It’s true, doesn’t matter if it is lumbago, rheumatism, arthritis, sciatica or a bout of the gout this is guaranteed to cure the lot in two days.
Firewood, cut it, split it, stack it on the woodpile.
There are three trees worth here, a Hickory, an Oak and a Maple, all hardwoods, probably totaling about three cords when cut and stacked, seasoned it should weigh about six tons, wet as it is it probably weighs twice that. The big stuff with the dark heartwood is the hickory. Bitternut is the variety that grows around here and it is very heavy wood, and one of the best in terms of heat content for firewood.
The tree fella (gedit?) promised to cut the pieces into 48 inch lengths, that way I only have to make two cuts to get it to fireplace length 16-20 inches. The first piece I cut was 75 inches long so it needed three cuts to make four pieces. That piece weighed in at about six hundredweight and to move it requires one or two of those things in front of the saw.
It’s called a Cant Hook here, it may have a different name elsewhere, I bought a couple of them twenty years ago at a roadside sale for a few dollars each, they may already be 100 years old but they still work. They are used to move or roll logs, the curved spike grips the bark and the handle levers the log over. I think they are called cant hooks because usually I say “Even with this hook I can’t move this log” or something more flowery later in the day.
All the rest of the logs were 70 to 80 inches long too, so all needed three cuts from one side and then a turn and three small cuts from the other side to finish. I’m not good enough with the saw to cut from one side and avoid touching the ground with the chain, in that case the chain has to be sharpened or replaced. It’s far less work to be careful and cut twice.
This is me gasping with fatigue late in the day, nearly done with the cutting. The orange overalls are not a fashion statement, they have Kevlar inserts on the legs in case the saw gets loose, earplugs and safety glasses help too, I find it safer to work without gloves, it’s easier to quickly let go of the saw if I need too. The saw in the picture is Swedish, (Husqvarna) probably the third brand I have owned and far and away the best, it must be twenty five years old and still starts and runs like a champ. When it stops it is out of gas, fill it up, pull the handle and away you go again. Never tires, never stalls.
All done cutting, time to clean the saw and call it a day. The logs are now fireplace length and a manageable 150 lbs. Next, splitting.
Day Two. Splitting, moving, stacking.
Here’s the setup.
In the rear is the tractor with a log bin on the rear lift, it has snow chains on the rear wheels because in a second life it plows the driveway and the steep hill. Behind the tractor is a hydraulic log splitter (home-made from various mechanical bits, a 12 hp motor and hydraulic pump, and an 8 by 12 I beam)
Rest is simple but not easy.
1. Lift a log onto the splitter beam and close the valve, the ram pushes the log onto the wedge splitting it in half, both halves fall to the ground
2. Pick up a half and repeat 1. Keep repeating until all the pieces are small enough to load in the stove and are thrown into the tractor box
3. Repeat for the next log.
4. When the tractor box is full (about 1/2 ton) Drive the tractor to the log pile and stack all the split logs so that they DO NOT fall over when the pile is highest and the last piece is being placed.
5. Cover tidily with a tarp to speed drying.
The cure? After a day or two of this even lifting your eyelids hurts, any aches and pains you thought you had are long gone and have been replaced by real aches and pains. One’s life ambition has shrunk to finishing a hot shower without falling unconscious and creeping off for a long, long sleep.
13 thoughts on “The Wattage Two Day Cure for all Ailments”
Well worth a few aches and pain, LW. Well done.
Two questions: how long will this last you? Did you cut down the trees or did they come down in a storm?
Hello Araminta: Not my trees, my neighbor’s, they were starting to die. He had them felled by a professional tree guy, I don’t fell big trees, I leave that to the pro’s. The tree guy delivered the cut logs to my yard and dumped them in a heap. I cut and split about four full cords of firewood from the logs. That much should last me all next winter, it should be pretty much seasoned by then. I was probably working for minimum wage, allowing for fuel and wear and tear. Good firewood can be bought here for about $175 per cord, so I have about $800 worth of firewood, some good winter exercise more than a profitable job. If I had not taken them they would probably have been ground up for mulch, I took only the Oak, Maple and the Hickory five or six others (Poplar, Sweetgum) were ground up, the tree professionals cannot make any money selling firewood.
If I need to buy firewood I can get pretty good wood from the local farm kids, they all make good pocket money cutting and splitting local hardwood, delivered and stacked all in the price.
Thank you, LW. I thought you probably didn’t take the the trees. It sounds like a pretty good deal to me, for you and your neighbour.
Hard work, no doubt but well worth the effort.
And I now know what a cant hook is.
Really interesting post; thank you. 🙂
That’s the work of tree fellas, as Mick moight say! We get logs in woodstove lengths delivered in 5 or 7 cu. m. loads. Usually beech, some oak and ash. We pay about £50 per cube and we burn about a cube a fortnight, in 2 stoves, our primary heating, 8 or 9 months a year. Quite an economic/ecological solition.
PS a cu. m. is about a third of a cord.
That’s the sort of exercise that’ll find all the muscles you haven’t used for a while!
I love the phrase ” ….log splitter (home made from various mechanical bits….) Were you a marine engineer engineer?
I’m not quite sure about the therapeutic value of logging for bad backs! It sounds like marathon running for hamstrings – but who knows? 😮
Hello Janus: We heat mostly with wood, the backup is a propane fueled hot air furnace (rarely fires up except on the coldest nights when the stove is not stoked before bedtime). As you say, both economical and environmentally sound (the stove has a catalytic converter in the flue so makes very little smoke). We burn mostly Oak or Cherry, both abundant and readily available for purchase hereabouts in the wilderness. I normally only cut and split trees from my own property or a near neighbor (windfalls usually). It’s not good work for a bad back but if you burn a cube every two weeks you are moving almost half a ton of splits to the stove every fourteen days.
Hello James: As the saying goes “If you harvest firewood it will warm you three of four times before it is burnt” After moving them four or five times you get to recognize the individual splits.
Never been in the marine business except part time as a kid. Worked in Radar (UK), Semiconductors (Canada) and Composite Materials (US). Learned everything I know that is useful from my dad (he was a shipyard worker and part time barge hand) metalwork, welding, engines, hydraulics etc. The log splitter has a hydraulic cylinder, pump and spool from a scrapped backhoe and a rebuilt engine from pressure washer, the wheels and tires are from a Ford Escort. It’s big,heavy, tough and ugly, the first mate calls it “Lurch”.
LW, yes the old wheel barrow shifts some stuff!
I do hope you have a smoker for some of that hickory!
Here in the West where it doesn’t grow I am forced to actually buy hickory chunks for my smoker from B&Q!
They tend to use mesquite round here but I don’t care for the flavour so much.
If I ever do get back to Wales I can see inexhaustible supplies of hickory hunks being needed and shipped!
Hello Mrs O. I do have a smoker, I have not tried the local Hickory yet, This is the first Hickory tree I have processed and the wood is too green for smoking, maybe next year. Not sure it is the right kind of Hickory either the local stuff is Bitternut, most of the bacon is smoked with Shagbark Hickory according to the experts.
This wood had a strange smell to it when split (something of the cats pee about it).
The Oak and maple just smells sweet when split (hence Maple syrup I suppose).
I agree about the mesquite, too much creosote for my taste, Cherry works well (mild) and the local Oak and Maple are good too. Maybe I’ll chunk some up and give it a try when it is dry.
Reckon it will need two years not one! Maybe one if you chunked it now it is green and put in a barn?
Yes, cherry is good, apple too.
You have just put your finger on the mesquite for me, creosote, never could quite pin down why I didn’t like it, now I know!
I just love smoked turkeys.