Thursday 19 April 2012

Energy and Rhythm

All along, our plan has been to use wood as our main energy source.
After all, at the rate that we have been consuming thus far, we will never exhaust our supply.
That is, of course, if the game isn't changed by fire, or pests, or disease.
We expect to increase our demand for energy as some of the projects get underway, but not enough to compromise the integrity of the woodlot.

The stove is still going these days, even in the warm weather.
In an attempt to bring the hydro bill down,
 we have been using the woodstove for cooking as much as possible.  
Sometimes it gets hot in here.
  But it's a dry heat.

It still needs some weight in the front to keep the wheels on the ground.

The greatest challenge for us has been getting the wood in.
It's not so difficult to do unless you have many other things on the go, tying up time.
Over the years, I have been perfecting working on the best way for us to get the wood from stump to stove.
Last year, I built a custom attachment for the tractor.
Among the tasks it was designed for are the two methods of wood collection.
The trees here are, for the most part, mostly trunk with not so much crown.
The bulk of the tree is dragged or "skidded" out of the bush, in whatever length is most appropriate.
The crown is cut into manageable lengths and carried out on the rig.

Many people butcher their firewood in the forest in order to keep the mess at home to a minimum.
I prefer to do most of the work at home for some simple reasons.
1) I am close to my family
2) I am close to snacks 
3) I am further from the biting flies

I have mostly decided on the current methods, so I did some landscaping for a permanent wood butchering spot.  It is fairly central, so it should be practical through many years of shifting plans and projects.

The mess from firewood is only a mess in relative terms.
If the bark and other debris detract from the image of your home, then it is a mess.
If the bits of wood and bark contribute to the aesthetic, then it is no longer a mess.
Personally, I'll choose sawdust and bark over a lawn any day.

The wood that is coming in now was felled almost two years ago.
It is well seasoned and the recent dry spell has baked it to perfection.
I am still in the process of cleaning up the remaining wood from two years worth of tree harvesting.
The next group of trees have already been brought down.  That happened last summer.
They are ready to be processed for the next burning season and will likely provide two seasons worth.
This summer, I will fell trees for the following cycle.  This will bring cadence to fuel-wood collection and keep us in well-seasoned wood indefinitely.

That's a good looking chicken!
There is quite a bit of work involved in using wood for heat.
What is remarkable is the relatively small amount of petroleum fuel required.
Though, there are no simple solutions to the energy question.

Wood heat puts a lot of control into the hands of the wood burner.
I choose and oversee the method of harvest from the bush lot.
The cost of harvesting is easily monitored and controlled.
If fossil fuels become prohibitively expensive, then manual methods could be more practical.
There is also no lingering doubt as to the profit margins taken from fossil fuels.
There is no price gouging, or tax grabs, or speculation.
It is a rural option, however.

Of the many things that the homestead offers,
wood heat is the most many ways.

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