Watch For Falling Firewood

By , February 21, 2010

Friday started out as a really good day. I made good progress cutting up firewood, but it didn’t end well.

I felled a standing dead spruce I’ve had my eye on for a long time. The base of the tree had rotted so badly, I feared there would be no salvageable firewood in the tree. I felled the 13-14″-diameter tree in two minutes with a bow saw. After the wedge cut, instead of making a back cut, I merely pushed the tree over. A few inches above the rot, the wood became extremely sound and very dry. Instead of bucking it into stove length rounds in the forest, I cut 6-8 foot lengths, and carried them on my shoulder down to my sawbuck.

By mid-afternoon, with steady but light effort, I had bucked up the lengths, and began to split them.

Like many wood choppers, I split my rounds by lodging the axe in the top of the round, then flipping the axe and round over, to rap the axe head on the chopping block, allowing the weight of the round to bear down on the blade. This splits the wood with much less effort.

Apparently, when I swung a round up for the drop, I raised it above my head. At the top of the swing, the round fell off the axe blade. It dropped onto my head from a couple of inches above. It hit hard enough that the sharp edge lacerated my scalp through my wool cap.

I shouted something—Michelle asked later what I’d said. I didn’t know, but I assume it was a cuss word. Michelle and Aly came running—everyone’s on alert when anyone chops wood. They sat me down on a rock in the front yard and administered first aid. It didn’t quite qualify as an injury, but they checked for signs of concussion. The impact stiffened my neck and gave me a back twinge, both of which passed quickly. They gave me ibuprofen, made me a compress with ice from the yard, and tucked me into the couch. Aly brought me a small chocolate bar from her Halloween stash. The cats took turn laying on my chest, purring. The pampering felt good! I’d live, but I was out of action for the rest of the day.

I went back to splitting the next day—I have to in order to keep up with our wood needs—but you can be sure I’m watching that back swing!

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