Cappers Farmer Blogs > Our Fair Field

Of Mudrooms and Woodstoves

Renee-Lucie BenoitI want an old-fashioned mudroom. In the olden days every farm or ranch house had a mudroom. My Aunt J’s old farmhouse had such a room. It was almost as big as the main living room in the house. It was in the back of the house near the barn and equipment sheds where the tired farmer or rancher would trudge up the walkway at end of day and peel off the grime of his work. Aunt J’s mudroom had the washer and dryer and a shower. You could dance a jig in there. It was great! It was almost my favorite room in the house!

Nowadays I find that mudrooms are too small. In ours, we can barely fit the washer and dryer, furnace and water heater. This is a big mistake. You know the old saying, “Happy wife, happy life”? If you’re tromping mud in because you don’t want to take off your boots – and believe me I get this – you are going to have to suffer the repercussions of having an unhappy wife. Or at least a resigned wife. Resigned wives, if you didn’t know already, are not really happy. Guess what category I’m in.


I’ll let you in on a little secret. Our mudroom is a joke. We have an older manufactured house with a front door and back door. When you go in the back door, you’re in the “mudroom.” It’s full of a sink, dresser, a furnace that doesn’t work, and a washer and dryer. There isn’t room for much of anything else. Coats and leftover plastic bags hang on the wall. Shelves hold laundry detergent and odds and ends that have nowhere else to go. I’m telling you this room wouldn’t know an interior designer if it backed over one with the ranch truck. Seriously, Martha Stewart would not feel at home here. As a matter of fact, I think her head might explode if she had to step one foot in the place.

One of my long-term projects is to turn this dinky little room into a better functioning mudroom. Any suggestions? There will never be a shower in there, but perhaps there can be such a miraculous rug that it will attract and collect dirt when the man of the house comes in and doesn’t want to take off his boots because he’s just come in for a drink of water and is going right back out again. It will be a place to get most of the dirt off the dogs when on a rare occasion the outdoor dogs are let in the house. As for the husband, I’m not so persnickety as to demand he take off his boots every time he comes in the house. This is a ranch after all. It’s not the Taj Mahal. But still … it would go a long way to transforming me into a happier version of my already happy self if this mudroom was better functioning. So let’s get working on it!

The Heart of Our Home

There’s nothing like a woodstove. Yes, it dries out the air, but around here that’s not too bad of a thing because we’re in the rainy season so the air-drying factor is compensated by the humidity. Other than that I can’t think of a bad thing. Well, one thing perhaps. You might think getting the wood for it is unpleasant. We actually have figured out how to make it as pleasant a project as possible. We have lots of oak for the picking, and we also have a log splitter so these old bones don’t have to do the heavy lifting. When we were young, using the mallet and splitting maul was not such a travail but now we have to face facts. We ain’t as young as we used to be. My guess: Technology was invented by old people. We had to find another way to get by when sheer brawn didn’t cut the mustard.

So now the wood is all in the shed and kindling is the only task day to day. Making kindling is an easy task. I sit out on my stump splitting kindling like I saw a fellow on Alaska the Last Frontier do it. He steadied the piece to be split with another small piece of wood and then – whack – he hits it with the hatchet and no fingers are in danger. They’re well out of the way.


Now the woodstove warms up the room in two seconds flat. It’s cheery in the cold and darkness like only a fire is cheery, and I think of our ancestors way, way back huddling around the fire while the blizzard raged outside or the wolves howled at the edge of the forest. Then it was more than cheery. It was life itself. What a relief that must have been and no wonder we still retain that joy when we sit in front of a fire in these days of convenience. I know I do.

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