It’s fall, and up north that means putting the deck furniture away and stacking the firewood high. My personal woodpile is not one of necessity to stay warm during the winter months, nor one that was actually assembled with much effort. Throughout the summer I leisurely cut and split about a cord of wood in preparation for the maple syrup season the following February.
A few days back I posted a picture on Facebook along with the Thoreau quote: “Every man looks upon his wood pile with a sort of affection.” As I kept checking back to see how many likes and comments it generated as validation of my self worth, I began to reflect back on the pile and its genesis. It did have something to say…
“The Beaver Tree”
Just a short walk from the cabin is a 400-foot beaver dam that’s been around for ten years or so. You don’t build a dam that long without felling a lot of nearby trees. A lot. These logs with the grey ends came from a tree over a foot in diameter that the beavers took care of. I cut the logs to size a year before splitting them and the grey ends came from dirt spashling up on them as they spent a year on the ground.
How small should you go?
If you’re cutting and splitting 20 cord of wood a year, you mostly don’t bother much with the smaller limbs. There reaches a point with the chainsaw when you’re cutting up the branches that you say “okay, too small to cut and stack, we’ll leave the rest to the forest floor or kindling wood.” But with the limited pile that I have and the puttering pace at which I assemble it, that diameter cutoff point is pretty small.
A good amount of the logs split perfectly straight with one whack of the axe. But there are those gnarly, aboreally arthritic ones that just aren’t worth the trouble to split. I had a few of those nasties this year. They could be a bit big for the wood stove, maybe better for a summer camp fire, you throw them on the pile and figure it out later. Fugetaboutit!
The Apple Tree
There was one tree in this year’s haul that was a tough call, an apple tree that had grown close to the west end of the cabin. It leaned at nearly a 45 degree angle and produced very small, inedible apples each summer. The area around the cabin was feeling a bit closed in and the view to the open field was affected. So I decided to cut it down after 22 years. There are only two other apple trees that I know of in the rest of the 60 acres of surrounding woods, so I was sad to see it go.
But, to every thing there is a season.