Firewood Frenzy!

This morning, we had a bit of trouble getting together and getting outside to begin working on firewood. It seems everyone was feeling a little fatigued after yesterday.

I had gotten up early, doing a load of laundry, washing some dishes and making meatballs for spaghetti and meatballs later in the day.  I raced around while everyone got in a few more minutes in bed! The kids were really disappointed, as they had no school today for Veteran’s Day.

As everyone headed out the door, I went to the freezer and got Angus and Murphy each a frozen marrow bone.  I figured since they were going to have to spend a few hours without us, I would give them something to chew on!  This is Murphy, lying down in the crate with Angus’s bone! Murphy always “finishes up” after Angus.  It is funny, because when we used to give Angus a bone, (before we had little Murphy) he would “bury” it in a plastic bag or perhaps under a pillow!  Since Murphy arrived on the scene, Angus now chews on his bone, but Murphy always has the *last* chew!

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We worked for only about 2 1/2 or 3 hours today, as I just tired out much faster than yesterday. I toppled a couple more dead-on-the-stump trees and cut up some wood that was already down. 

Two years ago, Mark hired a Mennonite crew to add on to our garage. We originally had a “barn” style building with a gambrel roof.  Mark labored over an addition for some time before he came up with the idea of adding a shed roof along the side of the garage and extending the back to form an “L” shaped addition.  This gave a third garage bay, as well as a woodshed in the back.

Before the addition, we used to place pallets on the ground behind the garage, then we would neatly stack the wood on top of the pallets. After the pallets were stacked, we would cover the entire area with a huge tarp. Oh, the stories….

One night, after we had a brief thaw earlier in the day, I grabbed the bungee cords that secured the tarp down, then pulled the tarp towards me a little. BIG mistake. A chunk of ice swept down the watery tarp, landing right on my lip! I wound up with a swollen lip and bad temperament for several days!

Of course, there were the times when the thaws would melt the ice and snow just above the tarp. As I pulled the tarp back, it would form a funnel that often sent icy cold water right down the back of my neck!

As the pallets got older, they eventually would weaken with time (although they were mostly made of oak) and break.  This generally *only* happened at night when I went out back to grab firewood. The board would break, grabbing my boot at an awkward angle, causing my whole ankle to twist. Luckily, I have rubber bones!

Another great feature of the new addition is that if we open the garage door in the front of the garage, and the double doors on the side, air races through the building, creating a draft. This is so vital in drying firewood, and it also offers another bonus! We can run the splitter in the garage, away from rain, snow, or whatever the weather!

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This is the splitting ram that travels down a beam and splits the wood.  Although it is relatively small in size, it does the job of splitting. When we first began gathering wood this year, while Mark was working in the office, I often came out and split the wood by hand. I just love splitting.  One of the major benefits of our young woods is that the trees often grow straight up, like poles. There are few branches, making hand-splitting a breeze! It is also such a cool way to get some exercise!

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Here is a cross-section of the wood I stacked today. There is a good deal of ash in there, along with some maple and lots of red oak.

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 And, this is the back wall of the garage, also known as the woodshed! We will wind up with two rows of wood stacked an average of 5-5 1/2 feet high.  The low areas are in front of windows.  So far, we have about 8 1/2 face cords gathered. We use about 10 face cord a year, although we never really figured it out “scientifically”.

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We didn’t gather all the wood I cut today, so we may well have our 10 cords, but we will fill the entire area, ending up with about 14 face cord total.  Needless to say, we will celebrate when this task is complete! As I said before, we are so grateful for the warm temperatures we have had thus far this fall!

Sven, the Woodcutter, Reporting!

When I used to work at a chainsaw business, many years ago, we called the loggers “Sven”, as we loved those Husqvarna chainsaws! So, here I am now using a Husky saw myself, cutting firewood! Who would have ever dreamed of such a thing?  The owners of the business are both deceased  ( the husband and wife both passed away in their 50’s ) but I thank them for the opportunity of learning a little about saws!

And, speaking of saws….I cut for about 4 hours yesterday. Instead of cutting wood on the ground, I thought perhaps we should take down a few dead trees that weren’t too far from the house. So, I managed to down 2 big oaks, 1 medium maple and 1 really big ash.

Since the chance of rain is 70% today, we may just do splitting. I am hoping I will be able to get into the woods to do some cutting, though. The temperature is almost 20 degrees warmer this morning than it was yesterday.

Oh, and the photos today were actually taken yesterday morning. It is too hard to take pictures while cutting wood!

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I took this picture from the front porch. As you can see, the leaves are now almost gone. Some people feel “naked” trees are ugly, but in my book,  leafless trees only mean that I can see *much* farther!  It really is cool to be able to see so far with a glance….

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Do you see that little horizontal “structure” in the lower left, between the trees? (in the above photo)  That little “sawmill” has a history….

Mark always felt so terrible about cutting firewood and wasting the first 10 feet of the tree, as there was such gorgeous wood there. One day, he discovered the Alaskan Sawmill. This was basically a little frame through which a chainsaw with a VERY large bar and chain ran through to cut boards.

With a  4 year degree in mechanical engineering under his belt, Mark is usually undaunted by tasks to produce things that “move”! He went to work, designing the frame and worked with our neighbor who has all things “welding”. The two of them were delighted when Mark stoked up his big Husky saw with the 36″ bar and chain on it, and ripped through wood like a knife through butter!

Mark always saved the huge bottoms of the trees he cut and processed them into boards. The chainsaw left them jagged and rough, but after a run through a planer, they were glamorous boards. And, Bristolwood boards!

We stacked hundreds of board feet of oak boards outside with little sticks made of plywood between them and covered them with tarps. They were outside for years, and then one day, we took them all into the garage. The upstairs has some of the prettiest boards….all similar to “diamonds in the rough”. When Mark needs a board,  we can usually find a suitable one up there!

If you remember the little cabinet I showed on my blog here , this was made by Mark from some of our own wood!

And, here is the view of the woods behind the house.  The oaks like to hang onto their leaves well into the winter. The leaves on the ground are so beautiful, but they are not very good underfoot while cutting firewood. Because they tend to be a bit slippery, it is so important to use caution!

Mark had a little trouble with leaves and the ATV yesterday. A couple of times, he was fooled by the leaves, thinking he was on solid ground, only to find himself hung up. Thankfully, he was able to navigate (a skill learned from several years’ experience of riding) his way out of a precarious situation. He also found the wheels spinning a couple of times, unable to grip into the soil because of the excessive leaf covering!

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As you can see in the above photo, the little Lilac bush in the side yard is still sporting green leaves!

My head is a bit stuffed up this morning….I do believe those fumes from the two-stroke engines do that. Hopefully, the rain will either hold off or break a bit so we can get into the woods and grab some more wood.  I will post a photo from the woodshed later today!