Monday, May 21, 2007

Starting Early

Yesterday we made our first trip into the forest to cut firewood. We found that we are only a few miles from the boundary and we only had to go 7 miles from our house to find enough for a full truckload.

Here are the stacked rounds that haven't been split yet.

Here is the small but growing pile that was split yesterday.

Paul should have all the rounds split by this coming weekend when we will go for another load. We figure we will only have to make 6 more trip to have more than enough wood for winter. Considering how many trip we had to make while living in CO, this seems almost too easy.

If you are wondering how we can cut wood in a national forest, here is how it works. Each year the USDA sells firewood cutting permits at the Forest Service Offices. It's $10 per cord (4x4x8 split and stacked) with a minimum of 2 cords purchased at a time. Each area is managed a bit differently but here we can go up into the forest from about April 1st to sometime in October. They do restrict cutting times depending on the fire danger, right now we can't cut after 1pm if we are using a chainsaw. There are a bunch of rules about what you can cut and where you can cut, but it's a lot cheaper than buying firewood and very satisfying. All total we figure we spend around $25-30 per cord for all the permits, supplies, and gas. These permits are only for household use, you have to get different permits if you want to sell wood. We went through probably about 2 cords of wood last winter and I want to get 4 stacked this year just so we don't have to worry and be frugal with burning. The great thing about this system is that it not only provides us with a cheap source of heat but it also clears out the fallen and dead trees in the forest, reducing the risk of fire. They still do controlled burns of the forests around here but that also helps the giant sequoias reproduce so it's necessary no matter how much dead wood is taken out.

It's a family affair when we cut and split wood. Paul gets the difficult job of using the chainsaw while the kids and I make a line to carry the rounds to the truck. We found it's a lot easier to have each of us only walk them a few feet to the next person than it is to have all of us tromping back and forth to the truck. When we get home, all four of us unload and stack the rounds. Paul uses an 8lb. maul to split the rounds and the kids stack the wood neatly. After the wood is split, Malachi goes around and picks up all the little pieces that flew off, these are saved for kindling. As much as the kids grumble sometimes about the hard work, they are always willing to help knowing that it's better to do this now and be warm later. My favorite part is the cutting in the forest, I love to watch the wildlife and smell the clean scent of all the trees.


Mumme Mom said...

Growing up we had only wood heat during the winter (southern IN). We lived on a farm and so were able to get our wood free, but we did have to help stack it and carry it in during the winter. I remember my toes would always get sooo cold. I always complained about the work to, but looking back I remember the fresh air and the smell of the wood and how good it felt to be outside.

Marie N. said...

Our hosue a gas fireplace, it is just for show. I love it when I can smell the neighbor's wood-burning fireplace. It is such a homey, comfortable aroma. It brings happy memories of the first home I remember, sitting before the fire with mom, dad and baby brother.