Logging by hand has to be one of the most pointless and inefficient activities I have engaged in so far. I have been “cleaning the woods” as it were, dragging out large limbs and cutting dead trees to get wood for next year’s fire wood supply.
This year’s supply is large, but the quality of the wood is not that good. When we moved here in the fall, my then-roommate and I didn’t have the money to buy fire wood, and since we had fifty acres at our disposal, we figured we could cut, haul, and split our own wood. Luckily, we found a pile of logs that had been cut three years ago, but the bark was left on, so they had started to rot. Also, it was mostly soft woods like white pine, spruce, and poplar (aspen). But it was free and dry.
We were able to mix in a lot of hardwood from scrounging and an existing supply of wood left by the previous owners. Trust me, ten year old hard wood burns really, really nice.
I’m not sure if I’ll be living out here next year, but since I have lots of free time, I decided to comb the woods, finding nice pieces of downed or standing dead hardwoods. I got lucky with some of the wind storms we’ve had this winter and I’ve dragged cherry, maple, beech, and a little birch out of the woods.
On nice days, I usually take Pico and go for a walk around just to check things out. It’s on these rambles that I find the wood. If it needs to be cut up into smaller, more manageable pieces, then I take Pico back to the cabin and grab my chainsaw stuff. Some of what I cut is pretty dangerous, with dead limbs, lots of weight pressure, and pressure from other trees that the dead stuff is leaning against. Luckily, I have lots of experience running a chainsaw in difficult conditions so I feel comfortable doing this kind of cutting. I also always wear cutting boots (steel toe, Kevlar all around), Kevlar chaps, and a cutting helmet with face guard and ear muffs.
Once the logs are cut up into four or five foot lengths (depending on diameter, the skinny ones I leave longer), then the real grunt work begins. I grab Pico again and start walking out to where the wood is. Today, it was about a quarter mile away, and Pico and I made at least ten round-trips. That’s about five miles of walking, half of it carrying logs that weigh anywhere from five to fifty pounds. Even Pico was panting on our last couple of trips. And other than moral support, he was no help at all.
After I get the logs back to the cabin yard, I block it up into firewood-length pieces (16” or so) and split any of the bigger pieces. There are still some monster logs out in the woods that I’ll drag out once I can get the four-wheeler going. Or maybe I’ll buy a horse.
My shoulders are bruised, and there’s no way I could lift my arms over my head right now, but at least I’ve got a start on a better wood supply for next year. Yeah, dragging all those logs out by hand is dumb. So I’m dumb. Dumb like a fox.