We are late in starting the Annual Festival of Wood. Here it is the first full day of Autumn, and all I’ve done is shift a fifth of a cord of ash closer to the side porch for easy access during winter storms. But soon, four cords will be gracing my driveway, and I’ll be stacking.
Yes, I know that woodpiles, species, burning abilities, good vendors, or bad doesn’t make for sparkling repartee in many circles. However, put two strangers from disparate ends of a political or economic spectrum together and watch what happens when they discover that they are both wood burners.
The Republican, Democrat, Communist, or Libertarian distinctions give way to frank and open discourse about preferred species, wood sellers’ admirable and disreputable nature. Then they both sneer at the boutique end of the trade – those who sell kiln-dried, debarked wood for a premium price. “And talking about price, how much a cord did you pay this year?”

The conversation then verges into talk about stoves, their good, bad and ugly. This is an integral part of the conversation because your stove, stovepipe, or chimney can be the lethal end of the whole affair with wood. You are now into the nitty-gritty about chimney sweeping – do it yourself or have a sweep come? “By the way, how much do you pay, and do they do a good inspection?”
By now, spouses have wandered away in dismay, and other party-goers begin to avoid the two crusty types snapping suspenders and looking for a spittoon. Finally, any remaining vestige of the current century flees in dismay as the two begin to discourse on creating quality, stable stacks that aerate the wood.
Flee while you can before they attempt to convert you to their belief system.

10 Replies to “Firewood”

  1. Lou, you are a master at converting divergent words into a cohesive and interesting whole. Who else could make stacking wood into an essay we enjoy reading? Another good’un.

    1. The house is old and never was properly insulated. Central New England can be pretty cold in the winter. I went through four cords last year – down from five because we completed an insulation project. This January we are continuing our insulation project, and hope to see another decrease in wood burning.

    1. OK! so what do you prefer for wood? Last year I was lucky enough to get a load of white ash that burns hot and clean. The ash trees are being killed by the Emerald borer, so what I received was probably from a salvage cut. this year I’ll mostly get red oak; another wood with good BTU’s.

      1. Australian hardwoods burn well. Spotted Gum burns hot but leaves no coals. Red or Grey Ironbark burn hot and leave great coals and embers for easy relight on cold mornings. Second favourite is Yellow Stringybark which I have a lot of. I leave Tallowwoods as they have a lot of moisture and take a long time to dry before using otherwise they put residue in the flue. Grey Gums are Koala food so they are left as well unless have come down in a storm.
        The main rule for Australian hardwoods is to leave for at least a year to dry completely to lessen the chance of a build up of gunk in the chimney or flue.

      2. We also generally wait a year too.
        There are lots of softwoods in North America that get burned far to the north of me because that’s really all they have. Folks who burn things like spruce and pines regularly have to clean their chimney multiple times in winter due to the residue.
        it’s interesting exchanging information with you – it’s all very different, but also very much the same!

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