The first time I fired my wood burner I had a little experience with other kilns and firing. I had participated in firing wood burning kilns in Crescent City CA, Flagstaff AZ, Salt Lake City UT, Witichita KS and Himeji City Japan. I had a couple of friends with me for that firing. We thought we had it dialed. After 20 hours at it I crawled off to catch some sleep leaving my two friends with instructions to keep the kiln slowly climbing in temperature. When I returned to the firing a few hours later I found, to my alarm, that the kiln had lose several hundred degrees temperature and we were fast running out of wood. About that time Lee came by to check on us and bring some breakfast. We were all brain dead and unable to come to any sense of how to deal with the situation. She sized things up and sent me scrambling to the sawmill seven miles away for more wood. The other two firemen went to bed and Lee took over stoking duties.
As I started driving back toward Spring City with my load of fuel I could see a column of smoke of biblical proportions rising above Spring City across the valley. When I pulled into the kiln yard Lee set me to butchering wood and she continued firing. The kiln had regained the lost temperature and continued to sail forward under her care. The firing was finished by early afternoon and I went back to bed. To that point Lee had never fired a wood burning kiln. She just had a natural intuitive sense of how it should be done. I have heard that in Korea women are not allowed near the kiln during the early stages of the firing. Their energy is too hot and a steep temperature rise early in the firing can be disastrous. Later when that danger is past the women come in and help get the fire over the hump to completion. I am a believer.
Now when I fire I start the kiln early in the morning and sit with it through the critical stage. Lee comes at mid day and spells me so I can grab a sandwich and a nap. I never worry about whether the kiln is in good hands. She is the only one I totally trust to care for the fire for me.