Firewood Crisis
2015

Dateline: 11 October 2015



As explained in blogs past, we heat our house with firewood only, using a wood stove. I bought the stove used when we built the house some 30 years ago. We burn 10 to 15 face cords of wood every winter. It's a simple, inexpensive, dependable approach to heating a home. I'm sure I've saved many thousands of dollars over the years by not having a more sophisticated heating system.

For almost all the years we have heated with wood, I have purchased the wood from a neighbor. He is a small-scale dairy farmer who has augmented his low farm income by selling firewood to the locals. His prices have been very reasonable. But this year when we called to order our yearly supply of wood, he inform us that it was all spoken for. This was totally unexpected, and it presents us with something of a crisis.

It is October and, though the weather is not bad at this time, we have had snow in October in past years. There is some wood in our wood shed from last year, but not a lot. So I bought a truck load of firewood logs, as you can see in the picture above.

The man I bought the logs from didn't know how many face cords were in the load, but a friend who has bought similar loads says it is about 30 face cords. The cost was $700. Not bad when you consider that it will heat my house for two years. 

It's nice wood. But it's green, which is to say, it is freshly cut and full of moisture, which is to say, it will be good firewood for the winters of 2016-2017 and 2017-2018. But it really won't be good for this coming winter of 2015-2016.

I need dry wood, so I'm going to cut down several dead elm trees on the edge of my field, along with a few dead ones in the woods. That might get us through the winter. But probably not. I'll be looking to buy some seasoned firewood to help with the crisis.

My plan was to have the logs put off to the side of my property to season for a year before cutting them into chunks and splitting them. But the truck driver was concerned about driving on my lawn after a recent heavy rainfall, and there were overhead power lines to contend with. So he unloaded right by the road....



That's way too close to the road. The snow plow wing would surely hit the pile. So I'm faced with having to cut up the logs now, and then go and cut the dead elms. 

The work is not a problem. I love cutting and working with firewood. It's a bit more of a physical challenge that in past years, but it's doable. 

The problem is one of time. As usual, my Planet Whizbang business keeps me very busy most days until well past noon. And it gets dark earlier these days. So I'll be cramming to get my firewood issues taken care of. Oh, and I need to dig my potatoes. And plant some garlic. And Marlene has picked a LOT of apples to make more cider.

Thus it is that I must extend my blogging break a bit longer than I had expected. I have much to write about, but it will have to wait. And I have a YouTube 2-part video about making Whizbang apple cider that will also have to wait. And I was hoping to introduce an idea I developed (two years ago) for a new woodland sport, but that will have to wait. And making a production run of my new Whizbang tool for gardeners will have to wait. And...

So that's my story. I'll be back when my firewood crisis is resolved, (though I may return briefly for short blog post about a new Planet Whizbang product my youngest son is working on).

I'm sure you're busy too. Here's hoping you fellow Northerners finish all that you need to finish before the snow and bitter cold come.

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Oh, one more thing, while I'm on the subject of firewood...

A two-wheeled garden cart is a great tool for moving firewood, especially heavy, water-laden chunks. You simply tip the front of the cart down by the wood and transfer it into the cart, then you can very easily lever the cart up and transport the load. This is much easier than lifting every chunk up over the edge of the cart.

Click picture for larger view. And check out the tires.

Of course, a Whizbang Garden Cart is better for this job than any other. But I'm using an old and decrepit cart of another kind for this job. That's because one of my Whizbang garden carts is holding my outdoor sink, and the other is chock full of apples. Note to self: make another cart.


I'm piling the chunks of wood on pallets by my wood shed, as this next picture shows. Pallets. Very handy on a homestead!






12 comments:

Gail said...

With a good bed of hot coals the green with hold the fire through the night.

Happy cutting.

Anonymous said...

I just returned from my wood lot where I marked the trees that I will just as soon as the leaves have fallen. Cut this year to burn next year and leave it in chunk form until then.

Mrs. G said...

We've burned green wood before, but you really have to watch the creosote. If you have a sawmill close by you can perhaps burn slab wood this winter. For several years we cut all the wood that we heated our house with by hand, it was hard hard work, but we're proud of ourselves for making do and getting through.

deborah harvey said...

sixbearsinthewoods bought a load of brick shaped wood products--cannot remember what they are called.
a load of those could tide you over.

deborah harvey said...

one more comment
be careful a have kevlar chaps and goggles on!

Anonymous said...

Try Craigslist for folks nearby who are willing to give away their trees or cut trees for free. I keep my eyes open all year and have accumulated eleven full cords this way in the last two years but it is all some here and some there. A splitter is a nice tool to have . . .

Daniel Truax said...

I used to burn 18 face cord a year. I am down to less than 9 face cord a year using my home made Rocket Mass Heater.

The heater only burns forearm sized chunks. That means more more splitting which is a drawback. But even if the wood is green and split today it will be dry and seasoned by late November since it is split up so small...

PioneerPreppy said...

You will probably need more of that Elm by volume than you used of the Oak you got from the dairy farmer. Assuming it was Oak of course. However if you are burning a lot of Elm you can get by throwing in a bit more green wood with it as the Elm flames more and lessens the creosote build up even though Elm burns cooler.

Anonymous said...

Herrick,

are there any Ash trees on your property? You can burn ash green and get most of the heat value out them and they will season as the year progresses.

Mike Snow

Anonymous said...

Do you have to cut up and move ALL those logs, or could you cut the part closest to the road? We are so fortunate to have a very small home and installed a teensy wood heater last winter. Even though the temperature gets down to the low twenties, not much more than a couple of cubic feet of wood is enough for a day to keep us comfortable. Thank God you are in good physical shape to do all of that work, keep safe.

Herrick Kimball said...

Hey Everyone,

Thanks for all the ideas and advice!

I am making slow but sure progress on resolving my firewood crisis.

Hope to be back to blogging here soon...

Anonymous said...

A log jack would come in real handy.