Living in the Old Farmer's Almanac in April 2013
If you were asked to name the most important appliance in your home, what would your answer The television? The computer? The microwave? With as many household conveniences as we have, it might take a bit of thought. But, if the same question were posed to someone a couple of centuries ago, the answer would have undoubtedly been the woodstove.
Before woodstoves became mass-produced in the mid-1700s, the fireplace was the center of the home. It provided warmth, a place to cook, and an area for family and friends to socialize. In early America, your house was often referred to as the "hearthside".
Woodstoves proved a huge advantage over the fireplace. They used less wood and didn't blacken walls, and their flat top provided a convenient cooking surface. Because they projected out into the room, they provided much more even, radiant heat.
Over the years, wood fuel gave way to other sources of home heat, such as oil, natural gas, and electricity, but the energy crisis of the 1970s sparked a revival that continues today. wood is a renewable resource, and modern woodstoves burn it more efficiently than early styles and release fewer emissions. with today's high fuel costs, the woodstove may again be the most important appliance for many people in cold climates.
SKY WATCH ☆ The Moon meets Jupiter on the west on the 14th. This is the final month for easy viewing of the Giant Planet, which has now faded to magnitude -2.0 but is still the brightest "star" in the heavens. The Moon comes extremely close to the blue star Spica on th 24th and then passes to the lower right of Saturn on the 25th. Both rise at around nightfall. Saturn, with its rings now beautifully "open" (meaning not tilted edgewise to us), has its opposition on the 28th, when it can be seen all night. This is Saturn's brightest and best opposition of the past 6 years. Visible through any telescope, Saturn lights up the otherwise dim constellation of Libra.