Here’s another firewood post. No reason really, just telling the story.
In August I got the bug to store up some firewood. We have a firepit (well, fire pan, actually) in the back yard, and we’ve gotten into the habit this year of spending time out there with a fire going in the evenings when it gets cool. I used to buy firewood, and it was getting pretty low. My wife bought me a chainsaw for my birthday (yeah, I know, it’s a strange gift, but I like it). So in August we went out and collected firewood from Craigslist ads. I wrote about that already. By the end of the month we had about a cord of wood laid in. If you don’t know what a cord is, it’s a stack of wood four feet by four feet by eight feet. That’s a lot of wood.
So you’d think I’d be set, except that most of what we collected was from freshly cut trees and needs to season a while. By next spring most of it will be ready, but right now it’s almost all too green to burn. There were a few branches we’d picked up off a curb that were old and dry, but that was only about 1/6 of the total, and by the end of September that was getting low too. I found myself in the frustrating position of having two tons of firewood I could use next year, but very little I could use NOW. At the rate we were going, I’d be out of usable wood by the end of fall, and nothing for the fireplace in the winter.
So it was off to Craigslist again, where we found an ad from someone who had a bunch of old junk wood in a random pile behind his ramshackle house. In the picture the wood was all gray. Great, it’s old, it should be dry. We took my wife’s little SUV on Sunday to grab some.
We got there and found a big field of mud (it had rained torrents the previous day) with a lot of wood that was too far rotted to bother with. But right at the edge of the pile there were a few big logs. They looked awful – wet and muddy from the rain, bark long gone, blackened and sort of slimy. But I thought maybe that might just be on the surface. We took a single huge log, four feet long by about 16 inches in diameter. I had to cut it into two pieces before we could lift it into the car.
Well, when we got it home and split it up. we wound up with about 35 pieces of beautiful dry red oak. That gross ugly log yielded some of the best wood we have. I’ve burned a little of it, and it give nice steady fires that last a long time. That should get us through fireplace season, and by spring some of the other stuff should be ready. But just to be prepared, I’m going back next weekend and seeing if we can grab one or two more of these.
There’s something oddly rewarding about sitting by a fire of wood you cut, split, and stacked yourself. It’s different from making a phone call and having some guy dump a truckload of wood in your driveway. I don’t know why that is, but it’s sure making those firepit evenings a lot more fun.