I have been using a Country S-240 since well before Lennox bought them. Your post is almost 4 years old at this point so we may never cross threads again, especially if you have changed your e-mail. I also heard that Lennox has just sold Country, to who I don't know.
As with any sheet metal EPA Phase 2 wood stove these days, your fuel source has to be dead dry. Cracking in the end grain is just a beginning when it comes to what these stoves require. Forget about storing the wood under a deck, under a tarp. Build a wood shed.
I'd like to sell mine (anyone interested?) but with the legs off in my family room hearth it is a pretty good source of entertainment. I'm way sick of listening to the blower. There were years I never even used it. In the same time span I have owned a Vermont Castings Phase 1 Resolute (a little guy) and traded it for a Vigilant 1.
The Resolute was in my hearth upstairs in the family room and had its own issues, but I brought the sheet metal stove upstairs when I switched. Nothing compares to cast iron or soapstone. I have a soapstone dealer near me and for the life of me I love stopping by for supplies and looking at them but I have yet to see one in operation which makes me somewhat leery. I want to see something work and also see what it puts out the chimney.
I will say, these Phase 2 EPA rated boxes do burn clean as they were designed. Stick with the closest thing you can find to the original fire brick should you ever need to replace it. Before you do that, just turn it around. Unless there are crumbling bricks you should be good. When the chimney scrubber comes, he reports glazed creosote in the flue with the old style stoves and puffy fly ash in the flue with the new stove.
That said, if there is light to no wind, a good day getting it started and up to the required 300-400 degree operating temp will likely take you 2 hours, IF you're lucky. When it gets below zero outside and the wind is howling, forget it. In general, older cast iron stoves start quicker, burn way hotter and are no where near as finicky on their fuel source. They get so hot you need welder's gloves to load them and you won't want to sit too close.
Any stove will be better off with an outside air feed. My Vigilant 1 also has a coal kit which I'm about to try out. I just found replacement parts. The throat of the hopper was warped and after years of looking I lucked out.