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Sunday, May 17, 2009

HOM: Wood

Getting firewood was always somewhat of a hassle. Laird & I went out and cut firewood together a few times, I got some spinouts from the mill, and once I had a logging truck load delivered. I usually bought a few cords of wood from friends, always unsplit and sometimes in eight foot lengths (Cord: A pile of wood four feet wide, four feet high, and eight feet long. We'd use 8-10 cords every winter.) Wood heat. It might be bad for the air, but I guess it gave a lot of benefits. It sure gave me plenty of exercise. My back, arms, legs, lungs and vocabulary all got a workout. Laird had a system -- it was his truck and his chainsaws, so he did the cutting and I did the splitting and loading. The only time his system would misfire would be when I'd look up, wipe the sweat out of my eyes, and see him sitting on a log and drinking a Coke while he waited for me to catch up. At that point, the splitter/loader would hand him the mauls and go on strike. Yeah, that was "mauls", plural. On the gnarlier pieces, you'd sink one into the end of the chunk as far as you could, then use the second maul to pound it in till the piece split. "Chainsaws" was plural too. Having a pair of them was pretty good insurance against a wasted trip if one failed and once in a while a saw would bind up so badly in a log that another saw had to be put into play to free it. Lyn pitched in at first to help unload and stack when we got home with a load. So did Bec, but when a tall and teetery stack fell over on her she decided to be a spectator. She wasn't hurt, but her dignity suffered a bit. The novelty wore off for Lyn after the first couple of cords too. The wood pile worked both ways on my temper. I found that splitting wood was a great way to let off steam when I was angry. It was legal and effective, and whose head I imagined splitting open with every swing was nobody's business but mine. The flip side was the wood that was so soft or so twisted that it was almost impossible to split. Dad solved this problem by using the saw to split those pieces, but since I had more stubbornness than brains I didn't take that route. I'd just hammer away, madder and madder and harder and harder, till I got the job done. Sawing was usually fairly uneventful except the rare times I cut into a wasp's nest. Lungs and vocabulary and legs all got a workout then. Once the wood was cut & split, we'd pile some on the porch to keep it dry and handy for the stove, a method that usually worked well. The one time this practice backfired, I was just ready to hop in the shower when Lyn asked me to bring in a chunk of wood. Since our place was both rural and private and I was in a hurry I just ran out on the porch butt naked. And hit a patch of ice on the edge of the porch. And went airborne. And ended up flat on my back in a snow drift in the yard. And Lyn thought it was funnier than I did. And commented that the Snow Angel was kinda cheeky . . . TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)


Jean&Vic said...

We usually store about 6-8 cords as our stove is high efficiency, but still I have sympathy for some parts of this story, especially the part about the cheeky snow angel. . . but have laugh, as I have done that too. I have also been out and found more than one hive in a tree, or on the ground near where I was working too, so again have sympathetic pains for your suffering.
Dual mauls (not to be mistaken for dueling mauls ;-) are a very good thing, as a wedge does not work when your maul is stuck, but still better for splitting than not. Especially if the wood has gotten wet before you try to split it. there is more than one stump around our house that has both ends looking like they got the worse end of a hair cut, but they don't get to hear me swear much. I too learned to use the saw to split stubborned pieces of wood, especially after we got some hemlock one year that died right over a spring. Very nice burning, but splitting was not a simple chore.