The guy who said ‘he who heats with wood is warmed twice’ never had a wood stove

February 26, 2013

Randomness. A blog by Patrick McClellan. patrick mcclellan

  1. First off, you have to find your chainsaw and then sharpen it; which can lead to some pretty heated frustration.
  2. You then walk out into the woods with said chainsaw. If you are out of shape, this is a “breather” for sure.
  3. Felling creates a special sweat all its own. Which way will it land? Every Michigander has his or her (mostly her) favorite felling story.
  4. Bucking, in my experience, is the most dangerous of all and kind of a gantlet of sorts. I like to limb and buck the wood into stove-size chunks at the same time. This makes for lots of stumbling over these round chunks you make, getting snagged by brush, poked in the eyes with limbs and getting your bar pinched due to unknown tension on the tree you are cutting. Always take two chainsaws for this reason alone! Chainsaws should be sold in pairs: “Would you like one or two pair of chainsaws, sir?” the salesman should say, “Or are you the desperate type?” The other reasons you buy two or more is, as one ol’timer in the U.P. once said to me: “I buy the brand that the guy down the road sells and services because a lotta tings go wrong wit dem tings.” I am convinced that most people join the armed services to get away from running a chainsaw, or at least learn the words to say to a chainsaw. But I digress. Back to bucking. Note: do NOT, under any circumstances, let young ones use your chainsaws! They will cut into the dirt twice as much as you do and they WILL leave your chainsaw lay “somewhere” (they never need to do step one). The Red ones are easy to find, the Orange ones are too. Don’t buy a green one. However, the main reason to never let them touch your saw (sorry, I meant pair of saws) is because they are lazy and have no eye for dimensions. They end up bucking chunks way too long for your wood stove which causes you to say their name all winter long with armed-service-word adjectives (if you know what I mean). Here’s how it works: If you tell them that your stove is 20 inches so please cut everything 18 inches or less, they will cut mostly 20 inches and greater. If you must hire a teen on furlough, tell him you have a pellet stove.
  5. Loading. Children are great here; built very close to the ground. Here’s the other miracle: They seem to be able to bend over 2000 times an hour and are still able to get out of bed the next day. Pay them candy. Note: a sheet of plywood on the back windshield is a must and lower your antenna if you have an older model pickup. Also, keep a roll of that red tape handy for patching taillights. Very handy!
  6. Stacking. Don’t get excited, you are out of the woods (thank God) and in a safer environment (or so it seems) but you are far from done. These are the same unsplit chunks you bucked up; you just need to kind of sloppy-stack them closer to your splitter. You could back your pickup right next to your splitter, but that doesn’t always work so hot. Kandi-Kids (we’ll call them) tend to get their timing off and can more than not make a knot on your bald spot. Kandi-Kids above eye-level is not a wise idea. The main reason to “somewhat-sloppy-stack” your wood is because: Tempus Fugit! – gasoline is $4/gal and you are Scotch like me. Throughput is the main thing here – only shutdown for crushed fingers. Note: Even though it’s tempting to skip this step, DO NOT attempt, under any circumstances, to haul your splitter into the woods! You invariably need to turn around (usually with a full load of firewood) and it’s pert’near impossible to back up with one of those dinky splitters on the back. Oh sure, you can get out and unhook the splitter, as OSHA suggests, but your back hurts and your arms are shaking from being the primary user of “wunna dem tings”. Instead you might say “direct me” to one of those young’uns but, you know what happens next, they have totally different hand signals than what you and I were raise with. Trust me; you do not have time to teach young people proper hand-signal etiquette. That is what the military is for.
  7. Splitting is another area where children excel. Note: NEVER LEAVE CHILDREN UNATTENDED WITH YOUR LOG SPLITTER! They will do stupid things like make kindling out of the biggest chunks. They seem to get entranced with running the level back and forth. And, again, they can’t handle the big chunks anyway but they love to watch you rupture your disks trying to heave the really big ones over to your splitter. Get the vertical kind of splitter you say? I have one, and that’s why I always can tell when a storm is settin’ in. It all started when I tried to barrel-roll one of those big-ugly-bad-boys over to the splitter. Ugh! The other aggravating thing that can make one hot-under-the-collar is, when you are barrel-rolling one of these monsters into place, everything stops! It’s like slowmo and everyone becomes a spectator. But, in all fairness to them: who wants to pull an appendage out from underneath one of these giant human mousetraps? You can’t blame them for being all wide-eyed; waiting with a front row seat for a possible YouTube moment. Kids today. You gotta love’um.
  8. Reloading split wood. Once you have split everything and yelled at everyone you know, it’s time to reload everything into the pickup again to FINALLY get your fuel source to a comfy distance from your house. I know you people with the outside boilers are snickering right now; you want to say “I just suite up like an Eskimo and ride out on my four-wheeler to the North-Forty once a week!” Point noted. However, us die-hard wood-stove-lovers want our wood close to the house (and we don’t have 7 grand for a water tank with a firebox in the middle with a bunch-a valves), sorry I’m getting hot-under-the-collar and I digress, again. The main reason us wood-stove-lovers want our firewood stash close by is because,…, if you heat with wood properly, you always find yourself in your pajamas when you need to load the stove. It’s true! If you time it right, have a pretty good stove and it’s not really squeaky-cold out, you can load just before and after you get out of bed.
  9. Fancy Stacking. This is really kind of a Michigan tradition here; an art really. Truth be known, the better looking the stack job, the more likely the stack can be seen from the road. Even though I stack mine in back, you still cannot trust the young folk to do this right. They will be long gone mid-winter when a rick racks you. They can sure bring it to you in a hurry though, bless their hearts! This is usually the greatest workout of all! Trust me; it’s a challenge trying to keep up with a bunch of sugar-high kids that just want their final gummy bear and to get home and wii! (Note to ol’timers: “wii” does not stand for World war II). Ahh, now you think all is well. Nice crisscross stacks of split wood all within walking distance to the house. Sorry. Now you have to get it into the house without making a mess and don’t drop it on your bare feet (note: you could buy some steel-toed slippers that don’t clash with your pajamas if you like). Dropping even the smallest chunk of oak on your toe defiantly heats things up and will make you do the Mexican Hat Dance around your dining room table. The kids love this.
  10. McClellan’s Law: – Here’s the clincher. This is the part the makes me sweat the most. Ready? The logs never fit! I’m talking the ones you cut – I don’t care how small! McClellan’s Law states: Wood will not go into the stove based on the temperature of the room times the extreme temperature of the stove. IE: The hotter the stove, the less likely a given chunk of wood WILL NOT fit into the fire box!!! No matter how long you fool with it. Do you know how silly a grown man looks like running out of his house in his pajamas with a flaming log in his hand?

But God did warn us, “By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread”. Adam must have baked his bread in a wood stove.

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