Wood Warms You Again and Again!

This past spring we had several oak trees cut down that were casting too much shade upon our struggling fruit trees.  In fact, one of our peaches and both apple trees didn’t even see sunshine – at all!  I always struggle with eco-friendly practices versus self-sufficiency, and this was another one of those battles.  Do I cut down some beautiful oak trees that are in the way of a few trees in my orchard, and let the fruit trees suffer for lack of sunlight?  Or do I cut down the offending oak trees so that I will someday be able to harvest my own organic apples?  Self-sufficiency won this debate.  Those oak trees had to go.

Cutting firewood

Here is Mike, the lumberjack, at least 30 (maybe 40) feet up a very tall oak tree!

We had a local tree guy, Mike, come over to fall the trees.  I was nervous because the trees were very big and tall, and were right next to our orchard, garden and beehive.  I was afraid one of the trees would fall the wrong way and destroy the very things we were trying to save!  Luckily, Mike was a very careful and experienced lumberjack and was able to place every limb and trunk exactly where it needed to be. Not one branch fell the wrong way.  Whew!

Once Mike the Lumberjack was done, Ray and I were left with a huge mess and tangle of oak limbs and huge trunks.  For the past two months we have slowly been cutting the

Firewood cutting

This is part of the mess we were left with.

wood into about 18 inch lengths – perfect for our cute little wood stove!  The wood will keep us warm this winter and will also cook a majority of our food!  After we get a large pile of wood cut, we carry it over to the splitter, since most of the logs are too big in diameter to fit into our itty bitty wood stove.  The wood splitter was made by my brother-in-law, Danny, who passed on to heaven almost three years ago (and I still miss him). He was an excellent welder and machinist, and could make just about anything.  The splitter may not be pretty, but it sure does get the job done – and fast!

Oak firewood cutting

This is the hydraulic splitter that my brother-in-law, Danny, made.

After splitting the wood into wood stove sized chunks, we stack the wood on top of a tarp.

Firewood warms you five times!

Here is the stack we had when we were a little more than half done with our wood cutting, splitting and stacking. We will need every bit of this wood to stay warm this winter.

The tarp is there so the wood doesn’t “melt” into the dirt, and to deter ants and termites.  It won’t keep the critters away completely, but the tarp will make it a bit more uncomfortable for them to inhabit our wood pile.

What we like to do is get up early in the morning when it is still cool and cut for about an hour or so, then we do some splitting and stacking, and try to quit around lunchtime.  The past week has been fairly productive because it has been cool, but next week we are supposed to be in the mid 90’s to 100’s here in Northern California, and it’s brutal working in that kind of heat!

Cutting Firewood

Here is a pile of brush and limbs from the oak trees ready to go into the chipper/shredder.

The next morning, if we are too tired and sore from cutting, splitting and stacking, we will spend time chipping instead.  We bought our chipper eight or nine years ago and it has performed well.  Rather than have large piles of brush to burn next winter, which is a fire hazard here in the middle of the forest (especially with our terrible drought here in California), we chip most of the small limbs, brush and leaves that are left over from the trees we cut.  The chipped and shredded material makes a wonderful mulch for the garden.  We are also throwing a layer over the ground in the orchard area, in preparation for planting clover to help condition the soil. Some of the mulch also goes into the compost pile.  It’s the most efficient and safe way we have found to get rid of all that brush from the trees!

Oak wood mulch in the garden

We spread about 4-5 inches of mulch in all the garden beds. It’s great because I don’t have to water as often because the mulch keeps the soil cool and moist.  Another benefit is that I have had very few weeds to contend with.

So, let’s see…  We get warm when we cut the wood, warmer still when we split it, and by the time we are stacking we are almost burned out – yes, pun intended 🙂 .  That’s warming three times.  But, then we chip.  That’s four times.  Finally, the wood will warm us is when we burn it in our woodstove!

Well, actually, I guess it warms us again when we eat the food cooked on the wood stove – delicious!  And also when we spread the mulch around in the garden beds and over the orchard area.  And then again…

well, you get the picture!

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9 thoughts on “Wood Warms You Again and Again!

  1. Vicki I would love to see some close ups of your brother’s wood splitter. I have a great neighborhood who can make anything and would make one for us . we too heat with wood and cut down problem trees for people for the wood. But alas we are getting old and chopping and splitting is hard on mister man’s shoulders and back. I would love to surprise him with a homemade helper. Would you mind posting some close ups from different angles. Please.

    • Good morning! Nice to hear from you again! I will send some pictures to your e-mail along with a description from my husband this afternoon. Glad you like it, it sure comes in handy and does the job quickly! In fact, when my husband and I work together, he can split sometimes than I can stack!

  2. Wonderful article and pictures!
    We can’t seem to find a chipper that’s affordable (to us) and yet hardy. Would you mind sharing what type of chipper you have?

    • Yeah – our chipper/shredder isn’t the most heavy duty one, that’s why we can only chip/shred small limbs, brush and leaves. We got it at Home Depot several years back and it has done well, but we have had to buy more “teeth”. The engine, itself, seems to be a trooper I will send you a picture of the one we have. Thanks for your comment! Have a wonderful weekend, Carol.

  3. http://mydiyol.blogspot.de

    Hello Vickie,
    yes so unfortunately that is when the trees werden.Aber You have to contain something large double use.
    Firewood and Mullch for your flowerbeds.
    In addition, a lot more light on fruit and vegetables.
    We have cut down all tall pines with us and are happy about what we got as much light by the cultivation of fruits and vegetables.
    I’ve written you a mail.
    many Greetings

    • Greetings, Uwe! Yes, we are glad to be able to make use of the trees that we cut down. We hope to get lots of apples, peaches, cherries, and apricots next year! I changed the button already – so glad to hear from you again.

    • Yes – too warm at times! We will be glad to have all that wood for the winter, though. See you over at the Snickerdoodle party!

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