At the beginning of winter, I take a long look at the wood ranks waiting to heat the house. The oil-burning furnace gets used about one hour every day, and then only until the wood fire is brought back up in the morning. Come February, I’ll gaze out over the snow-covered streets in my neighborhood and pity my neighbors getting their second oil delivery of the month. Meeting in the street my fellow wood burners and I can enjoy a brief moment of comradely fellowship due to our wise choice of fuel.
Normally you wouldn’t suspect that there’d be avarice driving deep splitting wedges among wood burners, but there is. My wood is better than your wood. My wood seller is more reliable than yours. Even I have more wood than you do.
These last two years, it’s been especially bad for my woodburning friends. My long rows are of ash, cherry, red oak, and hickory. Theirs are of birch poplar and maple. Their claims that the wood in their rows is as good as that in mine ring hollow.
There have been attempts to pirate my supplier, but he claims he can’t supply more than he already does.

On New Year’s Eve, we’ll invite these friends over for a party. I’ll coyly watch their expressions as I feed the stove with hunks of cherry, a bit of hickory, and a slab of ash.
Then in the glow of the fire, I’ll wish them health, wealth, and better wood in the coming new year.


7 Replies to “Firewood”

  1. Many years ago, when we first moved into our house, my dogs kept going to our fireplace and barking. When I listened, I could hear wings flapping. Scared me and creeped me out at the same time. Eventually it stopped, but in good conscience, I just could not light a fire.

    1. We have a cap on the chimney that mostly prevents that. But every once in a while I have to take the lower section of the stovepipe apart to get some poor sparrow out. Xenia is particularly aggrieved at me when the poor bird is released to the outdoors. She is not a birder, but feels that if it’s in the house it belongs to her.

    1. Your concerns are well warranted, but I live in a part of the USA that has a greater tree cover than anytime since the 1840’s, and I am not releasing fossil carbon into the air, the carbon I release was stored 50 – 60 years ago.
      In addition carbon storage in forrests actually peaks, and then declines as the tract achieves and passes maturity. I’ve spent some time talking about this with some colleagues who are conservation agents and foresters, and It’s just a bit more complicated than planting trees.
      But you are correct that some of the mass deforestations are just terrible for our world ecology and need to be reversed.
      As always Mason you provoke thought!

    1. Pests can travel on and in wood. My wood is cut in the local towns around me ( about a 10 – 15 mile circumference ), and other than emerald ash borer is mostly pest free. And most of the ash I get is from salvage cutting of ash killed by the borer, so it needs to be cleared.

      Not too far from me a state forbids the entry of firewood from out of state to prevent invasive pests.

      Kiln drying would certainly kill the pests, and I know that in some cities Kiln dried, debarked wood is offered for sale as an “artisan” product. but I heat with wood, in part because it’s an affordable, and pleasing alternative to oil and gas. I pay about $300 per cord of wood. Kiln dried, debarked wood ran about $450 per quarter cord last time I looked. Not an economical heating option. It’s a esthetic for the wealthy.

      That being said I can really appreciate why an island nation like the UK would want to carefully control wood borne pests. As far as sidestepping? Wherever there are humans there is someone trying to sidestep something. As the American author Mark Twain said “Conscience is that little voice saying that someone is watching.”

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