firewood (logistics)

November 2, 2009

My dad and I collect firewood in the fall. It seems to have gone from canning season (I canned what might be one of my last jars of spiced pickled pears last Thursday) to firewood collecting season. The weather is perfect, and I actually look forward to spending all Saturday or Sunday morning outside.

Trees Standing

Here is how it goes. My dad scouts, measures, and takes care of general logistics, which there happen to be a lot of! He locates the logs and figures out how to winch them up the hill to the cutting/splitting station. He works with Yogi, who is usually wielding the chain saw. They are on their way up the hill here, probably headed to get supplies to chop things. My dad got a new chain saw this year. It is about twice as big as our old one, and Yogi is able to saw much larger logs. I didn’t get any pictures of the chainsaw in action this week, but will post some more later.

Log and Chain

This particular log is tied up with the chain and hook at the end of the winch. The winch is attached to the Power Wagon positioned (stuck) up the hill. As the winch reels in the cord the log is pulled up next to the splitter where it is sawed and passed on to me.

Adjusting Log

Yogi is pushing the log away from the standing tree to the right. It was stuck here on its way up. Sometimes the logs need to be rolled all the way over, and sometimes they need to be adjusted just a little to make it around trees and other barriers.

Wenching Log

One of the most important elements of our operation is the Dodge Power Wagon. We use it for hauling wood, hauling the splitter, winching large logs out of the woods, and storing supplies.The Power Wagon is a beast! It was built sometime in the 50s (I think), and is still going strong.

Measuring Stick

This white stick is the measure of how long the firewood needs to be. My dad measured exactly how long the logs could be and still fit into the stove, and then cut the measuring stick accordingly. My dad usually holds the stick against the log, and then Yogi cuts a mark into the log, and then goes back and chops all the pieces at once. It is a two person process, for efficiency as well as safety. One of the big rules that we have is that no one is to operate the chain saw (or splitter) alone!!

Setting Up Splitter

The splitter has been staying out in the woods this fall. We cover it up with a tarp when we aren’t using it, and then it is ready to go when we return. This happens to be my tool of choice. I love splitting the logs, making sure that all the pieces will be a good size for burning. It is a little like a puzzle, trying to figure out where to start splitting, how to avoid knots in the logs, etc. And when you are operating the splitter you get to smell the freshly split wood. There is nothing sweeter, and more reminiscent of fall than the smell of freshly split wood (mixed with exhaust fumes from the chainsaw and splitter of course). There are often beautiful colors, reds, oranges, and the occasional dark brown of walnut (not the best wood to burn, but exceptionally beautiful when freshly split).


My dad splitting some troublesome pieces. Sometimes when the logs have a big knot I pass them on to him and he somehow manages to break them up into nice little pieces.

Ant Nest

A freshly split piece of locust happens to be the home of some carpenter ants. The pieces that have the ants are put in a separate pile to be used quickly, or to wait a year for the ants to move, so that they don’t invade and eat the woodpile/house.

Papa with TruckMy dad, the man behind all the operations, with his faithful truck!

2 Responses to “firewood (logistics)”

  1. Brian Says:

    I got your message when I was in New York, and I would have loved to make a film of this process. Next time I see you, we should certainly shoot some. Everything you do out there in the woods seems worthy of a film.

    • Torrey Says:

      Awesome! Still pictures don’t really capture the fun of the process! There needs to be the movement of the logs and machinery.

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