Coming Into the Wood Work

By , February 7, 2014

I’m beginning to gather next winter’s firewood. We’ve got nearly perfect weather for it: dry, cold, sunny days and high winds—northerly gales to 40 knots (46+ m.p.h.) nearly every day. Moisture gets sucked out of any chunk of wood I get to the beach currently.

How's this for a work place? (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

How’s this for a work place? (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

I’m concentrating my current wood cutting effort on the western tip of our land, over in the area we call the “Blow Down.” Years ago, a wind storm knocked down a swath of forest from the end of the peninsula up across our property. It’s a tangle of fallen trees and standing dead now. Many of the trees have rotted, but a lot of them have sound wood in them. Suspended above the wet ground by their branches or other trees, they’ve dried through the years to the point where a short period of seasoning will make them prime firewood.

As a bonus, we’re slowly reclaiming that corner of the property. One day we might have a proper clearing in which to plant an auxiliary garden, or erect a guest cabin or storage shed.

Until then, I’ve got my work cut out for me. After bucking the logs by hand, I have to haul them over the highest part of the trail, then down to the cabin. If I’m lucky, we’ll get some more snow before spring takes hold, and I can transport them by pulk (see The Pulk: Our Homestead’s Winter “Truck”). Otherwise, I’ll need haul all of it the way I do each day lately, a few rounds at a time on my back board.

As I’m coming off a month or two of reduced activity, I’m trying hard to pace myself. I know it’s going to take a while to work back up to “fighting trim,” returning to a higher level of fitness. I don’t want to kill myself making my family’s living.

I’m doing this in the right season, unlike last year. We ended the last heating season with a firewood surplus, and I let that lull me into delaying the cutting and hauling until summer. This year, I’m avoiding that temptation, even as it begins to seem that I might hope (although not expect) to have a similar surplus in the coming months. This is the best time to start the work of gathering enough wood to fill the wood shed, and I need to stick to it until it’s complete.

2 Responses to “Coming Into the Wood Work”

  1. Linn Hartman says:

    Be careful working in your “blow down” area-the ice and wind storms cause havoc in our wood lots-we call those limbs hanging up there “widow makers”-WHEN THINGS GET TO POPPING EVEN THE DEER COME OUT AND BED DOWN IN THE OPEN FIELD-HAD A TREE FALL ON A NEIGHBOR LAST WEEK OUT CUTTING WOOD-NOT A GOOD THING-stay safe

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Hi Linn, good point. We are, of course, constantly on the look out for falling trees (see A Close Call in the Forest). Here, it’s not so much falling limbs, but the entire tree, as ours grow to great heights before growing branches, which never reach much girth. Nevertheless, they fall, and I’ve been hard pressed to pull the resulting “spear” out of the ground.

    I often listen to audiobooks while I work. The other day my battery ran out, so I yanked the earbuds out, and suddenly heard the noise of the trees above and around me, rattling in the wind. Any break definitely would have made it through even the loudest sections of my listening, for all the good it might do me. Those things fall so fast, I doubt we’d ever have a chance to get out of the way.

    Ironically, there’s been one death related to our community–a neighbor’s relative got crushed by a falling tree–in his car at a rest stop on the highway down south!

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