I am definitely a country girl that loves to garden, quilt, preserve, hunt, and read. I love my family more than anything in the world. I live with my husband of fifty years. We have a son, daughter, granddaughter and grandson. We live on a 500+ acre farm in Virginia with about 75 cows & bulls, thirty chickens, and three dogs.
The last two weeks Eddie has been cutting next year’s winter firewood at a friend’s place down the road. Our friend had about twenty locust trees hanging over his hayfield. He told Eddie he could have it if he cut it down, cut it up and cleaned the limbs from the field. Locust is a really good heating wood, and we don’t have a lot on the farm. I wasn’t allowed to help with this as it was green trees that were covered with poison oak, and I am very allergic.
He brought in seven eight-foot truck beds full. I didn’t even help unload it. He hopes that it will dry quickly, and the bark will fall off before we get ready to split it. It’s extremely heavy because the trees were still alive.
It’s a great start to our wood supply but this year we have used up nine of ten loads and its only February. We will be on the search for down and dead wood to finish out the season and to add to next year’s warmth.
We cut our firewood 6-9 months before we plan to use it so it can “season”. This means it needs to dry thoroughly before using it in your home woodstoves. After the would is split, we stack it on heavy plastic and let it air during the entire summer, only covering it when it’s calling for rain. Having it out in the open, facing north and west winds and at least 12=15 hours of sunlight on it helps it dry fast even when it’s stacked.
When the weather starts to change in the fall, we cover it with a 20 ft. x 60 ft. tarp. We place heavy logs around the bottom and slabs on the top to keep the tarp on as much as possible. The wind fights all winter and we do have a woodhouse to store it in, but it dries much better and faster outside in the sun. Any, if any, of the outdoor stack will be put in the woodhouse for following winters.
If not seasoned the creosote from wet wood will build up in your stove, stove pipe and the chimney and the result will be a major fire in the chimney that can burn your home down. Years ago, we had a flue fire that sounded like a freight train outdoors but was in our chimney. Luckily, I was home and called a friend of ours to tell me what to do. I needed to let the fire burn and shut off, burn and shut off. By shut off, I mean, open the stove to let air get to the fire and gradually let it burn until the creosote burnt up and burnt the fire out. I was scared out of my mind. It was a season of warm days, then cold days, and more of the same over a couple weeks’ time. We weren’t burning the stove hot enough to keep it from building up the creosote. The next warm day, Eddie got out the chimney cleaning brushes, took the stove pipe loose and worked several hours to clean the two-story chimney thoroughly. The rest of the season if we had a fire and it got too warm in the house, I opened the windows a bit instead of letting the fire burn completely out because it was very cold in the morning and late at night but warm during the day and early evening.
This is the house we had before we moved to the family farm. It was our first year there and we had lots of work to do to it and the chimney with the fire was in the front middle section of the house and went up through two stories and attic. We moved from there in 2002, I think, and have been in our existing home since then. It was long after we moved that I found out that the first house was built by John Caldwell and the date is on the chimney (1800+). John would have been Eddie’s great, great, great uncle!!!
We are fortunate to have plenty of forest land on our farm and are able to cut all we need for the coming heating season. As you can tell from the photo we start early and usually right after deer season. We cut while the trees are dormant or dead. It’s faster to season the wood if it’s dormant and we try not to cut when it’s wet.
Last spring, we had lots of green trees that are wild cherry trees. These trees can be deadly to our cattle if they are leafed out. The wind can blow down a tree and when the leaves wilt and the cattle can get to them. They’ll eat every limb clean of the wilted leaves which are toxic. It makes for great firewood and last spring we found a large group of them along a pasture fence, so we decided to take them all down. There were plenty of oak and maple trees that will get plenty of light to grow tall and strong where the cherry wood was taken down.
We fall the trees on one day, cut it into 32-36 inch lengths the next day and haul to our splitting area at the house. When we get a large pile built up, we spend several hours splitting and stacking on old tin sheets. We try to keep it off the ground because the wood will draw moisture from the ground, and it will not dry.
A lot of the trees we cut will have small limbs about 4 inches around that do not have to be split. Six inch and up will be split at least in half, quartered and even smaller. It is easier to get in the stove at this width and it also dries much faster when split smaller.
We have a 1970 4×4 Dodge pickup with an 8-foot bed that we use to haul in the wood. It usually takes 15 – 20 loads to do for the winter and that’s stacked as high on the truck as the pickup can usually handle. As big as the truck is, it still gets around in the woods really good.
We’re late getting started this year and need to get some more fencing repaired before we start cutting again. I love going to the woods to bring in firewood. When you’re in the woods you’re back to nature in a really awesome way and we have together time doing it. Eddie cuts them down, limbs them up and I load them on the truck!!! Togetherness in so many ways!!!