This is one of a series of articles on my recent experiences burning wood to heat my home. You can read the earlier articles by clicking on the links below:
I have learned that wood must be moved several times during processing operations, and much of the effort of wood heating simply involves the act of moving it around. It seems that each chunk of wood must be moved a minimum of three times, although 4-5 times seems to be more common as I am still figuring out the best way to manage the whole process.
Actually, I am not so much managing the process just yet. I am inventing it. My mind is often taken up with figuring the most efficient layout for the various piles, scheming to find the materials to build the sheds and platforms, planning the placement and construction of each, and flowcharting it all in my head. None of it happens spontaneously. Unless I pick it up and make it happen, the wood just sits there until is sprouts mushrooms and returns back to the soil, it’s BTU’s unused. The brainpower required really is enormous. It's a good thing I have plenty to spare.
At this point, the process looks kind of like this:
Once dumped out of the truck or trailer, the large chunks must be moved to the splitting area. I usually will do this a few at a time as I need them. Once split, the logs must be moved to a drying area. For this I am using my main woodshed (actually, a platform). Since the main woodshed is still full of this year's fuel, I am preparing a secondary drying area on a group of wood pallets nearby. Once the wood in the woodshed is depleted, the pile of recently split logs on the pallets will replace it and will remain there to dry until next winter.
The main woodshed is a walk of perhaps 100 feet from the back door. Not bad in the summer, but verging on the inconvenient in 10 below January weather, with the snow hip deep. To make that trip daily to haul up the day's heat may get tedious. Therefore I have plans to stage the dried wood to a smaller intermediate woodshed near our back door. Then a load or two at a time, it will be brought inside to warm up – apparently placing cold wood in the stove is a waste of energy. Then it will finally be placed in the stove to burn.
So, my latest project is building that small woodshed on the back porch. The plan is for this woodshed to hold several weeks of split, dried wood, carried up from the main woodshed. It is about 5 steps from the back sliding door, and when finished will be covered with a modest overhanging roof and some kind of tarpaulin door to keep out blowing snow. It will be a new chore for my girls to bring up wood once or twice a week to keep this woodshed well stocked. From here it will be easy to bring it inside.
Once inside, I plan to build a small wood box that will hold one or two days worth of wood. Once placed in the box, any ice or snow can melt off, and the firewood can achieve room temperature before being placed into the firebox. I expect this box will be 3-4 feet long, perhaps 2 and a half feet front to back and about 2 and a half feet deep, with a hinged lid. It will also be the girls’ job to keep this full.
It is something to think of all those trees, growing here and there, all coming down and being cut into pieces. Then they come to my house and are broken into still smaller pieces. Then little by little they flow into my home and into my wood stove to keep my family warm. Every single piece moved by me, with the help of some good friends on occasion.
It is an amazing and gratifying thought.