Wednesday, 14 January 2015

A Return to Firewood

Collecting firewood was a novelty when we first moved here over ten years ago.
It was an opportunity to spend some time in the forest, exploring and hunting for dry wood.
Running a chainsaw was a new experience, and splitting wood by hand for the stove made me feel like a real woodsman.

Each year I would find new ways of getting the wood in.
We bought an old tractor at the end of our first year and put it to work hauling wood.
It pulled a trailer, a dolly, and eventually, just the whole logs.
Each year it took less time to do, and I thought I had everything all sewn up.

But we grew.
And growing means adding more to the chore list.
Firewood could be done after all the the other jobs.
So it fell to the bottom of the list.

And then it didn't get done in time.
A wet Fall and rutted trails meant that the job wasn't so easy anymore.
The standing dead trees and dry windfall had all been harvested.
Splitting wood by hand still made me feel like a woodsman,
but with a sore back.

Last year was by far the worst.
The time we set aside for firewood was taken up by making a living to pay the bills.
A hard choice for sure.
So we gathered our wood using snowshoes and sleigh throughout the Winter.

Last Winter was pretty tough.
I vowed to never let the firewood lapse again.
But I did,
until the very last minute.

Two very large windfall Ash trees, and a back route to our woodlot saved us.
And so far, this Winter has been merciful.
We have firewood.
I only hope it is enough.

In truth, the firewood novelty has yet to wear off.
Spending time in the forest gathering fuelwood is still a beautiful experience.
It's honest labour that you can feel really proud of at the end of the day.
Especially if there's a big pile of wood to show for it.

Fuel is of such tremendous importance on the homestead.
Using our own woodlot means that we are directly responsible for our heating fuel.
There's no calling the utility company or turning up the thermostat.
It's one of the few acts of self-sufficiency that we can manage on our fledgling homestead.

Having said that, we need to reset our priorities.
Our Winter fuelwood needs to get done sooner than it has been.
Working for money can wait.
I need to get out into the forest.

1 comment:

  1. I'd like to add that we generally don't take standing dead trees for fuelwood anymore.
    The larger trees that are missing their tops, are left for the wildlife.
    We try to take down sick or injured trees, and let them season for a year before bringing them in.
    That takes some planning ahead, which we're still working on.