Country Living Series

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Spring cleaning and spring firewood

There's something about the increasingly nice weather that pushes us outside to tackle projects and chores that have been stacking up. One such project was setting fire to a burn pile.


This pile was an agglomeration of burnable waste from the last year or so -- boards too ratty to use, old rotten hay bales, shop waste, even an old wicker laundry basket. We needed to time the burn so the materials were fairly dry, but the surrounding ground was still wet enough the fire wouldn't spread. We also (duh!) chose a calm day, which can be tricky as wind is common around here.

Don poured some diesel around the pile, and lit a match.


In no time at all, flames were roaring.


Within a few hours, the burn pile was reduced to a pile of ashes, with the exception of the rotten hay bales, which were still too wet to properly catch fire. (No biggee, they can be composted.)


The next morning, things were still smouldering.


While the fire burned, Don worked hard at cleaning up the adjacent log yard. This is where we stack the pulp logs we purchase by the truck-load, and which we use for firewood.


The reason for all this cleanup is we were nearly out of firewood, and had ordered a new truck-load of logs which was arriving shortly. The weather is warming up, but we still use the cookstove in the morning to take the chill off the house.


Here comes our load.




Mike, the affable trucker, parked in front of the log yard and put down the braces to keep the truck from tipping as he offloaded. These logging trucks are absolutely massive, impossible to appreciate until you're close up to one.


Then he climbed into the seat of the loader and started removing logs.


This fellow is a master of controlling the huge arm. He is able to perform amazingly delicate tasks along with the big stuff.



One by one, he stacked the logs.



These are logs that are too cracked, warped, rotten, or otherwise unsuitable for cutting into boards. However they're perfect for firewood. The entire load was red fir.


It only took him about half an hour to offload all the logs. Then he lifted the back end of the truck and piggybacked it onto the front end, standard procedure for empty logging trucks.


He did a beautiful job of neatly lining up the log ends one side of the yard...


...which left the jagged ends on the other side.


Then he backed himself out of the driveway amidst a flurry of thanks and a pocketful of cash. Great guy, Mike. We've bought logs from him before and he's just the nicest fellow.


In the past, using our inefficient parlor stove, this amount of firewood would last us about two years. However with our new, much more efficient cookstove, we're hoping to get three or four years' worth of heat from this load.


If we can afford it, we may even purchase another truck-load of logs in the fall.

13 comments:

  1. I got my wood delivered a few weeks ago. We went through 3 cords last year but that is with the wife holding about 75 degrees in the house. The wood this year looks better than last years batch as well. This batch is almost all Oak and very little is from dead wood. There was a tornado that went through some woods about 10 miles from here and my wood guy has more to cut than he can handle. I get mine delivered all split and stacked.

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  2. Fir? that burns pretty hot and fast. I guess no oak or cherry down there? Much better btu bang for your bucks, just my 2 cents....

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    1. We have virtually no hardwoods in the region. We're dominated by conifers. As the saying goes, the best kind of firewood is what you have.

      - Patrice

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  3. Good looking firewood. Nice to get a head start. Spent two days in your area, in my motor home last week. From CoDA to Moscow. Surprised how much logging going on. The tree huggers have stopped a lot of logging in our area. Now the wood just goes to waste. Things area looking good around your place! Enjoy the spring before the high heat gets here. Have a great week.

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  4. I am constantly amazed at the precision experienced operators have when using these huge machines.

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  5. Old hay is pretty awesome to use as mulch in the garden.

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  6. Could you give out Mike's number?
    I like to deal with people who have a recommendation.
    Thanks,
    Steve in northern ID

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    Replies
    1. Steve, if you email me privately I'll pass on Mike's number.

      patricelewis@hotmail.com

      - Patrice

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  7. Hi Patrice,

    I love reading your blog because it offers a fresh perspective. I have only lived in big cities and only in apartment buildings my entire life. Your blog is a breath of fresh air.

    I especially like reading about your daily life, how you wake up early to drink your tea and have quiet time to yourself. And I am very happy to know that it is possible to be self-employed in this day and age.

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  8. How much wood decay and lose heat power over the years of storage? Would 3-4 year old wood be good still? I never knew you could let it sit for so long.

    molloaggie

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    1. As long as the wood stays off the ground (otherwise it would get "punky" and rotten), wood will be fine for many years. The logs are stacked on "stickers" -- logs that are dedicated to being in contact with the ground and the firewood logs are stacked cross-wise on top, where they stay lifted up and air can circulate. It would be ideal if we had an open-sided shelter we could put over the log pile, but we don't.

      - Patrice

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  9. Just curious how much a big truckload of wood like that costs, roughly. Is it difficult to cut it up? Do you need a lumberjack-sized chainsaw? BTW my wife and I are about to move our family to a farm in your area, to live off the land and off grid. Love reading your blog!

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    Replies
    1. Because this truck was all red fir (considered a less desirable species, though frankly we like it better), it was $1200. Truck-loads with mostly tamarack cost more. That's just the cost for this particular trucker; since they're independent contractors, prices vary from place to place and person to person.

      My husband just bought, of all things, an electric chainsaw to see how he likes it. Turns out he adores it. It operates just like a large Sawz-All. Clearly he can't take it into the woods (extension cord won't go that far), but since the log yard is right near the house, a 100-foot cord suffices.

      - Patrice

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