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A how much of what now?


Are we back now? Excellent. Thank you for indulging me. For posterity’s sake, the anniversary header image can be found here.

And now back to your regularly scheduled weaselin’.

The stuff in the picture is similar unto the stuff we burn in the stove for heat. It’s like charcoal briquettes. It comes in lots of different flavors and I don’t understand it very well, but if you aren’t extremely careful, Onkle B will tell you all about it.

We buy it by the ton, it arrives in 40 or so 25-kilo bags wrapped up on a wooden pallet. We move the car, the delivery driver uses one of those handcart dealies to push it down to the end of the drive, and there we are — enough or nearly enough for the average heating season. We’ve done this for years.

Only, today’s guy was a stroppy bastard and decided he couldn’t be bothered. He winched it off the truck and left the whole flipping thing at the curb, blocking the end of the drive. Blocking us out and ripe for the stealing. We had no choice but to unwrap it all and carry it to the end of the drive ourselfs, bag at a time.

A TON of coal.

Lest you think that was unchivalrous of Onkle B, he did the heavy part. He lifted the bags onto a handtruck and I only had to wheel them down and tip them off. I wouldn’t let him do the whole thing himself.



Comment from Janna
Time: February 15, 2017, 8:59 pm

Holy shit! I hope you called the delivery company and (being very ladylike) gently informed them that this was unacceptable.

Comment from Niña
Time: February 15, 2017, 9:00 pm

I’d certainly be making a bit of a complaint to the company, that’s for sure.

And, being nosy, how much does a ton of coke cost?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 15, 2017, 9:14 pm

Onkle B called the fuel company, but they weren’t very impressed. The logistics are similar to a DHL — the coal company ships it to a warehouse, and the warehouse contracts with local delivery drivers to take in the next leg. So that’s three different entities involved.

Apparently, the driver isn’t contractually required to take it farther than the curb, but all our previous delivery guys were very nice about it.

We *used* to buy it loose, and some poor little bastard carried it around the back of the house on his back to a coal bunker — a big cement box with a lid. It was more work for everyone (Onkle B had to shovel it out of the bunker to use, which was no fun). But then it got expensive, too, so we stopped doing that.

He’ll have to say how expensive it all is — I don’t know. At the moment, though, he’s super busy cussing at his computer. Not having a good day.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 15, 2017, 9:15 pm

Oh, I should say, he followed up with an email to the CEO. They had a cordial chat about solid fuel a while back, so we had contact info.

Needless to say, this has made us hesitate to buy fuel this way again, and he needs to know that.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: February 15, 2017, 10:29 pm

For the curious (oh, come on someone must want to know?!) what we burn is smokeless fuel. It’s made out of crushed anthracite mixed with… um… something else.

The idea is that ‘cos it’s smokeless it can be used in cities, which doesn’t concern us as we are in the middle of a field. More important to us is that ‘cos it doesn’t smoke it doesn’t block the internal passageways in the stove with soot. It also generates a huge amount of heat.

A ton (ackshky its a bloody metric ‘tonne’ and I have no idea whether that is more or less than a fine, upstanding, patriotic English ton. As an aside, the kids today spell the word in that distinctly gay way. They have been brainwashed by the metric madness. It’s sad to see. Perhaps they eat snails and breathe garlic over one another as well?

Anyway, a ‘tonne’ (pardonnez moi) of the stuff is £330ish which is, apparently $398 according to Google, which knows everything.

So now you know….

Comment from Niña
Time: February 15, 2017, 10:35 pm

I wish I spent that little on a year’s worth of heat, although my gas bill also heats the water, too.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 15, 2017, 10:48 pm

Oh, you sweet, innocent thing 😉

I hear Onkle B typing. He’s going to fill you in on the rest of our fuel bills, I reckon.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: February 15, 2017, 10:49 pm

Golly, Nina, that’s not the year’s bill! We also have oil central heating, wood, electricity and bottled gas for the stove.

Thanks to the hippies and socialists, the UK has some of the highest energy prices in da woild.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: February 15, 2017, 10:56 pm

I hope the driver is looking for a new job.
I hope Stoaty and Uncle Badger can get out of bed in the morning.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 15, 2017, 11:01 pm

We’ve both had the rogue thought that if we get the driver fired, he’d come back and murder us in our beds.

It’s what we would do, after all.

We run on the smokeless fuel for about four hours a night. Then we switch to wood for the last bits of the evening (because, by that time, it’s FREAKING hot in here).

Most of the day, though, we have oil central heat going on low, just to keep it safe and minimum heat. Though I have a little workroom upstairs that’s always toasty if there’s any heat going.

To fall back on, there’s our favorite thing in the whole wide world, the electric blankee.

Comment from Niña
Time: February 15, 2017, 11:44 pm

I don’t even have to turn mine on most winter days, but this is Central Valley, California. It doesn’t usually get very cold here.

Unfortunately, considering how warm the storms were last week and how much rain they dumped on the foothills and into Lake Oroville. At least this next storm is cold and will dump snow in lower elevations, and not as much rain.

Comment from Surly Ermine
Time: February 16, 2017, 12:52 am

What a spotted-dick! I bet Uncle B is feeling it in the badger bits today. Happens to me after too much lifting.

We burn wood pellets and corn here at the ermine den. Mostly pellets, I’ve gotten too lazy to clean the corn plus it’s damn hot… if it’s properly dry.

Comment from Pupster
Time: February 16, 2017, 1:20 am

Here in MN, our home has a natural gas boiler and radiant baseboard heating. I came from the land of forced air furnaces, but there is no ductwork in this rental property. It does a good job keeping us warm, and sounds like a barmaid pulling a pint when the hot water starts its work. The air doesn’t get filtered or circulate in the house at all, and when combined with lazy house-cleaning pups the dust and dog hair have homesteaded the place. I guess I should count my blessings, as your three pronged heating plan seems a bit more complex than my automatic thermostatic temperature control.

Comment from Skandia Recluse
Time: February 16, 2017, 1:39 am

I used to be a truck driver, and the flood of rant about inside vs outside delivery would have filled pages. I was able to stifle myself.

Unless you really want to know ‘cuz the words are all damned up inside of me, and you know words; they gotta flow or they fester.

On second thought, don’t ask. I gotta go fry some eggs.

When I was a kid we had coal delivered, loose coal. The guy backed up to a basement window, and the chute went in the window and whoosh, the coal went down the chute. Then father, who knows best, bought wood. And I had to split wood, and throw the pieces into the basement through the window. Builds character, they said. Builds muscles, they said. Didn’t work for me.

Comment from gromulin
Time: February 16, 2017, 1:54 am

This late in and no Tennessee Ernie Ford / 16-tons references yet? I’m disappointed in you people.

I worked a job at age 20 where we moved 5 tons of freight per night, per person. Hand stacked. I think it would kill me now.

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: February 16, 2017, 2:43 am

“A TON of COAL.”

In his exploration of vintage pop culture and advertising, James Lileks came across an ad for Blue Star Coal – “Order a ton today!” It struck him as astonishing that once there was a consumer product that people bought by the ton.

And there still is!

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: February 16, 2017, 3:13 am

Grew up in Pennsylvania and my grandfather’s old farm house (he never farmed, but that’s another story) was heated by a coal furnace. He taught me how to shovel coal, how to feed the fire, and how to bank it for the night. He worked as a fireman on the railroads for a year or two somewhere around 1920, and so he knew his coal, and his shoveling. He taught me ‘the fireman’s flip’ where your back stays bent and the lifting is done with the forearm and the throw with a flip of the wrist… and he taught me not to overload my shovel. He never managed to trick me into whitewashing a fence though….

Anyhow he always insisted on anthracite – ‘soft coal’ was a dirty waste of time and money. As a side note, I knew about ‘Blue Coal’ as a kid, but he never bought any so I’ve never seen it.


Oh, and has it really been a decade? I don’t remember how far back I started visiting here, but it was well before the infamous sneakers on the desk at work incident….

A post every week day for a decade? Amazing… Congratulations, and THANK YOU!

Comment from tomfrompv
Time: February 16, 2017, 3:44 am

I wonder if there was a missing “gratuity” someplace? Maybe the delivery guy was looking for a tip, didn’t see it, and left? Thats the deal around here. Give the guys $20 each, they’ll stack it anywhere. Pretend you don’t have money, and its at the end of the drive or in the ivy or nextdoor. Everything is like that – pizzas to firewood to Home Depot deliveries. Its like a sub-economy for the working illegal.

Maybe I don’t understand the UK, but ever consider natural gas? Pipe it on from the street, burn it one of those condensing furnaces with no flues, and its terrific! You’ll never go back to coal or oil.

Comment from Subotai Bahadur
Time: February 16, 2017, 3:45 am

I once moved 3 1/2 tons [2000 lb version] of coal, TWICE with a shovel and wheelbarrow in one day. Could not get the trailer close to the coal bin. Shoveled into the wheelbarrow, moved it 10 yards, shoveled from the wheelbarrow into the trailer. Never again. Got a greenhouse for my labor, but just bugger-all. There is a Danny Glover quote that applies.

As far as delivery problems, in 1981 we were moving from in town to a ranch about 15 miles up into the mountains. In the middle of the move, our refrigerator went Tango Uniform. Needed a new one quick. Went to the late, unlamented Montgomery Wards. The manager was out on some sort of a call. So I bought it from the secretary who was there, so she got the commission. Which hacked off the manager. I paid extra for the delivery to the house and installation.

They [manager and a driver] came out and tried to drop it on the other side of the cattle guard at the edge of the yard. Driver objected to the manager, and so they dropped it outside the house in the yard. Manager claimed that despite my paying for installation, they just had to drop it at the property line. Said property line for the ranch was 5 miles down the road.

We got it inside, and installed it ourselves. And I wrote a nastygram by snail mail to the CEO of Montgomery Wards. I got a letter back in about 2 weeks from his secretary saying that he had forwarded it down the line and I would hear from others soon. Same from the regional manager, the state manager, and the district manager. That last refunded the delivery and installation charges and said that steps had been taken to ensure that the problem would never recur again.

This being a small town, we soon heard that the manager had been rather forcefully told that if they got another complaint like that, despite being with the company for 17 years, he would be kicking rocks down the road.

This being Colorado, we were not too afraid of him coming at night to murder us. At the time we were on a ranch, and if he got past our very large German Shepherd, I’m pretty sure I had firepower superiority on him. You may have heard of the phrase: “I have a shotgun, a shovel, and 5 acres out back.”. Amend that to a couple thousand acres plus more leased BLM land.

Comment from bds
Time: February 16, 2017, 3:52 am

We bought an older house (for the US) many years back, going on 90-years-old now. It has a narrow coke fireplace and unlined chimney so we can’t burn wood. We have a gas furnace, but I’ve looked to buy some coal just for the sake of having a fire on cold winter evenings. I doubt I could even get it delivered, but the only quantity they apparently sell it in is the ton.

Semi-related aside, when we moved in we thought the basement floor was packed dirt. Nope. Several weeks of cleaning and a dead Shop Vac later I uncovered a nice concrete floor that had been buried under almost a half inch of dirt and coal dust. That was a nasty job.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: February 16, 2017, 11:22 am

tomfrompv – no gas here. Too far out in the country. Lots of rural places here don’t have it.

Comment from Durnedyankee
Time: February 16, 2017, 1:32 pm

Thank you Gromulin!
I was hoping the two of them were at least singing the refrain lines about “another day older” etc.
What’s the point of actually shoveling coalish substances without singing the coal song!

We had a giant octopus coal furnace in the basement near what was once the bin. Damon thing she o old been in horror movie.

Comment from Timbo
Time: February 16, 2017, 3:19 pm

Y’all a bunch o wimps! Last summer I had 22 tons of oak trunks delivered. Mrs T is a demon negotiator and kept getting a better price as the volume increased. Fortunately for me that was the maximum carrying capacity of the truck.
Then the fun began. I have handled that lot three times so far: while cutting it; feeding the splitter; taking it in and stacking after drying and still have one more time which is feeding the stove and fireplace. So, 88 tonnes by the time I’ve finished.

That last bit is in the future, as I am relaxing in the sun at the moment. Hope the weather has cleared up by the time I get back.

Comment from BJM
Time: February 16, 2017, 4:47 pm

We have LPG and the supplier has it dialed. They monitor the tank via satellite and zip out to refill without us lifting a finger.

Our biggest energy expense is AC in the summer, with bills approaching $1000 a month, so we went solar and sell more into the grid than we use. We will receive a check at the yearly true-up. The system will pay for itself in five years.

Our property is heavily wooded and the oaks had been badly neglected, we called in an arborist and he took down thirty dead or dying oaks and three 60 ft rogue eucalypts. The Spousal Unit and a helper spent the first summer here cutting, splitting and stacking wood.

We have 50-60 cords stacked under cover, a lifetime supply at our age. The veggie garden got deep shredded oak paths too. We added a stove insert to the wood burning fireplace and it heats the main rooms of the house.

Unfortunately the writing is on the wall in CA, fireplaces are already banned in new home construction. It is only a matter of time before residential wood burning is banned.

Comment from Steve Skubinna
Time: February 16, 2017, 5:26 pm

A metric ton (tonne) is 1000 kilos, or 2204 pounds. A long ton is 2240 pounds, so as always you’re getting ripped off by those metric bastards. At least you poor Limeys held onto the Imperial pint for beer.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: February 16, 2017, 7:13 pm

Well, no offense (or, as you limeyoids say, “offence”), but every couple of months the wife and I used to restack 30 tons of hay that the truck driver would kick off the flatbed.

Much fun. And yet, I don’t miss it one bit.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 16, 2017, 9:21 pm

We’re old. And out of shape. And lazy.

Do you have ANY idea how much of a physical handicap it is to be lazy?!

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: February 16, 2017, 10:44 pm

In fairness, there are weights and there are weights. A sack is a dead weight, hard to grip and horrible to carry.

And yes, we’re old. And lazy.

Comment from Pupster
Time: February 17, 2017, 1:58 am

Do you have ANY idea how much of a physical handicap it is to be lazy?!

Yes. Yes I do.

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: February 17, 2017, 12:20 pm

Ya can’t be too lazy, ya hauled a tonne of coal.

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