‘What do four good sized logs look like?’, you might ask. I’ve mentioned in a number of posts, including yesterday’s about the positioning of our woodstove, that on a typical winter’s day we would go through four good sized logs. It’s hard to describe that, so we’ve taken a picture, to leave no doubt in anyone’s mind (apologies for the slight blurriness of this image):
The length of a typical winter’s day would include starting the fire around 8.30am and adding the last of the logs in the afternoon. On fiercely cold days (of which we had very few this past winter), we would extend the burn into the evening to help ensure more warmth through the nighttime hours, but we almost never banked a fire to keep it burning over night. Thanks to having a concrete house, our main living area would still be very comfortable in the morning.
My husband loves the whole ‘art’ of creating good burns in a woodstove, and has more tips than I can share here right now. He likes to keep a bit of mystery around it, I think! In brief, however, for a shorter, quick burning fire we’ll chop the logs shown above into smaller pieces and for a longer more intense burn we’ll retain some large pieces to nestle into the firebox and pack it quite well.
Apart from a good handsaw and an axe, we now also include in our arsenal of woodstove tools a wood grenade, and that has made splitting larger, denser logs much easier. At the moment we have a little side project of cutting wood from an elm tree that we felled last year (it was dead). Every now and then on a nice day we’ll go down and use our antique cross-saw to cut another length of wood from the trunk, split it and store it up at the house. When we did this most recently my older son used the wood grenade to split the huge round of wood we had just cut with the cross saw; the little grenade looked as though it would just get wedged into the dense elm fibre in the centre of the log, but sure enough, as the grenade wedged its way in deeper it split the log apart. The grenade was a smart and inexpensive purchase, the very best kind.
While we’re still new at this we’re buying wood each fall from a great local provider who seasons his wood for two years before selling it, and gradually cutting some of the dead trees on our land for future burning. We also have a lot of apple wood branches (from our orchard rescue efforts!) that are already well seasoned and throw these into the mix. Although we have a decent stock of trees on our land, we’re planning to plant more trees expressly for the purposes of providing future fuel, and will do so each year.