I’m taking a self-imposed break from riding for a while.  I suppose the hurricane coming through and dumping all kinds of water and wind is a good excuse, but that’s history around here.

We had a couple of volleyball tournament days and the end of band season with some competitions, so that soaked up the weekends.

But what really has my attention is firewood.  I don’t want to come across as a survivalist type, but plain and simple, we heat our house with wood.  There is an oil furnace downstairs which gets a fair amount of use in the fall and spring, but when the temperatures dip low enough, we fire up the wood stove and keep it going as much as we can.

It was there when we moved in, and I’ve gradually learned the tricks about how to best operate it, what types of wood are best for which seasons, how to run chainsaws (we have 3), which trees are the easiest to get the most wood from (locust), and which to avoid (maple, if possible), how to split and season wood, and how to get it from tree to stove with the least amount of work.  Basically, I’ve become a “woodtick.”

Problem is, I’ve fallen down on the job for the last two seasons.  My riding and other activities, along with unusually rainy springs, have kept me from gathering firewood during peak times.  Then the summers are typically too hot to work, so all I have left is to play catch up in the fall.  Usually by then, it’s too late to season wood enough for that winter, so I have to be picky about getting wood that’s been on the ground for a year or two.

I’ve had my eye on a stand of locust trees that were cut down two years ago by a utility company and have been laying along a road.  Locust is the gold standard of firewood, even better than oak.  It burns really hot, coals really long, and doesn’t leave a lot of ashes to clean up.  I got permission from the property owner to take what I can, and have started in.  

This project will probably yield a full cord of stove-ready wood once it is split, and I get a couple of good workouts to boot.  I cut a load earlier this week, and I could sense the benefits of the weight lifting I started in the summer.  I’ll still need a lot more, but once I get in firewood mode and people hear that I’m cutting, I’ll start to get calls from them offering up a tree or two that fell during a storm.  It’s all good.

Now, the days have grown short and it’s usually dark by the time I get home from work, so my cutting and splitting is limited to either weekends or a day off now and then.  That leaves weeknights for riding, and I’m hoping to hit the groove to finish out the year with some more miles, for fitness if anything.

Otherwise, I’ve still got the camping bug in my head, and my next “project” is to spend a night or two in the back yard testing my layering with the sleeping kit.  There’s the basic bag, which is good down to a certain point, after which I need to play with wool shirts, lightweight tights, a polartec sleeping bag liner, a down sweater, and a heavier pair of polartec pants to see what combinations work at various tempertures.  and I can track all of this using my handy-dandy $6.00 digital thermometer with the memory feature.

So fear not, I hope to have some more activity to blog about soon.


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