Folklore about Burning Logs

burning logs in a woodstove

A friend experienced a chimney fire just before Christmas. Thankfully he woke and smelled smoke about the time it started. He was able to call the fire department and try to put it out with a hose and a fire extinguisher. Although the house has some damage, especially in the roof area, the whole thing could have been much worse if he hadn’t of caught it so soon.

Since then, it seems like we’ve all been a little more wary of our wood stove. The Deer Hunter climbed on the roof and gave it a good cleaning out. Chitter helped him and they both looked like chimney sweeps once the chore was finished.

The girls and I have jumped at every pop, crack, and hiss that comes from the stove even though we’ve been hearing them for years and years.

In an article titled Burning Logs Whisper Secrets, John Parris shared the following folklore he heard from his Grandfather.

  • When the logs tramp along like someones walking-they’re saying company is coming
  • When the logs make a sort of sobbing sound rain is sure to follow
  • When the logs putter and make a sound like a person walking through snow, you know it will soon snow (Lonnie Dockery, former Blind Pig reader, told me he always heard that the fire was “tramping snow” when it sounded like someone walking on snow)
  • When the fire roars up the chimney like it wants out there’s sure to be a fuss in the family


Whether its a wood stove, a fireplace, or a bonfire there is something mesmerizing about fire. I soak up the heat like a cat and let my mind wander as I watch and listen to the jumping flames.

Parris’s Grandfather made a good point in the article I mentioned that still rings true today, probably more true today than years ago when the article was written. People don’t know about foretelling signs, like whispering logs, because today they have no time to listen.


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  • Reply
    January 4, 2021 at 12:43 pm

    That’s what Rachel Ray said happened to her house it had been cleaned 3 times that yr,she a member of volunteer fire department. Sad for all

  • Reply
    January 10, 2020 at 8:47 pm

    Hint: Do NOT try to vaccuum your chimney!
    So much for the lessons on chimney maintenence, but we do miss our Tennessee fireplace now that we’re back in Florida. I remembered a similar Blind Pig post and have looked for it. Now I cannor listen for what the logs whisper.

  • Reply
    January 9, 2020 at 4:06 pm

    Using a “FREE STANDING” wood stove with “flow” pipes to the chimney instead of a “fire place” insert will eliminate the chimney fires. I learned the hard way, with a huge chimney fire, no damage other that my wrecked mind after the fire.

  • Reply
    January 9, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    The house I was raised in had a metal pipe through the ceiling and we’d get on the roof once or twice a year and take a chain and clean it out, the first house my wife and I built had a terra cotta lined flue with brick outer, and I wouldn’t use a chain for fear of chipping away at the terra cotta, I used a brush and it did a pretty good job, I would check it often because after we first moved in I had been burning some pretty green wood and the flue was built up with cressote, and one night I got her rolling pretty good and up the flue it went and it sounded like the rumble of a freight train scared me to death the first thing I did was close the damper off and closed the heater down to try to stop all airflow feeding it. Well, needless to say it got cleaned out but not before I thought it might catch the roof on fire, so from then on, twice a year I religiously inspected the flue.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 9, 2020 at 11:16 am

    We never had a fireplace but we heated with wood stoves. Our first house had a pipe that ran through the ceiling and out through the roof. Our second house had two wood stoves for heat. They were attached to chimneys made of brick with a terra cotta flue liner and thimbles that the stovepipe went into, which was much safer. Every spring we took the stoves outside, gave then a good cleaning, oiled them and left them on the porch until fall. The kitchen stove was cleaned and put back the same day, of course, so we could eat.
    Daddy built the chimneys with a soot trap at the bottom. It was a space below where the stovepipe attached to it. Quite a bit of ash and soot could collect in it over the heating season. All you had to do to clean it was take out the pipe, reach back into the thimble and scoop it out. Once a year, before we put the stoves back in, somebody would climb up on the roof and knock down whatever was in the chimney. The best method was to drop a small chain (the size chain we used to tie up the cows) down through the flue liner and shake around vigorously until everything that had attached itself to the walls was dislodged, then go back down and empty the soot catchment.
    That’s all there was to it, except cutting, hauling, splitting, stacking, carrying and building a fire on a cold 9° morning.

    • Reply
      January 9, 2020 at 11:51 am

      Ed-The Deer Hunter actually used a chain too 🙂 He didn’t feel like the brush was doing much good so he thought of using a chain. I’ll be sure and tell him that’s how your family did it.

      • Reply
        Ed Ammons
        January 9, 2020 at 2:10 pm

        Brilliant minds think alike!

  • Reply
    January 9, 2020 at 10:21 am

    Welcome back Tipper. Love seeing this post this morning. I have to keep on my husband to make sure the chimney is clean. I think he let it gp by last year. I’m afraid it will get stopped up and that scares me. I love burning wood. The heat, the sounds. Love it all.

  • Reply
    Melissa P (Misplaced Southerner)
    January 9, 2020 at 9:44 am

    There she is! I have always been the fire-maker in the family. Started with Girl Scouts (seemed to get the hang of it easiest). We had a dual-sided fireplace in our house in Florida, but the flue wouldn’t draw. The one-and-only time we ever tried to use it (a New Years party my parents had), the house filled with smoke and I still remember watching my daddy running through the house to the stone driveway with smoking logs. Since then, I’ve always checked every fireplace we’ve had to make sure they draw before starting a fire. Still… it makes me chuckle at that memory.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    January 9, 2020 at 9:07 am

    I had a chimney fire once. Kinda scary to hear it roar and wonder how bad it is going to be and how long it is going to last. Only thing to do is try to stop it from getting air.

    About that, I never see any of the fixer-upper shows on DIY or HGTV say anything about a chimney inspection in these old houses. Wish they would.

    If any of you all are thinking of converting a wood-burning fireplace to a direct-vent gas and are thinking of re-using the chimney as a vent, I tried that and I was too close to the limit of distance and it did not work. Had to vent through the wall. Most gas fireplaces now are ventless.

  • Reply
    January 9, 2020 at 8:57 am

    My living room has a 12 foot ceiling and almost impossible to heat without using my fireplace insert. I just finished my cluster shots at the allergy doctor and will try to follow his orders as I go through no telling how many years of shots. Trouble is, I don’t feel any better, so I’m about to ignore a few of his dos and don’ts and build a fire. I don’t know which is worse, freezing to death or sneezing, wheezing and coughing.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    January 9, 2020 at 8:07 am

    Glad you are back. I changed to a gas log and love it. I just push a button and have a roaring fire or a small flame depending on how cold it is. It is still mesmerizing and so easy the older I get. I hit 80 this year and hate cleaning ashes and carrying logs. Now I just sit back and enjoy the view. I do miss the snap, crackle and pop.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 9, 2020 at 7:35 am

    I’m so glad your back, my morning is just not the same without the Blind Pig dose of the real world to get my day started!

  • Reply
    sheryl paul
    January 9, 2020 at 7:22 am

    Fire gives comfort and is mesmerizing. Parrises grandfather is right. People are no longer aware of anything around us. We act like ants in a disturbed ant mound trying to dave the eggs

  • Reply
    January 9, 2020 at 7:19 am

    Welcome back! I used a fireplace insert for many years. I loved it, but my fear of fire finally caused me to stop the practice. With a steep roof and difficulty finding a chimney sweep, I finally just left it be to use in case of emergency. I did not find out until later that I had two chimneys, and apparently the man cleaned the wrong one the first time without mentioning that little fact. Enjoying a wood fire can seem to just melt away all your cares. Everybody had fires growing up, and the much hotter coal fires were used. As a child I witnessed a house burning to the ground, and it is not something one soon forgets. I am a bit of a fanatic about those life saving smoke alarms.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    January 9, 2020 at 6:25 am

    Have always loved a fire. When I was a kid I would visit my Grandpa Nick Byers at his farm on Ivy Log. We would have a big fire in the fireplace and roast potatoes in the coals….and then maybe listen to the Grand Ole Opry on that battery powered radio. He had a wire antenna strung out in the yard. I have a copy of the original deed to the 90 acres from a Mr. Chapman who reserved the right to cut his firewood from one end of the property.

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