t hit 1400F in under an hour and light off the chimney. Learned the response time of the local volunteer fire department that night. Good guys, and the sheriff deputies enjoyed playing with my German shepherd. So, called in a pro to look everything over, basically said there was nothing wrong and that any chimney fire would have been minor and simply cleaned out the flue (from burning under temps on the bad cat). Was told to “let her rip,” so in late December I fired her up and kept her warm. Quickly learned that taking the wheelbarrow out to the barn for a load of wood every night is annoying. Also, storing a small amount of wood inside to warm up and fully dry out in the super dry indoor air seems to help the burn. Then the true cold hit. There are now straw bales wrapped in plastic all around the entire exterior foundation and infrared space heaters placed in the crawl spaces aimed at pipes. Only took one frozen pipe to dictate this. Then the extreme cold hit (-30+) and I was reloading the stove every 3 hours. Between the stove ripping, the LP furnace going, and the space heaters, we marginally maintained 62F. Wood sourcing is no problem for me. I started logging at the farm back east at home for field expansion in November, and will have the equivalent of 40-50 chords stashed in my back barn by April….and im not even halfway thru logging yet. All of this dictated new chainsaws….plural. My little Farm and Ranch ms311 is a beast, but I was running it like a raped ape and felling 36”+ trees with a small saw is neither optimal nor truly “safe.” So, I now own an MS661 and have an MS462 on order (the more I log, the more local farms want me to log their areas, so the saws are truly an investment). In the logging process, I couldn’t bring myself to hack beautiful, straight, hardwoods into firewood, so I bought a partially built sawmill and finished it so that I can mill my own timbers and boards. All of this then necessitated multiple chains, bars, and the purchase of bar oil by the case. Then with the sheer time im putting on the saws, parts galore to keep them running well (my local Stihl dealer loves me). I got a crash course on the new M-tronics as well as tearing a saw down and rebuilding it when the 661 ran into issues….there went money for a new control unit and fuel solenoid. Then, tired of always getting halfway thru a tree then stopping and walking away to get a wedge, I figured it was time for a kit load out to keep everything on me. And, not liking the age of my current plastic hardhat, now in the market for a steel pot. Weeks later, I understand exactly why fellers and loggers use everything they do (tape measure is ridiculous, and loggers tape is a dream!). So here I am in March now. Not even really the end of the season, and I’ve already burned 6.5-7 chords for a collective maybe 90-100 days of run time. Clearly this stove is a hungry monster. I have holes burned in the carpet from embers, a mangled tool box in the truck from hauling wood, two saws in the truck that the fiancé does NOT know the true price of, a lawn mower engine powered chainsaw mill in the barn, a new-to-me trailer for hauling trees and timber that the fiancé also does NOT know the price of, and the need for more barn space to store cut and split firewood for drying. The fire department now knows me well, the local chimney sweep is awaiting my call this summer for installation of a new stove that doesn’t eat wood like cookie monster eats cookies, and within a year I need a bigger truck and trailer to haul full 8’-14’ sections of timber for milling from the increased logging work I am now doing. Oh, and given the fiasco of everything, the propane tank has been filled twice now as well, at $800 each time, which is what I was trying to avoid in the first place! On the up side; selling a few timber sections of cherry and black walnut should offset most costs incurred…..I hope. And by goly is that 661 worth every penny that it costs. I have also managed to get back into the shape I was in late high school at this point by swinging the 661 with 36” bar around and humping out logs on my shoulder to where equipment can get to them. All in all, felling and logging is truly enjoyable work. So, does this all sound about right for “first year of wood burning” and cost of such? Also, I would not mind suggestions on a new wood stove for the house to get this old hungry VC out. Currently looking at the Blaze King Ultra models. And I am truly grateful for this site. The untold hours of research and reading I have conducted here have helped immensely throughout this winter when I was running into problems and second guessing decisions. So, i want thank you to all and express my gratitude.