Spring fever takes the form of a firewood obsession: I just canít stop thinking about it. How much have I got? How much did I use? How much more do I need? Where am I getting it from? Look at that personís pile. Where did they get it? Thereís a good looking stack, very prettily done. Oh look, thereís someone getting some. Good for them, I should be getting that.
Sometimes I even say these things out loud.
At this time of year, I am buffeted by the vicissitudes of this particular obsession ó pleasure, angst, guilt, fulfilment, jealousy, frustration, irritation ó all of course sensibly moderated by the beneficial effects of getting lots of fresh air and exercise. Iíve written about it before, Iíll write about it now, and you can bet Iíll write about it again. Firewood moves me.
This year, I am more touched than ever due to the recent appearance of a (very small to elicit such emotion) pile of birch sitting at the top of a driveway that I pass on the way to the farm each day. I canít take it, it belongs to the neighbour. Neither can I look at it, as it sits there day after day un-split, un-piled and most astonishingly, un-picked-up. Why arenít the driveway owners getting that wood? In this fevered state I cannot fathom how some adopt such a casual attitude to birch.
Day after day I have passed by this wood, preventing myself through sheer force of will from skidding to a stop and chucking a few pieces in the back of the truck, so well suited to this type of use and in fact acquired with something like that in mind. Imagine my further turmoil when today I noticed that part of the pile was gone! And I donít think it was the driveway owner who did it. Someone else in this valley is as crazy for it as me. Who are you?
Back to my own little world.
The first order of business in the firewood year is to consolidate the woodshed and porch. The remainder of the wood intended for this winter gets piled at the front. The broom comes out and the empty rows are swept clear, with small suitable bits (obsessively) plucked from the debris and placed in the kindling bin. All wood that is not cottonwood must be carefully saved and then burnt. Pretty sure thatís in the Bible.
Then we move next yearís wood (assuming weíve got that, and we do have a little) from the back-stock stacks under the barn up to the porch. Back and forth with the tractor, filling and emptying the bucket until the porch is full.
Next the more labour intensive consolidation of the back-stock. Although it would be nice to be able to avoid this, I am pretty sure we are going to have to move a lot of wood from one row to a couple over. Reason being, we donít want to hide the stacks of dry wood behind stacks of imminently freshly harvested wet wood.
I think to avoid this extra work we would need several different wood sheds. They would be labelled as to when the wood was split, and which should be burnt first. The wood would be stacked on trays that the loader could pick up and move to the porch. The porch would hold three or four of the trays at a time, which when emptied, could be struck down and removed to the wood splitting area, there to be refilled and stored in the assigned shed.
We donít have this system.
Anna Helmer has almost sold all the potatoes.