Warm as wood

Don
Don MacLean
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Henry David Thoreau in his classic book Walden, published in 1854, wrote that firewood warmed you twice. Once when you cut it and a second time when you burned it.
As much as I admire Thoreau's writings on simplicity and self reliance I think he was wrong. Wood warms you when you cut it, when you split it, when you pile it, haul it into the house, when you burn it and finally when you haul out the ashes.
I've been warmed many times in the last month or so as I worked on my wood pile. It is a fact of life in Nova Scotia that just as you finish one winter you have to begin getting ready for the next one. I don't mind as I enjoy working at the wood pile, especially when I think about how much money I am saving while I am doing it.
Wood has several factors to recommend it as a fuel to heat your home. First it is renewable and, with proper management, new trees should grow to replace the ones you cut. Also, as those trees are growing they are producing oxygen, and using up carbon dioxide to help reduce greenhouse gases.
If you are fortunate enough to have access to a wood lot you can manage the woods, and harvest your firewood, in a sustainable manner. If, like me, you have to purchase your wood you have several options, buy it in eight foot lengths or buy it already cut and split.
My father, who is fond of saying that there is no sense getting old if you don't get smart along with it purchases his wood cut and split. His son, who hasn't reached the smart stage yet buys it in eight foot length and as a result must cut and split it himself.
Cutting, hauling and splitting takes a lot of work and time as well as a few tools. The first is a power saw. Although I grew up using a power saw and cut a few cords of pulp as a young fellow I still have great respect for a power saw and consider it the most dangerous tool you can use.
Proper safety equipment is a must as well as your full attention at all times. Secondly, make sure the chain is sharp, a dull saw is both frustrating and dangerous. Once the wood is bucked into stove lengths the work is half done.
Fire wood must be split and dried to gain its full benefit as fuel. I always used to split my wood with a splitting maul or wedge and sledge hammer. But the last few years I began renting, and last year purchased a hydraulic wood splitter. I guess some of my Father is finally rubbing off on me. The splitter works great, and turns what was a great deal of work into a much more manageable task.
Finally piling the wood, off the ground and in an area where the warm summer winds, and sun, will dry it completes the drying process. When I look at my wood pile I must admit to a certain level of satisfaction that, regardless of world events, at least we will be warm next winter.
I think Thoreau would be pleased.

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