This blog contains 1000 posts. Posting has become unwieldy. Your blogista has ceased adding new posts. My still-active links are here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


One of the things we do when it's too wet to play in the garden, and in between other projects, is get in wood. This used to involve sharpening the gasoline powered chain saw, fire up the pickup, go get a permit, head forty miles into the mountains, compete with other homesteaders for the picked-over trashwood on the landing, load up, and drive the groaning truck back down the sharp mountain curves, trying not to run over other, often not dirt-road-wise, permittees scrabbling their way up the washboard gravel.

We're a little too old for that. But still cooking on wood. Our own place provides a lot of small hardwood, one to six inches in diameter, select "logged" with an electric saw or even, some of it, pruners. But never enough.

So we talk with suppliers, select one (they come and go fast in the cutthroat, low-margin field), stack what they bring, and season it. This requires thinking ahead.

The bin on the right is hardwood, much of which we cut ourselves at home, last year. We plan to start in on it in the fall. If we're careful enough in how we dole it out, it could almost last the winter. It's just shy of two cords. The bin on the left, just stacked, is Douglas fir. It's thinnings from a thirty-acre managed forest, and green, i.e., full of the water the trees were living on. This has to evaporate somewhat -- fir will burn green but it's not good for your chimney -- or the atmosphere.

Burning wood for heat and cooking has some environmental drawbacks, in particular the production of black ash that drifts onto distant snowfields, reducing albedo and adding to premature snow- and ice-melt. We agreed, some time ago, with our electric co-op, to buy all wind power for our place, we are well insulated, we turn off lights a lot, use LEDs where we can, so we're all right running a single infrared or oil-filled space heater in fall and spring and, increasingly, in winter. We also looking at a through-the wall heat pump. So we don't use half as much wood as we once did. With a rocket mass heater we'd do even better.

What our heat ain't, is coal, nuclear, or heating oil, 'k?

But sometimes the power goes off. Or temperatures just swing past what the heater is up for. Today, we're at 42F with hail and wind chill -- and that wind is coming down from a snow line that has dropped to 2500 feet. We're at 500. I'm throwing another chunk of maple in the stove.

What must the poor tomatoes think of us? Suckered again, as usual, by an almost two-week stretch in the 80s.

The spring things are loving it, though, so we are emphasizing salads.

Here we have two kinds of lettuce (from six planted), broadbean leaves, spinach, curly kale, chard, collards, snap peas, chive blossoms, and a radish.

If we sit close enough to the thumping wood stove we can pretend it's a summer salad.


Related Posts with Thumbnails