Way Behind Schedule

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Next winter’s firewood should have been split and stacked for drying months ago, but life–work, kid sports, book stuff, fishing–got in the way. And now I’m feeling pressure to get the three huge firs I hauled home (with the help of good buddies Neal and Reed) back in April into position to dry fast. The good news is the trees have been cut and quartered since April. The bad news is that they don’t dry that well when they’re lying on the ground in a huge pile.

Thankfully, I have a little help. Weston does quite a bit, actually, and probably cuts a third of the time out of my usual solo stacking process. More importantly, his cheerful spirits make the work more fun. And if we stack for extra good air circulation, and have a relatively warm, dry summer, we might be okay. Last year I had a late start as well, and the wood burned okay. Still a little wetter than ideal, but good enough. That’s probably the best we can hope for this year.

So yeah, a little late once again. But then, if I’m being honest with myself, it’s been several years since I actually had all the wood put up when I like. Turns out, the dream of being done with the next year’s wood stacks a year in advance is really just that…a dream. In which case, I’m not behind schedule at all. In fact, I’m right on time. Awesome.

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It’s That Time Of Year

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The wind blows, trees fall, and I have to be ready to run out and procure next winter’s wood supply. And I’m still working at hauling away the rounds I left in our neighbor’s yard, too. Thankfully, they’re patient people. Slow going, but we’re getting there. Only four more cords and we should be good…

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Of course, I also have to make space. So most mornings before work, I try to split a few rounds, and when the pile of split wood gets big enough, I spend a few sessions stacking. Good to get the blood pumping before work, since my unheated office is starting to get pretty chilly. Busting a few rounds staves off the fingers-too-stiff-to-type condition for at least an extra hour. Yet another way firewood keeps you warm.


Firewood Bailout

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After a remarkably calm and temperate winter, the drawbacks of good weather have become apparent. No wind equals no blowdowns. Which means no firewood for next year. Which means a kind of mild panic hovered over me all spring. Of course, it’s not like we’d freeze to death or anything; we’d just have to run the heater more…and take another mortgage on the house to pay for it. And then there’s the small matter of pride to consider as well. But I digress.

You know those people who walked around outside Grateful Dead shows holding up a finger and “looking for a miracle?” Neither do I. But that’s what I felt like, and my hopes (growing thinner by the day) were answered last week, courtesy of our friends Rob and Nina. They brought four trees down to make space for a new shed, and called to see if I was interested. Interested? Me? I had to be restrained from running out the door before I hung up the phone.

But the process of actually moving said trees to our yard kicked my ass. The rounds from the base of one enormous fir weighed between 200 and 300 pounds each, and they had the twisted, fibrous grain that makes them almost impossible to split. Chainsaws, wedges, sledges, mauls, blood, sweat and tears all came into play. After a couple afternoons of destroying my body alone, I had to call for reinforcement. Then my buddy Steve and I beat ourselves to a pulp last Friday getting it all out of there. That night, I could barely walk, but I felt a huge relief every time I looked out the window at this pile of wood.

Yeah, it still needs to be split and stacked, but it’s here, and I’m grateful to have it. If Weston and I get on it soon, and the weather’s decent this summer, it might be ready to burn by January or February.

Thanks Rob and Nina for saving our bacon, and thanks Steve, for sharing the pain. I’m stoked!


Every Bit Helps

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We’ve had very little weather this winter. The good: No sleepless nights cringing in fear of trees falling on the house, no power outages, etc. The bad: No windfall trees for next year’s firewood. Of course, we’ve been extra busy this year with the farm and book and kid activities, but still, I should have a huge pile of rounds stacking up in the yard by now. And I have to admit to a certain level of anxiety whenever I think about our wood supply.

So, when our good friend (and bookseller extraordinaire), Victoria, called to say there was a madrona down on the road, I was stoked. “It’s not much,” she said, “but it’ll burn.” That’s all I needed to hear. Madrona is the premier firewood around here, heavy, dense and packing tons of BTUs. A little madrona is better than a lot of most other wood, and it’s much, much better than the big zero we currently have. I threw the saw in the car, ran down there and started cutting.

She was right, of course. Not much. But just enough to get the pile started with hopefully more to come. I did see some pretty nice standing dead madronas over there while I was cutting…