Well, the January thaw made for a nice weekend, even though the skiing suffered a little bit. It was warm enough last Sunday that I actually was able to get the four wheeler going and plow the driveway. I only had to hike in for a week or so, and can now once again drive all the way up to the cabin. I really didn’t mind the hike and since the four-wheeler won’t start unless the temperature is about forty degrees, I’m sure I’ll be hiking in again before winter’s over.
It was also a nice break for the wood stove, and more importantly, my wood supply. Or more specifically, my dry hardwood supply. The stacks of wood were definitely in need of a break.
I have three wood piles. One is out in front of the cabin, under the big window covered by a couple of blue tarps that are pretty tattered. This wood pile rests on top of a bunch of old metal roofing and consists of mostly pine and poplar. There’s some maple in there too, but not much. This is my “junk wood” pile.
The second wood pile is stashed neatly in the shed that is attached to cabin. It is safely ensconced in the shelter of four walls and a cheap but solid roof. There is a heavy wooden door with a massive iron latch to keep the elements out, and other than soft snow that gets blown in through some cracks, the wood is well protected. This pile is all cherry, maple, oak and ash. The third wood pile is in front of the shed, split and drying, waiting to be added to as I cut more trees for next year’s wood supply.
This fall, I actually had to buy some wood from a guy I work with. The supply I cut last year was pathetically small, and once summer rolled around, I figured it was too late to have dry wood for the winter. I stacked about a cord and half of the stuff I had done in the shed, and then had two cords delivered. This all went in the shed as well. I left the junk wood out in front and figured I could mix a little in here and there. But I also figured I wouldn’t have to do that until some time in February. It’s now the middle of January and I’ve been mixing in junk wood for almost a month.
I figured wrong on how much wood I would need this year. But now that I’ve been paying attention, I know how much to do for next year. My little four-hundred square foot cabin will need five cords of wood to heat. This seems like a lot to me, and it seems like a lot of work. I have also vowed to myself that I will not be paying for firewood next year, because, you know, I live in the woods.
But the amount of wood I’ll need to lay in for next winter is far more than can fit in the shed. I’ll have to build a new wood shed, but one that is not attached to the cabin. I’m going to build big so that I have some room for extra wood plus a little storage. This is one project I can do for free from building materials that are just lying around here. It’s not going to be pretty or square or level, but it’ll be tough enough to hold up. There’s a good spot with southern exposure where I’m going to build, and the new shed will hold a prominent place in my yard. This way, everyone will be able to bask in its functionality.
The plan is to take a bunch of small pines and spruces for the upright supports and use old metal roofing. There are huge old planks of wood scattered around that will make perfect sides. No piece of lumber out here is the same width and thickness, so I can safely say that this wood shed will have some character to it. The very short lean-to is like that, as is the front porch with the unintentionally swooping roof. Yup, that misshapen wood shed is going to fit right in.
Photo: A full cord (courtesy Wikimedia user JKBrooks85)