Campfires, woodstoves, and fireplaces have to eat in order to heat! The best fuel must be dry and available when it is needed. That means some early preparation is necessary.
Cutting and splitting firewood is a “rite of passage”. Not everyone has the skills to use a powerful chainsaw safely. Axes and splitting mauls can be dangerous in an instant.
Felling a tree for firewood is an impressive and empowering event. Place a stick in the ground where you plan for the tree to fall. Start with smaller trees, then work up to the larger ones. I prefer oak or hardwoods as my wood of the day. Pine and soft woods burn quickly and don’t produce as much heat. If all you have is pine, double the size of your wood pile.
Seasoned wood is a much better fuel than freshly cut wood. Even if the tree is dead, it will need to be split and stacked correctly. 6 months to a year is the average time needed to dry or season your wood. Keep in mind how you plan to prepare your wood pile and stack the freshest wood for the last fires.
Splitting wood is a great way to feel the power of woodcutting. Placing a log onto a stump and splitting it with one fell swoop is cool. I never get tired from watching a log fall into perfectly split firewood! Sometimes you need to use a wedge and a maul to break through the knots and tight grain. Swinging a maul accurately and safely reminds of the railroad builders like John Henry.
Power splitters are for Wussies! The new generation of wood cutters would choose any tool that allows them to do things faster and with less effort. They would use a cell phone app to split wood if they could. Then they would be off to jog on a treadmill and exercise at the spa! A real Man or Woman works out at the wood pile!
Safety is paramount when cutting wood. I wear chainsaw pants that will stop the chain from cutting into my leg if the saw slips too close. A helmet, eye protection, face screen, and gloves are standard equipment. Steel-toed boots are also vital. Wearing this gear and taking your time will save trips to the Doctor.
Be observant and plan for an emergency. See the accident before it happens and prevent it. Look for overhanging obstacles, dead wood, and critter evidence. Bees, squirrels, snakes, and small mammals also enjoy dead trees.
Fatigue and speed will bite you every time. I am not as fast as I once was but I still have all of my body parts and health. Baby Boomers may be slower but we can still provide for our families and friends. I will be sad when I have to order a precut and seasoned load of firewood. So far, I can still manage my own wood!
Celebrate and enjoy the tradition and ritual of gathering your Winter Wood. You will enjoy the fall hunting and fishing season better knowing that you are done with your chores. Now you can tell your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, or significant other to “C’mon Baby, light my Fire”!
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