Paul Bunyan is my New BFF

June 28, 2010

So, I just came in from the back yard.  Or rather, our back stretch of asphalt.  Whoever put in the driveway before we bought the house decided that we needed twelve feet of blacktop in any direction from the house itself.  Comes in handy when I’m under a car, but for other things?  Pain. In. The. Posterior.

So what was I doing out in the sweltering 90-degree 90% humidity?  Trying to stay warm.

Oh, not now.  In January.

One of the first things Vesta and I did when we bought the house was to have a wood stove put in.  I took a picture, but the internets ated it.  So here’s a much nicer installation of the same model, complete with rear heat shield:

Nice, huh?  Ours is not as nicely installed and has a lot more blue in the soapstone, but it is still flushed to the wall. It puts out about 50,000 BTU’s, which they say is enough to heat 1,500 square feet.  We still end up using a space heater on and off upstairs, but it does the job nicely.  We have ours in the living room, and there have been nights in February where we’ve cracked a window to keep it below 85 degrees inside.  Please note, I’m not complaining here.

So a few weeks ago, a friend of my mothers’ calls up and tells me that she has several cherry trees that were trimmed, and would I like the wood?  Expecting a few arm-sized branches, I raced over in the Jeep.  Trimmed, as I found out, was a bit of an understatement.  I found veritable wood burners’ gold:  16+” rounds, pre-cut, that had been down for a couple months, free for the taking.  All told, about a cord and a half, I expect.  Whoopee!!

So I ran home, hitched up the trailer, and four loads later, it was all in my back yard.  Or back black top, whatever.  I’ve been whittling away at it ever since.

In acquiring our wood to burn, I have three main tools at my disposal.

Husqvarna 455 Rancher Chain Saw

7-ton Electric Log Splitter

Fiskars Super Splitter

I’m considering doing a detailed write up on each one of these as I putter along on this blog, incidentally.  I have a couple other odds and ends that help along the way, but these are my big three.  Oh, and a lot of sweat and determination.  I don’t have a lot of land (standard 1/10th of an acre city lot) so I need what I use to be compact and productive.  I don’t have room to store a full sized gas splitter, so I use the electric.  It’s split just about everything I throw at it.  Vesta even gets on on it, it’s so easy to use.

We actually sat down and figured it out on day.  Heating with wood warms you about 10 times.  First by cutting it, then by hauling it, then stacking it, then splitting it, then stacking it, then hauling it, then stacking it, then stacking it again, then burning it, then getting rid of the ashes.  Pretty cost-effective at the free price, I think.  There’s the added benefit of what Vesta calls the Woodburner’s Diet:  eat whatever the hell you want, then cut/split/stack wood for a weekend.  Guaranteed to lose weight.

It’s a ton of work, but in the middle of February when it’s hovering around a balmy no degrees Fahrenheit, and I get the gas bill, I love opening it in my PJ’s in 75 degree comfort to see that it’s only $35 bucks*.

*We still cook with gas, and have a gas clothes dryer, gas (tank) water heater, and we do run the gas furnace for about a half of an hour a day in the morning to take the chill off.  Otherwise, we’d have no gas bill.

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