Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Lake is Back, and Wood

It rained all day yesterday, and so I expected to see that the lake is back when it got light this morning.  And it was.

This low lying area fills with water every time it rains heavily.  Last summer I got 10 inches of rain in 2 days, and boy that was a nice lake!  This area drains slowly under the best circumstances, so I'm guessing the soil underneath is clayey.  Since everything is frozen now, I expect this water/ice will be here until the next thaw, which may be March.  It's inconvenient, but doesn't actually harm anything, so having something done about this is pretty low on my list.

You can see that the snowplows clear themselves a nice-sized turnaround.  They've cleared off about 10 feet of my yard here, which doesn't bother me at all, since it includes a fair part of my driveway too.  Down the hill in the city, the snow is virtually all melted off, but as you can see, it's mostly still here at my place, except in the windy areas.  Now it's icy snow.

I'm going to start into the last row of wood in the woodshed this week.  I think this will last about 3 weeks, which means I'll have to start into the outside wood mid-to end- of February.  Boy I wish I would have gotten a tarp that covers all of the outside wood instead of just using the too-small tarp that I had!

This is the first year that I used wood that I put into the woodshed.  Last year, the previous owner had left me some wood that I used, so I really didn't know how much wood was there.  This year I know.  There were 2 cords in the woodshed, which I now know is not enough. Next year I'll go for 3 cords of wood.

Here's another time vs money decision.  I think that as long as I have a good-paying job and homesteady setup things that take most of my time, I will probably buy wood instead of cutting and splitting my own.  I spent a freakin' huge amount of time last year trying to cut my own wood with the wrong type of chainsaw (I didn't know anything about chainsaws, so just bought what the guy at the hardware store recommended, which was a mistake.  He recommended and I bought - a chainsaw designed for hobby, pruning work.  It gets like 15 cuts before I have to fill the gas tank, and 45 cuts before I have to have the chain sharpened.)  I have a better chainsaw now, but also have a healthy appreciation of how much work it takes to cut and split my own wood.  That's why, as long as I have a choice, I don't want to do it.  Sorry.  I feel like a wimp, like less of a homesteader, but that's the way I feel about cutting and splitting wood.


  1. I think you're a SMART homesteader for coming to the realization that you can better spend your time and energy elsewhere rather than trying to cut your year's wood supply yourself. We all need to make wise decisions like that. Even if it's a task you could easily do, but hate doing, you're gonna come out better in the end by paying/bartering/trading someone else to do the chore thereby freeing yourself up to do something else that either gives you feel-goods and energizes you or that you can do in a more efficient manner (than struggling with the wood cutting).

    One of my deficiencies that I struggle with is getting into a rut and thinking I HAVE to do something when if I would just step out of the box and do some intelligent thinking, I'd realize there's always a better way.

  2. Woodcutting does take a fair bit of time, especially without the right tools. You know you can cut wood if you have to. If it makes better sense in terms of your time to buy it, that's a good decision based upon sound financial and time economy. I usually enjoy cutting wood and have the time to do it, but not everyone does.

    That is quite a lake you have there. Don't slip and slide too much on it when it's frozen.

  3. I had a friend in South Carolina that had very little money but lots of time, and he always would choose the cheaper, longer option. Now that I have a better chainsaw, I'll give it a try again this year (after I get a shorter bar) and see if it goes better. I think those things are a bit scary, but it IS very satisfying to look at what I've done after I use it!

  4. Jordan,

    I need to have six trees taken down at my place in VT: 2 maple, 2 oak, and 2 birch.

    Tree guy first suggested I get them split and cut and keep them, if I go ahead with plans to get a wood stove this summer.

    He changed his mind, said I don't want the wood hanging around to season, I don't have the stove yet, etc.

    But I still wonder about asking him to just cut them down and leave them there, until I get around to it, and leave it for me to learn about doing this myself.

    Then I question whether my time is best spent doing what I do best, and let him take the wood.

    Questions, questions, questions.


  5. Kate - what I have been told, and Mama Pea would be a more experienced person to answer this, is that it's OK to leave the trees out for a year to age before you cut it (except the birch which will rot). Consider this: You've written before that you didn't really want to haul wood, so it's possible you may not *ever* want to learn to cut and split wood, since, among other things it takes equipment you will need to buy. Also: price of cut, split and seasoned wood is about $200 a cord around here. I'd have to make about $5-$10 an hour for that to be worth my time. There is an online table you can google to find that says how many cords you have based on the tree diameter. Mama Pea - your thoughts?

  6. My brother likes to cut and split wood with his friends and they borrowed my youngest to run the handle last year. He burns wood alot. 2 summers ago he got a double order of logs-someone screwed up, so we paid him for bringing us a couple of loads cut and split. It lasted us quite a while, since we just burn it in the fireplace when we're home, and not every night. We'll be up for it next year. We don't have the wood of our own, and we have the 'baby chainsaw', so we'll just tell my brother we need more wood and see how that works.

  7. Jordan, I had a carpenter at my VT place, who did work there for a previous owner. I asked him a lot about what to do with a new heat source. Turned out I can put a tiny propane back up on a back wall, if I want to have heat without using wood, such as when I am away. And then put a wood stove where the very old propane stove is in the living room. My place is tiny, so I would not need much. It seemed a lot different to me after that little bit of education. I can haul wood as much or as little as I want to.

  8. My thought on your wood...you can't do everything homestead at once...so why not start with the things you know you'll enjoy learning and doing. Mabye one day you'll want to cut your own wood, and have the time to do it!

  9. Hi, Kate, Mama Pea here. Your 6 trees are all hardwoods which are the most desirable wood for heating. IF you do decide to have the tree guy take down the trees, it would be best to get them cut, split and under cover as soon as possible. It wouldn't be a terrible, awful thing to have them lay whole for a year but the wood won't do much of any drying/seasoning until it is cut and split. Even birch which does tend to rot will keep several years if stacked under cover and kept dry. Those six trees are worth a bit of money for firewood. Got anybody you could invite over (and have them bring their chainsaw!) for a day of wood cutting and splitting? Maybe in return for a nice meal at the end of the day? Or for a portion of the wood? Sounds like a fun day to me . . . and your "helper" would benefit, too.