We heat our home with a wood stove in the living room. Wood heating is a kind of domestic commitment that doesn’t suit all lifestyles. One has to be there to keep the home fires burning. Wood needs to be cut, split, stacked, and often restacked. It is heavy and messy. But it is homemade heat, free for the taking, and it suits the pattern of our life.
One of the challenges in having wood heat is preparing it far enough in advance. I prefer for wood to season for one year before burning it. Wet logs are hard to kindle, and when they do burn, much of the heat is wasted on evaporating internal moisture. So midwinter finds us busy cutting the firewood we’ll be burning this time next year.
This year we are using primarily maple for firewood. We have a patch of maple trees growing on some wet ground, really too wet for them to thrive. Every tree in this group has a rotted core. The trees seem to all fall over when they hit the 40 year mark, wiping out the young oak trees nearby. Since the oaks aren’t prone to rot, I’m taking out all the frail maples and leaving the more robust oaks. This is forest succession at work, just with a little push from me to speed it up.
I’ve been quite pleased with a simple modification I made to the log splitter. Our splitter never had much room for logs, so it created extra work picking up and repositioning pieces of wood. I went through my pile of metal offcuts and welded up a small platform next to the cutter where I can stack a few chunks of wood, working on them all at one time. It works beautifully and my back appreciates the change.