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Wood poor

GAYS MILLS - I find myself wood poor this year, meaning I’ve got a lot of wood and don’t know what to burn first. Normally, it’s a good idea to be cutting wood now for next winter and burn wood this year that’s been seasoned for at least a year. But I’m in a situation where I have beaucoup wood that has accumulated over a period of years and needs to be burned before it leaves of its own accord, in other words gets punk and rotten and is no good to burn.

Burning wood is a significant part of the heating plan at the Gibbs house and a major source of comfort. There’s nothing like backing up to a warm woodstove when you’ve been out in the elements or to sit down near the steady heat source that wood provides and let it penetrate and relax a body. Wood burning has largely gone out of favor for many in recent years but I still enjoy it, a lot.

Woodcutting is another story. I haven’t actually gone out and ‘made wood’ for quite a while like I used to: locate trees, drop trees, limb them, block them up and haul them home. And then split them and stack them. I kind of miss that, the tangibility and the satisfaction of the process, but the feeling passes.

I do have a little side enterprise I pursue that involves wood. I cut up slab wood, split it if necessary, and provide it locally to campers. I fill banana boxes with wood and try to put a good mixture of sizes in each box, including some very thin kindling. It’s sold labeled as Good Wood and is a good seller during the summer at the grocery store.

My current wood inventory includes: what’s left of a load of cut up slabs purchased at least five years ago, a huge pile from a Siberian Elm that was overhanging and threatening the little house out back, the remnants of some eight- and 10-foot long oak slabs from the days when I made Kickapoo John Lump Charcoal, and a sizable pile of apple wood I just got this summer.

I also have one small supply of fuel wood that is very special and I can’t help but feel sentimental about it. When we moved here out of the floodplain 10 years ago, there was a pile of oak cabin logs out along the fence line. The former owner was involved in working on and restoring the log cabins near the fairgrounds. The cabins were taken apart and reassembled at the Log Cabin Village from within Crawford County and they were all original settlers’ cabins. The logs were leftovers from those projects. That would make this wood at least 170 years old. The logs were hand hewn and the marks and dovetail joints make me think of the people who lived in those rustic, pioneer dwellings so long ago.

I hope and plan to get the homestead cleaned up over winter by burning most of the assorted wood for house heat.