Friday, March 19, 2010

around the homestead- winter heating wood

Yes, I know winter hasn't  ended this year for many folks  and here I go  writing about  next years winter wood for heating. Actually I am not just going to write about this coming  years wood but also the following year as  wood for heating needs to be thought of well in advance of  actually using it.

Because of the lay out of the land, the type of wood on the land  and the actual lack of land here on the homestead, wood lot management plays a big part in the how and why of  what we do for our wood needs. All of our heat  in the winter is produced  with wood, as is all of our cooking.  Each   winter we use about 5 cord of wood though each year we try to use less by closing off portions of the shack , insulating doors and windows more and this next year we are going to try and add more fire brick to the stove box to insulate it more so that it holds the heat.

We do not have a tractor here on the homestead and at this point we don't even have a working 4 wheel drive. Many places  here on the land are inaccessible to both any way so we must think about where we fall trees and how we are going to get it back to the house. A mule team would be our best choice, but again, mules take feed and space, neither of which  we have enough of in order  to justify a team of mules at this point.

Most years we try and pick a trees in strategically located spots so that we can either roll logs or rounds down a hill, which we have plenty of, to a roadway where we then split, load on to the truck and then  haul to the shack. The last couple of seasons however,  large hard wood trees have come down  behind the shack on a hillside that goes into a deep  gully. There is no road   down in  there and there is no easy access but we were not going to let this wood go to waste. 

Just as our luck  would have i,t last year when we nearly got the ones that had fell there  two years ago cleaned  up, we had  another large one fall  in the same place.  Again, we couldn't let this wood go to waste  so we the manthing has been busy cutting, splitting, chopping, throwing, throwing some more, hauling and stacking. This weekend we should know how much more, if any, wood we will need for the coming season and   then begin dropping the following years wood so that it can begin to season.

 Late fall, winter and very early spring are our wood working seasons. We are both allergic to bee stings so we try and stay away from the wood piles as much as possible in the warm months  and wood is a much more enjoyable experience when it is cooler weather.

So here is how   our manthings wood   moving and hauling has  gone. It is hard to tell in the pictures the incline we are on.  If you look across there is another hillside over there and the bottom of the hole is barely visible. This is where the trees fell and were cut up and split. The wood was then  thrown section by section up to where  it could be hauled out with the wheel barrow. This pile is about 65 foot out of the hole with a 30 foot  vertical rise.

He then  loads it into the  wheel barrow and wheels it up the rest of the way to the shack, another 100 foot or so in distance  and another 20 foot vertical rise where it is then stacked to finish seasoning for the coming winter.

Yes, this seems a lot of work and it is, but   understand that  we have to use and choose the wood wisely that we harvest here on the land. We are caretakers of the earth  and in doing such we must be sure to not over use our natural resources nor change our ecosystem that we live in. We must respect the environment around us and in doing so  Mother will provide. Part of this respect is to clean up the messes she leaves when  she has a little temper tantrum.To us  that in itself is providing  for us, we just often don't look at it  this way.


  1. Living in the holler, all our wood is up hill and we use the gravity system to get it down. We also have a tractor, and learned the hard way you can't rely on all those big hunks of wood landing just where you want them to. Our neighbor repaired the tractor after one landed directly on top of the place where all the guages are located and smashed it all down...

  2. too bad you cant harness the dogs! you gotta feed them anyway! people have NO clue how much work wood is in reality.

  3. so many good points you staying warm isnt easy, it takes work...and only using want you need guys are great...i remember when i was there it was muddy...i remember sliding around...tell man thing most excellent job...i used to have pics of meatloaf and white zombie..will search for them...

  4. When I met DH his grandparents and two sets of aunts and uncles heated with wood. The work was impressive. They had tractors and trailers to help out.
    Back in '80 we lived on a farm for 18 months. We heated with wood. Oh, what work it was! Four neighbors went together to cut, chop, and split the firewood. We shared equally and enjoyed the camaraderie.
    We are looking at getting a pellet stove for our retirement house. That and a greenhouse containing a swimming pool. Yes, sometimes I live in a dream world.