|Most of our firewood for the year.|
We heat and cook with wood, and burn about 10 cords each year. One cord of wood is a stack measuring 8’x4’x4’. (We live in a little frame cabin now. Once we get our log cabin built, we’ll go through much less wood.) Today I finally did something I’m terribly embarrassed to admit that I’ve never done before. I learned to split wood with a splitting maul! I know. With a blog like this, you’d think splitting firewood would be a daily thing for me. I’ve learned lots of skills living in the Alaskan bush, and now at last, splitting wood is one more! It may seem silly, but I felt such a sense of accomplishment.
All these years, I’ve depended on my husband to take care of the wood. How foolish of me! What if something happened to him and he wasn’t here, or was injured and couldn’t do it? I know I could manage, but an emergency is the worst possible time to learn a necessary skill. It isn’t that I’ve never thought of it before. I just “never got around to it”. Very unwise.
Today the thermometer read 33 degrees below zero, and since wood splits easier when it’s really cold, I decided now was a good time to learn. But when I went outside and asked him to teach me, he just handed over the splitting maul, set a piece of wood up for me and said, “There ya go”. I asked how far away to stand. He said, “Far enough so you hit the wood”. Well, that was certainly helpful! I asked how to hold the maul. He said, “However it works best for you”. Clearly, he wasn’t about to make this any easier for me.
He was actually happy that I wanted to learn to split wood, but he has split so much of it over the years that it was about like trying to explain to someone how to talk. To him, you just swing the maul, hit the wood, then pick up the pieces. To me, this was some highly technical skill that required detailed training (kind of like whitewashing a fence). However, it didn’t take long to get the hang of things, and to realize that the old saying is right --- “Wood warms you twice. Once when you split it, and again when you burn it.”
Last summer, Chuck began teaching me to use the chainsaw. I need to get back on that and practice. I don’t want to depend on it, though. I want to learn to do everything required to get the wood in --- cut down the tree, cut it into lengths, haul it in (with the dog), and split it, all without depending on a gas engine. I know nothing about motors. They make me feel so helpless when they don’t work, and I hate feeling helpless. Another reason I don’t want to depend on a gas engine for anything is that affordable gas may not (probably will not) be available in the not-so-distant future.
Splitting wood today made me feel a bit more independent. It’s the same feeling you get from hauling your own water from a spring rather than turning on a faucet. Or picking wild greens for a salad and cauliflower from your garden rather than driving to the grocery store and picking it from the produce counter. Or serving meat or fish for supper that you killed or caught yourself rather than buying a neat little 2-pound package of it at the store. It just feels good.
|Hauling firewood is easier and faster in the winter. We use this|
homemade sled Chuck built mostly from an old fuel drum.