Sunday, November 7, 2010

Great feeling to have next summer's wood ready

Our son Josh was at camp for a couple of weeks this fall and he managed to split, stack and cover what should be next year's supply of firewood.

Here he stands amid some of the 10 cords of aspen firewood.

The trees were felled by the crew that installed our new septic system last spring. September was the first occasion we had to buck-up the trees into stove lengths.

In the Boreal Forest we don't have the great firewood species of trees that most of our guests from the States enjoy. We simply burn whatever is available. For years following a spruce budworm infestation, we burned balsam fir because there were dead, dry balsam all around the camp. It has about the lowest heat value but the standing trees are an extreme fire hazard so we had to get rid of them.

When we go looking for firewood by boat we usually get dead standing jackpine or white spruce.

Quaking aspen such as the huge pile split up by Josh burns about as well as pine or spruce. But it always must be cut green and then split and dried. You never find a dry aspen on the stump. Dead trees are always punky.

White birch is our species with the most heat value but it also must be cut and dried for at least six months before using. The birch bark is very resistant to rot and is also waterproof (that's why it was used by the native people for canoes.) You can find hollow lengths of birchbark in the forest where the tree has fallen down, it's inside rotted away and nothing is left but the bark.

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Mike said...

That must be a great feeling - bet your son sweated a bit getting that lot split and stacked.

You mentioned birch bark - you know it is also the best natural fire lighter going? As you said it is water proof, so you can wipe the moisture off and still light it easily. Great tip for wet weather.

If you have it available in such large quantities and easily available you might gather some for lighting fires in your wood stove.

Dan B. said...

Hi Mike,
Josh did indeed burn some calories on this job. He is in the peak of physical condition but was pretty beat each night after swinging a splitting maul all day.
He split up about 10 cords here and for folks unfamiliar with firewood talk, a cord is a pile of wood four feet high by four feet wide by eight feet long - 4 x 4 x 8.
Our firewood is cut into 16-inch lengths; so, a cord is three rows of split firewood, each four feet high and eight feet long.
Thanks, Mike, for mentioning birch bark is the ultimate fire starter.
It ignites exactly as you said.
I would suggest people use this fact as a survival tip or just to start their shore lunch fires out on the rocks.
It's not a good idea to be stripping bark from the trees around camp as it defaces them.
Also, never cut the bark from the tree with a knife as this can kill the tree.
We have lots of newspaper for lighting fires in our wood stoves.
Just ask at the lodge.